(image courtesy of Krazy George)
Krazy George—the drum-banging, raspy-voiced, rabble-rousing professional cheerleader who conducted his Wave experiments in Denver in the late 70s—had tested his talents for the local professional hockey team at McNichols Arena, and the results were in.
Fans who had enjoyed Henderson’s antics during a handful of tryout games called the club—something management had encouraged them to do as part of a radio campaign—with favorable responses. The Rockies hired Henderson for the rest of the season.
Krazy George then went to work…on the likes of tough guy Dave “The Hammer” Schultz.
Henderson remembers that his confrontation with Schultz started this way: “One game, I was doing cheers, and he was arguing and crying.”
So Henderson antagonized the former Broad Street Bully, who also played for the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres, by repeating the refrain, “Crybaby Schultz!” Rockies’ fans joined the jeering George.
This taunting troubled the Hammer. “He smashed his stick on the ice and was screaming and cussing at me,” Henderson says, adding, ““I screamed back at him.”
According to Henderson, Schultz (who did not respond to e-mail to provide additional color commentary) countered, “If I ever see you again. I’m gonna kill you!”
A month later, Schultz was back in town. In the bowels of “Big Mac” before the game would start, Krazy George and the Hammer—neither with their game faces on, walked toward each other.
“Krazy George?” asked Schultz.
“Dave Schultz?” said the defenseless Henderson.
Schultz extended his hand toward Henderson, who followed suit. The two shook hands, and Schultz explained that his on-ice antics were often choreographed: Every time he went ballistic (wink, wink) against an antagonistic crowd, his employers had to pay him additional money.
“I’m gonna do that again tonight,” Schultz promised.
During the game, Henderson hurled insult after insult at his target. “I was having fun, going crazy,” Henderson says.
But before Schultz skated away, he winked at Henderson.
Henderson also impressed Canadien Serge “Le Sénateur” Savard, the Habs’ captain who would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986. After one game, Savard relayed his team’s sentiments to the Rockies’ ringleader.
Henderson and Savard were in the tunnel leading to the visitors’ dressing room. Krazy George remembers, “All at once—and I’m about a foot from the wall—he takes his stick and crosschecks me against the wall.”
Savard then said, “You have more noise here with 5,000 (fans) than we have in the Stanley Cup playoffs!”
Henderson, who still has that stick, considers Savard’s statement the greatest compliment a professional cheerleader could receive. To this day, former opponents tell him how fun he made those games at Big Mac.
“Ninety-five percent of the players I cheer against love me,” say Henderson.
Find a Rockies’ fan who didn’t love the guy. Besides stirring up support for the home team, Henderson also played goalie in a between-periods exhibition game. He would have preferred to stay in the stands.
“They scored ten goals on me in seven minutes,” George recalls. “Never again. But that’s ten goals against in a whole season. That’s the way I look at it.”
At Big Mac, Henderson’s high-energy hijinks used to whip Rockies’ fans into a frenzy. But away from the arena, Krazy George was also active. He visited many grade schools in Colorado, often dressing up in hockey attire to pump up his young fans. And, as seen in the photo above (courtesy of www.krazygeorge.com), he also drummed up support for local charities.
Big Mac was demolished in 1999, but the memories of Henderson’s four years in Rockie Hockey country will live on, as does the King of Krazy himself, who’s still for hire.