Before the first round of the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs, pretty much every analyst with a terrible tie and a lavalier mic had already predicted that the Central Division-winning, defending Cup champion Detroit Red Wings would beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The one dissenter was a hairy faced, grubby fingered little interloper who spun a wheel that landed on the Ducks, and she stuck with that decision: the Ducks would down the Wings.
Maggie the Monkey, a macaque who lived at Ontario, Canada’s Bowmanville Zoo was, for some reason, drafted to make postseason predictions by The Sports Network (TSN). She had been taught to spin a little wheel, and that seemed to be the only skill that she needed to be added to the channel’s Cup coverage (we assume that the CBC required the same thing from Don Cherry).
Anyway, Maggie kept selecting the Ducks to win each subsequent round — which they did — and ultimately she decided that they’d win the Stanley Cup too. The New Jersey Devils ended up skating off with the hardware, winning the series 4-3, but Maggie out-predicted the majority of her new colleagues, finishing with an 8-7 prediction record overall.
“That first year was where you saw the real egomaniacs, the big heads of television, come out. Because I think every one of us felt threatened by that monkey,” longtime TSN commentator James Duthie told The National Post in 2014. “It was the year Anaheim went to the Cup final, and she kept picking Anaheim in every round … people were mocking us relentlessly. I don’t want to get PETA upset, but we wished the monkey dead at times.”
Because there’s nothing that TV programs enjoy more than flogging a dead horse — or hyping up a live monkey — Maggie was brought back for the next five Stanley Cup Playoffs. She retired after the 2009 postseason, and had a career 45-45 record.
.Despite the fact that she was on-set for six straight years, that doesn’t mean that she endeared herself to her two-legged colleagues. “The monkey was disgusting. The staff would bring their kids in to see the monkey — ‘oh it’s so cute, look at the monkey’ — and I’m the one who had to have it sitting on my shoulder for half-an-hour,” Duthie said. “And it stank like crap. It would pee all over the suits and it would fling its poo all over the studio.” (Again, the same thing could be said of Don Cherry.)
After Maggie’s retirement, the network tried to repeat that magic by bringing in a lemur called Jacques, but his time on-set was short lived: he sliced open Duthie’s scalp with his claws. “I think that […] was when we were officially out of ideas,” Duthie admitted.
This season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs are still a good six months away, but The Athletic has already started making projections about who may or may not make it. We’re guessing that somebody’s given Maggie a MacBook.
This post was inspired by a recent video round we ran where we took boring movie scenes and livened ‘em up with, uh, monkeys. Yeah, you read that right. Check it out!
Featured image courtesy of: New York Zoological Society, public domain.