Saturday, July 23, 2016

Archie Wilcox

Here is an interesting piece of hockey trivia for you.

Archie Wilcox became the first rookie defenseman in NHL history to score a playoff overtime goal, when he connected at 6:27 of the second overtime as the Maroons took a 1-0 win at Boston, in Game 3 of the 1930 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals.

Wilcox, a Montreal native, was a natural athlete. He was really good at soccer, with one source even suggesting he had an offer from Chelsea. There has been no evidence to confirm that. But there is plenty of evidence to prove he was an excellent hockey player.

Wilcox would play in 208 NHL games, mostly spread out over five seasons with the Montreal Maroons back in the 1930s.

Joining the NHL's now-defunct Maroons was not an easy choice for Wilcox. He was a star in the very competitive Railway-Telephone senior league in Montreal and had attractive offers to stay.

"In 1926, the Canadiens came after me," he recalled years later. "They wanted me to meet them at the station that night at 8 to go to a game in Pittsburgh. The CNR manager promised me a job with the railway for life if I stayed. That night, I got a call from Jimmy Strachan (the Maroons' president) who offered me a $1,000 bonus if I turned pro with them. We were living with my wife's parents then, and she kept saying, 'take the money, take the money, and we'll use it to get a home of our own.' I was sent to Providence where they offered me $2,500 for the season but I held out for $3,000 and they finally gave it to me if I promised to shut up and not tell anyone."

By the 1929-30 season Wilcox was a regular with the Maroons. For the next four seasons he patrolled the Maroons defense and also played a lot of right wing. He would score 8 goals and 22 points in his career.

Late in his career, Wilcox briefly played for Boston, "but they wanted to cut my salary $500, and the most I ever made was $6,000." He also briefly played with the now-defunct St. Louis Eagles.

Beyond that he also had his chance to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs taken away from him.

"Later, Connie Smythe offered me my Boston salary to help the Toronto kids at their Syracuse farm team. Red Horner then got hurt and the Leafs were going to bring me up, but I had a leg injury. It's too bad, because I always wanted to play for Smythe. He was a swell guy."

Wilcox returned to Montreal and opened a fleet of 160 trucks for his own transporting business. He also was active in civic politics in Verdun.

Archie Wilcox relocated to Brockville, Ontario is his 80s. He passed away in 1993 at the age of 90.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vern Ayres

Vern Ayres is another player who should be included in the "hockey's wildest misfits" category.

Like the modern-day misfit Steve Durbano, Ayres loved to lap up the liquor and was mean on defense in the NHL. If he wasn't partying in New York Americans owner Bill Dwyer's company, he was belting opponents with his fists or nailing them with very hard, devastating body checks.

Ayres broke in with the New York Americans in 1930-31 and spent three years on the Amerks blueline. He had 97 minutes in penalties in 1932-33 in his 48 games. He was traded to the Montreal Maroons and played much of 1933-34 in the minors. He was traded to the St.Louis Eagles for 1934-35 and gave a real display of why he was one of the hardest bodycheckers in the NHL at the time when he broke a few of Harvey Jackson's ribs with a devastating bodycheck.

However, he was a slow skater, as his 6'2" 220lb body made him a plodder. Anyone with any skating ability could beat him without too much trouble with a good change of speed.

When the Eagles folded, the New York Rangers claimed him but there was no way he could crack the Ranger lineup regularly. He was sent to the minors where he finished his career.

Vern Ayres died February 18th, 1968 while playing in a father-son hockey game for fun. He was 59 years old.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Raymie Skilton

This is Raymie Skilton. He is one of many one game wonders in NHL history. He played his lone NHL game way back in 1917, with the Montreal Wanderers.

Yes, there was a team called the Wanderers in the NHL's first season, season. They were one of three NHL teams based out of Montreal - the Canadiens and later the Maroons. Though they had a good local history (winning the Stanley Cup several times in the early 1900s before the NHL existed) the Wanderers did not last very long. After six games their arena burned down, under rather mysterious conditions. They forfeited the rest of their games and never reformed.

Skilton was a rare American player back then. The Boston raised Skilton was actually a munitions expert that the US government posted in Montreal. He expressed a desire play the game, and offered the Wanderers a price they could not refuse: one dollar.

 No newspaper reports suggest much about Skilton's play on that game on December 21st, 1917. No one on the team must have played very well at all in that game, as they lost 11-2 to the Canadiens.

Skilton's military duties must have kept him too busy to remain on the ice. Statistical records suggest Skilton returned to amateur hockey in the Boston area after World War I.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jerry Shannon

Jerry Shannon patched together a 183 game NHL career in the 1930s. He played with the Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Eagles, Boston Bruins and, for two complete seasons, the Montreal Maroons.

Nicknamed "River" for reasons unknown to me, Shannon was a junior and senior sensation in Niagara Falls, leading the junior Cataracts to a Memorial Cup appearance and the senior Cataracts to an Allan Cup final.

In 1933, Jerry signed as a free agent with the Ottawa Senators along with three Niagara Falls teammates - Ralph "Scotty" Bowman, Max Kaminsky and Walter Kalbfleisch. The Ottawa franchise was relocated in 1934, settling in St. Louis. In 1935 he was traded to the Boston Bruins and then traded to the Montreal Maroons in 1936. In 1938, the Maroons traded Jerry to Cleveland for cash and then he was traded again to Hershey.

Shannon returned home to Ottawa after his professional career was over. He regained his amateur status and returned to senior hockey. He also became legendary for organizing drop in youth hockey games. Kids from all over would show up. No matter how many came, he organized it so that everyone could play.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Harold Starr

Harold "Twinkle" Starr was one tough workhorse of the NHL for most of the dirty thirties. In fact, King Clancy once told famous sports writer Jim Coleman he may have been the toughest of his time.

Here's how Coleman retold the story in the January 18th, 1943 edition of the Toronto Telegram:

"Clancy spoke affectionately of Harold Starr, the brutal beer baron who once at Maple Leaf Gardens felled Clancy in exactly fourteen seconds with a reverse hammerlock and a flying-mare. 'A powerful fellow, that Starr,' said Clancy judiciously, 'but a trifle crude.'"

Like Clancy Starr hailed from Ottawa, born there in 1906. He was a junior hockey star, playing with Gunners, St-Brigid's and Shamrock teams. He was real good on the gridiron too, playing professional football with the CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders. He was every bit as tough on the grass as the ice, playing tackle and end spots. He helped the Rough Riders win the Grey Cup in 1925 and 1926.

By 1929 he filled his winters playing in the NHL, too, with the Ottawa Senators. He would bounce around the NHL quite a bit, never settling down in one place for too long. Starr would play for three seasons in Ottawa, one each with the Montreal Maroons and Montreal Canadiens, two with the New York Rangers and just two games with the Detroit Red Wings.

After hockey, Starr was a very successful co-owner of the Carleton Hotel.

Long time Ottawa sports reporter Eddie MacCabe wrote an article that quoted one of Starr's old buddies as saying "Harold was a quiet man. But he never forgot anybody. Many's the night I drove around the city with him and he'd stop in here and there and help out guys who were down on their luck and I'd stay on the car and he'd say 'there's a fellow here I have to talk to for a few moments.' He was one of those great guys."

Harold died at his home in Ottawa on Friday, September 25, 1981.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Glenn Brydson

In eight seasons right winger Glenn Brydson, known by his nickname of Swampy, played in 299 NHL contests with the Montreal Maroons, St. Louis Eagles, New York Rangers and Chicago Black Hawks.

The Maroons signed him as a free agent after a notable 1931 season saw him lead the amateur Montreal AAA to a strong showing at the Allan Cup. He would play with the Maroons for four seasons, before being traded to the St. Louis Eagles in exchange for legendary goalie Alex Connell.

The following year Brydson moved to New York to play with the Rangers, only to be traded mid-season to Chicago. Interestingly, the way the schedule played out, the trade allowed Brydson to play in 52 games in a 48 game schedule.

Brydson would play with Chicago through to 1938. He would bounce around the minor leagues during the war years.

He retired in 1943 and ran his own hotel for many years. He died in Rockwood, Ontario on December 8th, 1993.

The native of Swansea, Ontario was the younger brother of Gord Brydson, a noted Toronto golfer who also briefly played with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Max Kaminsky

Max Kaminsky was clever center, excelling defensively while showing promise for offensive upside.

Born in 1913, he played his junior hockey with the Niagara Falls Cataracts of the OHA and in 1930-31, in 7 games, he scored 14 goals and had 15 assists for a whopping 29 points. He then played successfully for Niagara Falls in Senior OHA before turning pro with the NHL's Ottawa Senators in 1933-34.

He showed some ability, as he had 27 points in 38 games centering the Roche brothers Desse and Earl. The next year he did nothing for the St.Louis Eagles in 12 games, but when traded during the season to the Bruins, he had 12 goals and 27 points.

He never played well again after that, though. He was awful in 1936-37 and, following a contract dispute, Art Ross sold him to the Montreal Maroons where he played six games and then was sent to the minors. He spent the rest of his career in the minors where he did achieve some success. He made the AHL's second all-star team in 1939-40 having 11 goals and 29 assists. He played for Springfield until 1941-42 and then closed his career with the Pittsburgh Hornets in 1944-45, becoming coach in 1945-46, and was a long-time coach and general manager for many years.

The memory of Kaminsky, who died May 5th, 1961, is perpetuated by the Max Kaminsky Memorial Trophy, awarded yearly to the OHL (formerly the OHA) most gentlemanly player who also displays a high standard of playing ability. In 1969 they created the William Hanley Trophy for such nice guys, and gave the Kaminsky trophy to the league's top defenseman.

Kaminsky, who after he retired as a player became an AHL coach and a notable OHL coach, died of cancer in 1961, just months after leading the St. Catherines TeePees to the Memorial Cup in 1960

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Paul Haynes

The name Paul Haynes does not really resonate in Montreal sporting history quite like Rocket Richard or Jean Beliveau or Guy Lafleur. But Paul Haynes, too, was a great Montreal athlete. He was a junior boxing champion and star quarterback at Loyola College.

But to make it in Montreal you need to make it in hockey. Paul Haynes was very good at hockey too, although his longest lasting impact came off of the ice.

Paul Haynes was originally signed by the Montreal Maroons in 1930-31 after he helped the Montreal AAA win the Allan Cup in 1929-30. Indeed, practically the entire team was signed by the Maroons, including the great Dave Kerr, defenseman Al Huggins, the Roche brothers, and Haynes.

Haynes would play in parts of the next five seasons with the Maroons, "English Montreal's team" as they said. He took a couple of years to find his form, but his best year came in 1932-33 when he finished fifth in NHL scoring with 16 goals and 41 points centering Baldy Northcott and Hooley Smith or Earl Robinson.

Haynes never really experienced success like that again, and mid-way into the 1934-35 season he was traded to Boston. Believe it or not, a Canadian Press article on Dec. 29, 1934 suggested the very slight Haynes suffered from many colds, and doctors suggested Haynes should move to a milder climate.

Hayne's exile from Montreal was short lived. He returned for the 1935-36 season, this time with Les Canadiens. The playmaking center scored 5 goals and 24 points in his first full season with the Habs.

He was as good in 1936-37,though taking over for the late Howie Morenz was quite a chore. He seemed capable of it, as in 1937-38 he had 13 goals and 35 points playing on a line with Toe Blake and Johnny Gagnon. He even managed to finish ninth in scoring in 1938-39 with a measly 5 goals, but 33 assists for 38 points.

That would be Paul Haynes last good season in Montreal. He would play parts of two more seasons before being farmed out to New Haven in 1941. Apparently he fell out of favor in Montreal because he ditched a team meal in New York to attend an opera. He retired at the end of that season, only to return to Montreal.

Haynes was an interesting player. In 390 games his 195 career points are not eye catching, especially his low 61 goas, even by 1930s standards. But at his peak he was interesting. Twice he finished top 10 in NHL scoring, both times as the set up centerman.

Just judging by his peaks and valleys, I suspect at his peak he was sort of like a Henrik Sedin or Andrew Cassels type centerman. When he was in one of his valleys he was probably a lot more like a Murray Craven or Anatoli Semenov type centerman - under-appreciated, under-utilized, but excelling in his own quiet way. I found one report saying Haynes was a good defensive center who possessed a "devastating hook check."

Marc T. McNeil of the Montreal Gazette confirms this in a December 28th, 1934 article about Haynes and Russ Blinco. He says of Haynes: "Haynes combines the defensive skill of Pete lepine and the playmaking prowess of Joe Primeau, and is rated as one of the headiest players in the league."

McNeil also revelead Haynes almost loss his life before he even made it to the NHL.

"That Haynes is playing hockey at all today is something of a miracle, for he nearly lost his life while working in the mines at Copper Cliff in the summer of 1929. He was cleaning one of the furnaces at the top, moving the red-hot bricks, when the plank he was working on slipped and he started to topple over into the furnace in which there was still fire. To save himself he grabbed hold of a hot steam pipe and somehow hung on."

Hayne was pulled to safety by co-workers, but not before the steaming bricks fell into some water, creating scalding steam that scarred Haynes for life. He was told he would never compete in sports again, but it turned out he would soon enjoy his greatest moments on the ice and on the football field.

Haynes remained close to the Habs in retirement, working for them as a coach, scout and even radio play-by-play man. For a period of time he coached the Montreal Amateurs junior team where he had a young Maurice Richard. It was Haynes who thought of converting fiery Richard from left wing to right wing to make better use of his shot.

Haynes, who owned his own sporting goods store in Montreal while he played, also started his own surveying company and earned a master's degree from New York University in cinema studies. One of his favorite movies he worked on was a documentary about his home town - Montreal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cy Wentworth

Marvin "Cyclone" Wentworth, better known as just Cy, was known as a steady and consistent defensive defenseman with the Chicago Black Hawks (1927-1932), Montreal Maroons (1932-1938) and Montreal Canadiens (1938-1940).

At 5'11" and 175lbs he was not a big player, not even back in those days, but he quickly developed a reputation as a thundering but clean bodychecker. An underrated star who never did anything fancily, it was said he was able to "command the defensive zone." As he matured as a player he developed the confidence to explore his offensive game. In doing so he became a very valuable player.

That was never more so evident than in the spring of 1935. From the blue line Wentworth led the whole league in post-season scoring while capturing his only Stanley Cup championship with the Maroons. Wenthworth was described as the hero of those playoffs, time and time again stepping into any opposition attacker. A little later on he would be named to the 1935 NHL Second All Star team, the only time he would be so honoured.

Born in Grimsby, Ontario, Marvin Wentworth went on to a brilliant junior career in Windsor. The Chicago Black Hawks were quick to secure his professional rights, gambling that he would be a solid pro.

The Hawks were rewarded quickly with that gamble, as Wentworth soon settled in on a defensive line with big Taffy Abel. The pair formed a fantastic hard hitting defensive duo, with Wentworth providing quick feet and an active stick. Off the ice he was recognized as a team leader known for his good humour.

By 1932 Wentworth would be named as the Hawks' team captain, but he would be traded at the beginning of the 1932-33 season. The Montreal Maroons offered the handsome sum of $10,000 in exchange for Wentworth, not an insignificant sum in the days of the Great Depression.

The Maroons were quite happy with their purchase. Wentworth's stabilizing influence was immediately, and never more so evident than in the Stanley Cup championship run of 1935.

The Maroons would fold just three years later, due to their own financial problems. Wentworth would be sold once again, this time across town to the Montreal Canadiens. He would play with the Habs for 2 more seasons before retiring in 1940.

Cy Wentworth played in 579 NHL games, scoring 39 goals and 107 points. He moved back to Ontario in retirement, taking up several business ventures in the Toronto area.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bob Gracie

Bob Gracie was a arrogant, cocky person who rubbed many people the wrong way. That's probably why he moved all over the hockey map in his career. But he was also a talented goal scorer and playmaker. Though his NHL numbers never stood out like they did in the juniors and minors, Gracie was a consistent scoring threat in his day.

Gracie started his career with the Toronto Maples Leafs in 1930-31, but he also played with the Boston Bruins, New York Americans, Montreal Maroons, Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Black Hawks. He also served with several teams in the AHL and PCHL before his career was done by the close of the 1940s.

One hockey story, which may be more legend than fact, has Gracie calling his own goal in a sudden death overtime with the Leafs against the Maroons. Gracie had been sitting on the bench for most of the extra period when Toronto coach Dick Irvin finally dispatched Gracie over the boards with about 3 minutes left in the period. Gracie supposedly skated over to the official scorers bench and said "Get a pencil. Write these words - Goal by Gracie." The scorer smiled but was less than impressed. But sure enough, Gracie took a pass from Andy Blair and fired the winning goal!

In 379 NHL games he scored 82 goals and 191 points. His best season may have come in 1934-35 when he joined the Montreal Maroons. Playing on a line with Herb Cain and Gus Marker, Gracie helped the Maroons win the Stanley Cup.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sammy McManus

Irish born Sammy McManus moved with his parents to Toronto in 1912 when he was barely two years old and started playing hockey at a very young age. As a 17-year old in 1928 he started playing real competitive hockey in the OHA. Sammy played for the Toronto Canoe Club for two seasons, and with the Toronto Goodyears for one in the local Toronto league.

During the following three seasons he changed clubs and locations each year. in 1930-31 Sammy played for the New Glasgow Tigers in the Cape Breton Senior Hockey League. In 1931-32 he went to play in Fredericton for the Fredericton Capitals of the Maritime Senior Hockey League (MSHL). The following season he landed in Moncton where he played two seasons for the Moncton Hawks, also in the MSHL.

Sammy was an instant hit in Moncton. During his first year with the Hawks he led them to a first place finish in the MSHL and to a prestigious Allan Cup win. The following season (1933-34) Sammy had an even more successful season. He led the entire MSHL in goals (25 in 38 games) and had 48 points. But more importantly the Hawks were able to repeat both their win in the MSHL as well as the Allan Cup. They also won the short lived Willis Cup that year when they defeated the Detroit White Stars to become the North American Senior Champs.Sammy was also a first team All-Star. The 1933-34 Moncton team was in fact so strong that they were regarded almost as good as any of the NHL teams.

Despite all the success the franchise folded and Sammy had to look around for another team. The NHL Montreal Maroons had kept an eye on Sammy after his fine 1933-34 season. They signed him as a free agent and he went on to play for them at the start of the 1934-35 season. (October 31,1934) It was not easy to get a spot on the Maroons team and Sammy was riding the ´bench for most of the time. In the 25 games that he was dressed he only managed to get one assist. He also played a couple of shifts in one game of the 1935 playoffs, his only career appearance in the NHL playoffs. That season Sammy also played for the Windsor Bulldogs (IAHL) and New Haven Eagles in the Can-Am league

Almost exactly one year later Sammy was traded to the NY Rangers for $ 10,000 in cash. The Rangers team had about the same depth on their roster as the Maroons, so they shipped Sammy to their minor league team in the Can-Am league, the Philadelphia Ramblers. He had a fine season with the Ramblers getting 40 points in 43 games, making the first All-Star team.

The September month in 1936 was Sammy's most hectic ever. Early in September the Maroons bought Sammy back from New York. A couple of days later he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, but the same day (September 10), before he even realized that he had been traded to the Canadiens, he was once again traded.

His new address was Boston. The Bruins shipped him to their farm team in Providence (AHL) wherehe played the entire 1936-37 season, except for a one game call up by the Bruins. That proved to be his last NHL game. In 1937-38 Sammy was named to the second All-Star team in the AHL for the Providence Reds.

Sammy's NHL career was over but he continued to play in the AHL and AHA for quite some time. In 38-39 he played for Hershey (AHL). In 39-40 he split his time between Pittsburgh and New Haven (AHL). In 40-41 he played for Kansas City (AHA), 41-42 for St.Louis and in 42-43 he split his time between Washington and New Haven (AHL). While playing for St.Louis in 41-42 he was selected to the second All-Star team.

The 1942-43 season was Sammy's last in the USA. During the seven years after he had played his last NHL game he collected 254 points in 310 games and was among the scoring leaders most of the time. He also only collected 81 Pim's during this seven year (310 games) span.

Sammy returned to the Maritime leagues in Canada and played for the Saint John Beavers (43-44),Moncton RCAF Flyers,Saint John Garrison and Saint John Beavers (44-45). His two last seasons were excellent. He was the league leader in 45-46 while playing for the Moncton Maroons, getting 42 points (27+15) in 13 games. In his last season he played for the Moncton Hawks and scored 71 points in 32 games.

Sammy was an excellent playoff performer. During his last four trips to the playoffs in the Maritime league he always led the playoff scorers in either goals or assists. Sammy retired in style. He was playing great hockey until the end of his career and could have continued to play for another three or four years.

Sam McManus is the grandfather of Scott Pellerin.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dunc Munro

This is Dunc Munro, courtesy of the rare 1924-25 Dominion Chocolate hockey card set. His card would have been pretty popular back then. After all, he had just led Canada to the gold medal in the 1924 Olympic Games at Chamonix, France.

Munro was one of hockey's great leaders. He captained the Toronto Granites senior team that had earned the right to represent Canada at the Olympics. The Granites, made up largely of ex-servicemen form the first World War, were virtually impossible to beat, winning back to back Allan Cups as the amateur champions of Canada in 1922 and 1923.

In 1924 they were off to the Olympics where they faced no real challenge. They beat Sweden 22-0, Britain 19-0, Czechoslovakia 30-0, Switzerland 33-0 and the United States 6-1.

Munro was the captain of the Olympic team as well. He scored 16 goals in those 5 games. He and Beattie Ramsay were the only two defensemen Canada iced in that tournament. It is likely both players played every minute of every game. Plus, he refereed the Belgium-United States contest!

Upon his return to Canada his services became quite sought after by the professional ranks. The Montreal Maroons, a new team marketed to English speaking Montreal, targeted the 23 year old Scottish-born Munro immediately. There is some speculation that the deep-pocketed Maroons made Munro the richest man in pro-hockey at the time. Despite being one of the younger players on the first year Maroons team, Munro was named captain again.

It was not long before the Maroons challenged for hockey supremacy. In just the team's second year, 1925-36, Munro helped to lead them to the NHL championship and then to the Stanley Cup championship, defeating the west's Victoria Cougars.

The Maroons returned to the Stanley Cup finals in 1928, only to lose famously to Lester Patrick and the New York Rangers. Patrick of course was the silver haired 44 year old coach who played in net in game 2 of the series because Lorne Chabot became injured.

Munro was described as "beefy" who had some legendary battles with the Canadiens pint-sized Aurel Joliat. In one incident fought like "enraged bulldogs," both on the ice and in the penalty box.

Munro's health became a serious concern in the 1928-29 season. He would play in only one game after suffering a heart attack. He turned to coaching, and in 1929-30 he returned for a full season in 1929-30 as both coach and player. He left the ice again after just 4 games in 1930-31.

Hoping to resurrect his hockey career Munro signed on with the cross-city rival Montreal Canadiens for the 1931-32 season, playing a full schedule and by most accounts playing well. It would be his last season on the ice, as he turned his full attention to coaching.

Munro would suffer several heart attacks over the years, causing his health and style of life to deteriorate. He died in 1958, just shy of his 57th birthday.

Dave Trottier

Dave Trottier was one of the greatest amateur left wings in the history of hockey, and his numbers show it.

He played for the St . Michaels Majors of the OHA and led the OHA in goals with 13 in 6 games in 1923-24. The next season he led the OHA with 7 assists.

He then played senior hockey with the Toronto Varsity Grads. In 1926-27, he scored 23 goals in 11 games, had an OHA Senior-league leading 8 assists for 31 points, and the Varsity Grads won the Allan Cup as Canada's amateur champions.

But 1927-28 was Trottier's year of glory. He scored a whopping 33 goals,10 assists for 43 points in just 12 games, all of which led the OHA Seniors. The best was yet to come, though. Toronto represented Canada t the 1928 Olympics, winning the gold medal. The speedy Trotter was just phenomenal in the three games Canada played as he scored 12 goals, had 3 assists for 15 points, all of which led Olympic scorers.

It was not surprising, then, when Eddie Gerard, manager-coach of the Montreal Maroons and Conn Smythe, manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, both wanted Trottier for their teams. He was on the Toronto negotiation list, but suitable arrangements were made to let the Maroons sign him. The Maroons paid $10,000 in September of 1928 to secure his professional playing rights.

Dave got off to a bad start when he suffered a cut in his neck during a scramble, and went 22 games before scoring a goal. He worked in various combinations and finally hit his stride in 1931-32, scoring 26 goals in the 48 game NHL schedule, leading the Maroons in scoring with 44 points and finishing 6th in NHL scoring. He had been playing on a line with Paul Haynes and Glen Brydson. A great stickhandler and a willing fighter, Trottier was always ready to mix it up with any of the boys. Indeed, he had 94 minutes in penalties in his outstanding 1931-32 season.

After 1931-32, though, he was not to have another outstanding season in the NHL. He scored 16 goals and had 31 points in 1932-33, but would never even come close to that in any of the following seasons. He remained a valuable player, a coach's dream really, by earning a reputation as one of the game's top checking forwards. Had the NHL had an award honouring defensive forwards back then, Dave Trottier likely would have won one year.

In 1934-35 he played on a line with Russ Blinco and Earl Robinson. The Maroons won the Stanley Cup that year and Trottier was a star in the finals against Toronto. He scored the winning goal in the first game and was brilliant throughout the series despite receiving another skate cut.

He played three more years with Blinco and Robinson but seemingly was accident prone. In 1935-36 he suffered an ankle injury that forced him out of several games, and the following year was again out with a damaged shoulder and a severe heel cut. In the playoffs against Boston, he was cut above the eye in a stick-swinging duel with Dit Clapper, but played well as the Maroons eliminated the Bruins.

The Maroons suspended operations after 1937-38 to regroup from their losses. But when they sold most of their players to other teams, it was evident the Maroons were through for good. Trottier's rights were held by the dormant franchise, but the Maroons sold him to Detroit in December of 1938. In the first game he played for the Red Wings he received another bad skate cut in the neck when players fell over him on the ice.

He played a few more games after his recovery and then played for the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL before retiring at the end of the 1938-39 season.

Born in Pembroke, Ont. on June 25th, 1906, Dave Trottier died on November 13th, 1956 in Halifax, N.S. Though he was a solid NHLer who scored 121 goals in 446 NHL games way back in the 1930s, Trottier will always be remembered for his role in the 1928 Olympic gold medal winning team.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Russ Blinco

As a rookie Russ Blinco sure caught the eye of the National Hockey League.

A clever though quiet regular of the Montreal Maroons in the 1930s, Blinco's inaugural season in 1933-34 saw him named as the NHL's rookie of the year. He scored 14 goals and 23 points in 31 games that year, only the second year the NHL awarded the Calder trophy.

The native of Grand'mere Quebec had bigger trophies in mind in his sophomore season. He would score a career high 27 points in a full 48 game schedule, including a 4 goal game agains the New York Americans. He would add 2 goals and 4 points in 7 playoff contests, his second goal was the game winner in game two of Maroon's three game sweep of Toronto in the Stanley Cup finals. It was the last Stanley Cup title in Montreal Maroons history.

Blinco would continue to toil with the Maroons for three more seasons. The Maroons faced increasing financial difficulties as the Great Depression's grip held firm.

By August of 1938 the Maroons had suspended operations and began selling off their players. Blinco, Baldy Northcott and Earl Robinson were sold to Chicago for $30,000.

Blinco would play just one season in Chicago before retiring.

Blinco retired having scored 59 goals and 66 assists for 125 points in 259 career NHL games. Blinco was described an intelligent pivot known for his gentlemanly play and proficient effectiveness. He often played with wingers Robinson and Dave Trottier.

His best game came in the 1934-35 season when he scored

Upon his retirement, Blinco made his home in Bedford, Quebec, working as an accountant. The former McGill University star student remained active in the hockey scene, managing the rink and coaching and refereeing the game at many local levels.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lionel Conacher

The man they called "The Big Train" is truly a Canadian sporting legend. Lionel Conacher is arguably "Canada's Greatest Athlete" and is often referred to as "Canada's Jim Thorpe"

He was a charter inductee in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame (1951), and has been inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1963), the Hockey Hall of Fame (1994), and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

In football, Conacher played for the Toronto Argonauts (1921-22) and won the Grey Cup in 1921. The previous year, he had won hockey's Memorial Cup as a member of the Toronto Canoe Club Paddlers. Conacher went on to a 12-year career in the NHL (1925-37), mostly with the Montreal Maroons, where he was a second-team all-star defenseman in 1932-33, and played on the Stanley Cup winning team of 1934-35. He first played on a Stanley Cup winner in his one season with the Chicago Blackhawks (1933-34), where Conacher was also a first-team all-star.

As a hockey player, not only was Conacher a solid defenseman, he was also known for his hard hitting and aggressive defense. He was always among the penalty-minutes leaders.

Conacher was a member of the Toronto Maple Leaf baseball team that won the Triple-A championship in 1926. And, in addition to being one of the greatest lacrosse players in the country, he was also an undefeated light-heavyweight boxer (and fought an exhibition bout against Jack Dempsey in 1922).

As an amateur wrestler, Conacher won the Ontario championship in the 125 pound weight class as a 16 year old in 1916. According to The Ring Magazine, he became a pro wrestler in Toronto in 1932, and toured Canada and USA and never lost a match. Lionel even boxed a 4 round exhibition fight with the legendary Jack Dempsey

After retiring from sports, Conacher was elected as a member of the Liberal party to the Ontario legislature in 1937 and to the Canadian House of Commons in 1949. He died in 1954, suffering a heart attack while playing in a softball game.

Conacher was voted Canada's Athlete of the Half Century by the Canadian Press in 1950 and is a top candidate for Canada's athlete of the 20th century when that poll is taken.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Nels Stewart

Truculent Nels Stewart was nicknamed "Old Poison" as he was the most feared goal scorer of his time.

In fact, for 16 years he was hands down the greatest goal scorer of all time, a title that only 6 other players in NHL history can lay claim to. In 1936 he surpassed Howie Morenz to become the all time leader in goals. He ended up with 324 goals in his career. He would remain the all time leading goal scorer until 1952 when Rocket Richard would score career goal 325.

Yet Stewart would always have his fair share of detractors. More on that later.

Born in Montreal but raised in the Toronto area, the burly, 200-pounder collected a total of 324 goals and 191 assists in 653 league games. He was the first to score more than 300 goals in the NHL, a record that stood for many seasons.

Stewart learned his hockey in Toronto, where his family had moved when he was a boy. He grew up in the Balmy Beach district with his future linemate, Hooley Smith, and joined the Montreal Maroons for the 1925-26 season.

Teamed with with fellow Hall of Famers Babe Seibert and Smith, the old Montreal Maroons had the most feared trio in hockey with the rough and tumble famed "S Line." Stewart scored 134 times in just 5 seasons with the "S" line, including 2 in 4 seconds, a NHL record. As a rookie he captured the 1926 Hart trophy as the league's MVP, the same year he helped the Maroons capture the Stanley Cup. He repeated as MVP in 1930.

Best remembered for his days with the Maroons, Stewart also enjoyed successful seasons with the Boston Bruins and the New York Americans.

Nels was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962, 5 years after his death. In 1998, despite having not played in half a century, Nels Stewart was ranked number 51 by an expert panel gathered by The Hockey News' to determine the 100 greatest hockey players of all time.

Yet somehow Nels Stewart is mostly forgotten about by history. Others from his era - Eddie Shore, Howie Morenz, Cyclone Taylor - have transcended time, but Stewart has not? Why is that?

One reason would be he mostly played on two teams that folded long before modern times. It is easy to forget a player when most people nowadays did not even know his team existed.

Another reason was his style of play was far from the prettiest, as was the case for players like Shore, Morenz and Taylor. And his reputation as a bully did not endear him to many fans. He was known more than once to participate in stick swinging battles and other acts of violence.

While the sting of his scoring prowess was inevitable, his skating was down right slow and cumbersome. There were no fancy dashes to pull the crowd out of their seats for Old Poison. Instead, like a later day Phil Esposito or Tim Kerr, he relied on others to get him the puck once he parked himself in scoring position.

But he was lethal with his shot once he did get the puck. His shot was fast and heavy, and noted to cause a more than a few injuries to the maskless goalies of the era, most notably Lorne Chabot in the 1928 playoffs.

Cooper Smeaton, a referee of the day, regarded Stewart as one of the all time greats.

"In today's game," said Smeaton back in the 1980s, "Nels would have scored 100 goals. He was terrific in front of the net, a big strong fellow who had moves like a cat. Stewart never seemed to be paying any attention to where the puck was and, if you were checking him, he'd even hold little conversation with you; but the minute he'd see the puck coming his way he'd bump you, take the puck and go off and score."

Another referee, Bobby Hewitson, was not a fan.

"I always felt that Stewart had an exaggerated reputation. I never thought he was such a great player. Nels was big and tall but awfully lazy. He wouldn't backcheck and he'd just stand around the net waiting for the centering pass, then flip the puck in. That much he could do. We used to say that Nels stood in one spot all of the time."

Its hard to believe a Hart Trophy winner and NHL goal scoring champ could have scored 324 goals by being lazy. Perhaps Stewart was more deceptive than lazy. After all, detractors also mislabeled more modern big men of the game such as Frank Mahovlich and Mario Lemieux.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Red Dutton

Mervyn Dutton, forever known as Red thanks to his flaming hair, was a mean, no nonsense defender in the days between the two World Wars. Though long forgotten, he still ranks among the all the best.

His career almost never happened, and perhaps should not have. Red's hockey career was almost ended before he even started. Serving in World War I, Dutton was severely injured during the battle of Vimy Ridge. A huge piece of shrapnel ripped open his thigh and calf, seriously injuring one of his legs. At one point doctors considered amputating, but Dutton was able to survive the horrifying ordeal.

After 20 months on the front lines of the war, Dutton was returned to Canada where he rehabilitated his injured leg. While most people would be thrilled just to walk again, Dutton had every intention of returning to the game he loved. He practiced seven hours a day for weeks at a time in order to strengthen his leg to the point where he could successfully play hockey.

Born in Russell, Manitoba, Dutton was the son of a very successful construction magnate. He grew up playing hockey, while also building his strength while working on one of his father's railway contracts. Soon he was the talk of Manitoba. But he would lie about his age, and at 18 he entered the war two years too young.

Dutton returned to Manitoba in 1919, and it took a full three years to get back to the top of his game. In 1922 the Calgary Tigers of the Western Canada Hockey League signed him, and for the next four years he would star on the Calgary blue line. Make no mistake, the WCHL was a top league at that time. Eddie Shore, Frank Boucher and Bill and Bun Cook all starred in the league as well.

The league ultimately would fold by 1926, as the NHL monopolized top level professional hockey. Dutton would join the Montreal Maroons in 1926, and patrol the rear zone for four seasons.

Naturally, the Montreal Maroons were the cross-city arch rivals of the Montreal Canadiens, and Dutton certainly was front and center in the rivalry over his time there, clashing with the infamous Sprague Cleghorn on a few occasions. One night famed reporter Trent Frayne said that in the battle between the two of them "blood flowed like wine."

In another contest the opening face off was delayed because the referee could not find a puck to play with. The truculent Dutton clearly had other things than scoring goals on his mind, as he supposedly became frustrated and shouted "Never mind the damn puck! Let's start the game!"

After what he went through during the war, I guess you can not blame him too much for being so irritable! He once set a NHL record with 139 PIMs in a season, back when the schedule only featured 44 games.

When Maroons coach Eddie Gerard was named general manager of the New York Americans, one of the first players he sought out was his old favorite defender. Dutton joined the Amerks in 1930, and quickly established himself as one of the most popular athletes in all of New York city. He would play until 1936.

Not only did Dutton play, but he ended up owning the team. The Amerks, owned by notorious bootlegger Bill Dwyer, ran into great financial difficulty during the Great Depression. Dutton, thanks to his father's money, was able to keep the franchise afloat, loaning Dwyer money that he never got back. Instead he ended up with possession of the NHL franchise. Dutton decided as owner he had to leave the ice, but he became the team's coach.

World War II effectively killed the New York Americans, who played their last season as the Brooklyn Americans. Players leaving the team for the war effectively decimated the team to the point where Dutton was forced to close up shop in 1942. But he would remain high in power in the NHL, taking over from the deceased Frank Calder as the NHL's president.

Dutton's presidency only lasted until 1946. He opted to get out of hockey and exploit the very successful family construction business. Dutton returned to Western Canada and retired in Calgary.

Elected as a player to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958, Dutton stayed in the game by serving as a Stanley Cup trustee for more than 3 and 1/2 decades beginning in 1950. He was also recognized for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States when he was posthumously awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1993.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hooley Smith

Reginald "Hooley" Smith was a wonderful hockey player in the 1920s and 1930s. A cocky player with a nasty streak, there was nothing that Smith could not do. He was described as a "hockey genius" and its easy to see why - a hardnosed winger/center who was an expert defensively (his trademark was his famous hook check) and explosive offensively. He had great speed and a temper with a short fuse.

Smith first became known to hockey fans in 1921 as a member of the Toronto Granites. He quickly became a star with the Granites, leading the OHA Senior league team to the famous Allan Cup in both 1922 and 1923. In 1924 the Granites were selected to represent Canada at the winter Olympics in Chamonix France. Canada easily dominated the tournament, led by Harry Watson's 36 goals in 5 games! Smith scored 17 times in as many games. Canada of course won the gold.

Upon his return from the Olympics, Smith, like several Granites players, became the focus of somewhat of a bidding war. NHL teams were very much interested in his services, and eventually the Ottawa Senators convinced Smith to sign for the 1924-25 season.

Smith spent 3 years in the nation's capital, often playing on a line with Frank Nighbor and Cy Denneny! Talk about a great line! Smith's job was to create room physically for his two great line mates, as well as play strong defensively. He also chipped in strongly offensively, but was criticized for taking too many penalties.

In his final game with the Senators, Smith attacked Harry Oliver of the Bruins in the 1927 Stanley Cup finals. A bloody brawl ensued. When all was said and done, Smith was suspended for one month effective in the next season.

Despite winning the '27 Cup, the cash strapped Senators sold sometimes troublesome Smith to the Montreal Maroons in October 1927, picking up Harry Punch Broadbent in the process. Smith was quickly placed on right wing with Nels Stewart and Jimmy Ward. Eventually Ward was dropped to another line while Babe Siebert moved up on LW. The trio of Smith-Stewart-Siebert instantly became a hit. Siebert's big physical play, Stewart's goal scoring genius and Smith's speed and defense created as perfect a trio that ever played in the National Hockey League. The line is forever known as the "S" Line.

By 1932 both Siebert and Stewart had left the Maroons. In their absence Smith moved to center ice, reuniting with Ward on LW. They were joined by Baldy Northcott on the right wing. The new line managed to accomplish something that S Line never did - bring the Stanley Cup to the Maroons in 1935.

By 1936 the Maroons too were struggling financially and sold their captain to the Boston Bruins. Siebert played just one year in Boston before again being sold to the New York Americans. In New York Smith was a jack-of-all-trades, playing on a line with Rod Beattie and Johnny Sorrell, but also playing on defense with big Joe Jerwa.

Smith's days in New York weren't all good though. His battles with coach Red Dutton were legendary, and eventually cost him his job. Smith was suspended for insubordination in what proved to be his final campaign.

Smith retired with 200 goals and 215 assists for 415 points in 715 games. Those numbers are very impressive considering the era he played in.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Babe Siebert

Albert "Babe" Siebert was a great hockey player, and an even better person.

Siebert was one of those few players who could do it all - excelling both as a power forward and an all star defenseman. You don't see that any longer! He was as strong as an ox, making him nearly impossible to stop. In addition he added very good skating abilities with good straight-ahead speed. He was very responsible defensively and though he never had the scoring exploits of his famous "S" Line teammates, he was an underrated shooter and a skillful playmaker.

Born in Plattsville, Ontario, Jan. 14, 1904, and played his minor hockey in Zurich, Ontario. He played for Kitchener in the OHA in 1922-23 and quickly elevated to the senior level, playing with Niagara Falls. In 1925-26 Siebert made the jump into the National Hockey League with the Montreal Maroons, just in time to taste sweet victory from the Stanley Cup.

Though Siebert was initially utilized as a defenseman, Siebert quickly earned a reputation as an outstanding left winger when he replaced Jimmy Ward on a line with Nels Stewart and newcomer Hooley Smith. The line was quickly dubbed as the S-line, one of the most famous trios in hockey history.

After several strong scoring seasons, the trio was shockingly broken up in 1932 when the cash starved Maroons traded Stewart to Boston and Siebert to the Rangers. Siebert, who was coming off of a career high 21 goals in his last season with the Maroons, spent 1 1/2 seasons in New York before he was traded to Boston.

It was a unique situation in Boston as Siebert's hated rival Eddie Shore was on the team. The two never spoke and it was obvious they didn't like each other. Earlier in their careers they had a bloody fight in which Siebert administered a beating on Shore, who was allegedly held down by another Maroon.

Unable to recapture any magic in Boston, Siebert was mistakenly written off as being in the twilight of his career. The Bruins moved Siebert to Montreal, though this time he was to play with the fabled Canadiens.

The Canadiens realized that Siebert no longer had the speed needed to excel at forward, so they moved him back to the blue line. The move by coach Cecil Hart was sheer genius, as Siebert was reinvented into one of the league's best players again. Some would argue he was never better.

Siebert, who was also named as team captain, played in 3 seasons in Montreal, being named to the first all star team on defense in all three years. He was also named as the league's most valuable player in 1937, a rarity for NHL defensemen. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to have seen his best days gone by.

Babe Siebert died tragically on Aug. 25, 1939, in St. Joseph, Ontario, as the result of a drowning accident. He was trying to retrieve an inflated rubber tube that had drifted out into the middle of the lake. He was supposed to take over as coach of the Canadiens that autumn.

His death left his family in great financial distress. The NHL stepped in and held a memorial game for him, much like they did for Ace Bailey and Howie Morenz. The proceeds of $15,000 went to Siebert's widow and 2 daughters. This was the third all-star game in NHL history.

That's the kind of person Siebert was. On the ice he was as strong as on ox, but off of it he was a pussy cat.

Sportswriter Elmer Ferguson wrote the following about Siebert the hockey player, and Siebert the man.

"The Babe would become embroiled in fistic battles. Perhaps he would suffer penalties, earn the disfavor of the crowd by his bruising style of play. Perhaps the game would make him seem like a crude and uncouth person, rough and brutal. From the dressing room, the Babe would stride along the promenade until he reached the chair where his fragile bit of an invalid wife sat. Bending down, he would kiss her, then he would gather her up into his great muscular arms, stride out of the rink, and deposit her carefully in a waiting car that would take her home to the kiddies that he adored so much."

Dinny Dinsmore

Don't get me wrong. I like Mike Richards. A lot. But when news broke on Thursday that the Philadelphia Flyers signed their heart and soul player to a 12 year, 69 million dollar contract extension, I had to shake my head.

Now Richards will only be 34 when the contract ends, and if there ever was a sure bet to provide a solid return on that investment, it is Richards. But 12 years and $69 million are ridiculous numbers no matter who you are.

These big contracts always make me think back to players of the old days, who in many cases passed up higher paying "real" jobs in order to play the game that they love.

Case in point - Dinny Dinsmore.

Dinsmore was a spare player for the Montreal Maroons for three seasons from 1924-25 through 1926-27. He rarely saw ice time but did score 6 goals in 100 games and earned a Stanley Cup championship in 1926.

As you can imagine, hockey players in those days didn't make much money, and often quit in order to take on a better paying "real" job. That's exactly what Dinny did in 1927. He jumped at a lucrative offer to become a bond trader. Although he did some coaching in the Montreal senior leagues while he worked as a trader, Dinsmore missed playing the game of hockey terribly. So half way through the 1929-30 season he went back to Montreal Maroon management to inquire about getting his old job back.

The Maroons too were interested in Dinsmore's services. However the team was limited by a $35,000 salary budget in those days, and there was simply no money to spare. Dinsmore didn't care about the money though, and eventually signed a contract which paid him one dollar - ONE DOLLAR - for the remainder of the season. He played 9 games that year - that works out to 11 cents a game!

So there you have it - hockey's lowest paid player in history was just happy to be back on skates playing the game he loved. I wonder if Alexei Yashin knows about this story?

By the way, Dinsmore later returned to coaching, guiding Concordia University's hockey and football teams for most of the 1930s.

Sprague Cleghorn

Sprague Cleghorn

Sprague Cleghorn is one of the game's all time best defensemen, but also one of the most aggressive. Perhaps too aggressive.

A monster with a short fuse, Cleghorn was also incredibly skilled. He emulated Cyclone Taylor, once scoring 5 goals in one game. In 17 years, including NHA totals, he scored 163 goals. He also helped the 1920 and 1921 Ottawa Senators and the 1924 Canadiens win the Stanley Cup.

But his on ice greatness has been forever overshadowed by his on ice antics. He played the game with vigilante vigor

Cleghorn started out as property of the Montreal Wanderers before joining the Senators. The Wanderers folded only 6 games into their inaugural NHL season after their arena burned down. The Wanderers' players were dispersed across the league. Despite a broken leg and domestic problems with his wife, Cleghorn was given a chance to prove he wasn't washed up, like many people were claiming.

Cleghorn would go on to be the star and the early day Ottawa Senators. Teamed with names like Cy Denneny, Jack Darragh, Punch Broadbent, Frank Nighbor and Clint Benedict, the great skating Cleghorn anchored the Senators defense to Stanley Cup victories in 1920 and 1921.

Sprague was never popular in Ottawa, even when he played there. In one game against Montreal Cleghorn viciously attacked Newsy Lalonde with his stick, reportedly drawing the ire of police although no charges were ever drawn.

Whenever he played against former Ottawa teammates, Cleghonr often instigated brawls and cheap shots as if he seemed to have a personal vendetta against certain players. In fact, in one playoff game, after Cleghorn viciously cross checked Lionel Hitchmen, his own team fined and suspended him for the rest of the playoffs. The decision was even handed down before the NHL had time to rule on it.

Tired of Cleghorn's ruthlessness and undisciplined play, the Senators decided on releasing the most feared man in hockey in 1921. The league assigned him to the Hamilton Tigers but the Montreal Canadiens desperately wanted the local native as a drawing card for home games. They executed one of the first trades in league history, as Montreal sent Harry Mummery, Cully Wilson and Amos Arbour for Cleghorn and defenseman Bill Couture.

Cleghorn was very upset with Ottawa for letting him go, and was determined to get revenge the only way he knew how. In one of the first clashes between Cleghorn's new team versus his old, reports claimed prior to the game that Sprague would settle the score once and for all with Ottawa for dropping him after he helped them win the 1920 Stanley Cup. He would go on to viciously injure 4 Senator players - Cy Denneny, Frank Nighbor, Tommy Gorman and Eddie Gerard. Cleghorn's disgraceful conduct in resulted police action and even league movement to ban him from the NHL for life. Reportedly two teams would not agree to the ban.

Despite such actions, Cleghorn continually produced results, including helping the Habs win their first Stanley Cup as a member of the National Hockey League.

After a stint with the Boston Bruins, Cleghorn, once described by an NHL official as "a disgrace," retired in 1928. His numbers were unarguably great - 84 goals and 123 points in 256 games as a defenseman. His PIMs total was 489.

Sprague Cleghorn died in Montreal in 1956. Two years later, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Herb Cain

Coaches love a player who practices as hard as he plays. Herb Cain was an enthusiastic and gifted skater who fits the previous description. However his energetic approach almost killed him in one infamous practice in 1939.

Montreal Maroons manager Tommy Gorman believed too many of his veterans were lugging the puck behind the net prior to the heading for the opposition's territory. Before a practice session, Gorman decided to block off the area behind the net by attaching a rope to the goal and extending it to each of the side boards. The players weren't allowed to skate behind their goal before starting a rush.

Herb Cain was the first player on the ice. Unfortunately for Cain, no one told him or his teammates that the obstructive barrier had been erected. In a typical and energetic fashion, Cain stepped on the ice and quickly was in full flight. He eyed a puck which happened to be sitting a few feet behind the rope. Herb was so focused on the puck he failed to notice the rope.

Cain was reportedly flying at about 20 miles per hour when he was clothes-lined by the rope. He quickly became entangled in the rope and with the moment behind him, began whirling upside down like a Ferris Wheel. He would eventually land on his back and was knocked unconscious.

As vicious as this incident was, Cain's injury was not serious.

Fortunately Cain had better times with the Maroons. With line-mates Bob Gracie and Gus Marker, Cain was the shining emerald of "The Green Line." The trio led the English Montrealers to the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1935.

In November of 1939 he was traded to Boston where he would emerge as one of hockey's top players. In 1943-44, while playing on a line with Bill Cowley and Art Jackson, set the NHL record for points in one season with 82. A very popular player with the Bruins fans, Cain's other big moment with the Bruins came in 1945-46 when he became just the 13th player in NHL history to score 200 goals in a career.

His departure from Boston left the bitterest of memories for Cain. Art Ross, the Bruins boss, decided Cain's career in the NHL was over. Though other teams inquired about his services, Ross was determined to bury Cain, a 2nd team all star just two years earlier, in the minor leagues.

Why? Turns out Cain held out for more money one year in Boston. Nowadays players withholding their services for more money is commonplace, but back then it simply was not done, and anyone who tried was punished. Cain was punished by being sent down to AHL Hershey with the condition that Hershey could not sell him to any NHL club.

The banishment was doubly embittering for Cain. In addition to the humiliation of being removed from the NHL, Cain would not be able to qualify for the new NHL pension. Some believe this punishment also kept him out of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He remains the only eligible former NHL scoring champion yet to be inducted into the the Hall.

"The NHL was like a little house league then," Cain told Brian McFarlane in the book The Bruins. "The six owners simply made up their own rules, called each other up and made deals, and settled things among themselves. They players had no clout, no say in anything."

In 1955 he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease, the same cancer that Mario Lemieux would make famous many decades later. Back then there was little hope of his survival, so Cain agreed to become the human guinea pig for a serum that had positive effects in animal testing. Miraculously Cain's health was restored and he lived for another thirty years, gaining employment with a sheet metal company.

Cain, who passed away in 1982, played in 570 NHL games and scored 206 goals and 400 points.

Bill Beveridge

It is very sad that some excellent goalers will never be recognized for their abilities because they played for a bad team. A few, like Roy Worters and Chuck Rayner, have been , but Bill Beveridge hasn't.

Beveridge was born in 1909 and played his hockey in his hometown of Ottawa with local teams. Naturally, the Ottawa Senators owned Beveridge, but oddly enough, Jack Adams of Detroit wasn't satisfied with Clarence "Dolly" Dolson despite making the playoffs in 1928-29 and asked Ottawa for Beveridge on a loan basis.

Ottawa agreed and Beveridge had a bad rookie season with Detroit and Adams refused to purchase him, thus Beveridge was back as Ottawa's property. However, during the 1930-31 season Alex Connell wasn't playing well and manager-coach Dave Gill decided to go with Beveridge for 8 games. He lost every one of them and his goals against average was a sorry 3.69.

When Ottawa suspended operations for the 1931-32 season, Beveridge found himself in the minors with Providence. He led the Canadian-American league in wins that year.

Ottawa was back in the NHL for 1932-33 and Connell had the Senators doing fairly well early in the season. However, Connell injured his knee in a December game against Chicago and Beveridge became the Senators goaler. He did very well in his first 8 games, getting 3 shutouts. But both the Senators and Beveridge faded after that. When Connell came back, he was sub-par and so he was benched by coach Cy Denneny and Beveridge was the Ottawa goaler for the rest of the season. Even Beveridge didn't do well at that point and the Senators plummeted to the cellar where they finished.

He toiled valiantly in front of his inexperienced and old defense in 1933-34, but after this season, the Senators folded until 1992-93 when they would return to the league. After a bad year in St.Louis with the sickly Eagles, the Montreal Canadiens drafted him when the Eagles folded, and sold him to their rivals, the Maroons who needed a goaler when Alex Connell retired temporarily. He had a good year, but the strain of goalkeeping got to him and he quit when Tommy Gorman got Lorne Chabot from Chicago.

Beveridge couldn't get back in the line-up when Chabot took over. Chabot played so well that he won the job. However, Chabot was 35 and it was time for him to retire, so Beveridge was not out of a job just yet. Even though Connell came back in 1936-37, he was inconsistent and after a 5-0 humiliation by the Canadiens, Gorman called Beveridge back and he played very well as the Maroons almost nipped the Canadiens for second place in the Canadian Division. Beveridge's great goalkeeping beat Boston in the playoffs, but after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers in which Dave Kerr, the former Maroon, time and again foiled Maroon forwards with sensational saves, the Maroons lost heart and bowed 4-0 to the Rangers in what would be the Maroons final playoff game.

As the result of selling players and trading youngsters like Toe Blake, when Lionel Conacher retired
it weakened the defense and it wasn't surprising when the Maroons plummeted to the cellar and gave up the most goals against in 1937-38. Crowds were few and the team lost money. When the Maroons folded after that season, Beveridge's NHL career, it seemed, was over.

He spent 4 years in the minors, some of those years successfully. Then World War II was in full swing and NHLers did their duty and forsook the NHL for the sake of their country. With so many now joining the military, suddenly ex-NHLers were needed in the NHL, and when Jimmy Franks, New York Rangers goaler, was injured, Beveridge was an NHLer once more. He was welcomed back with a shower of rubber as Chicago bombed the Rangers 10-1.

Ironically, he got the Rangers only shutout that season, a 4-0 shutout over the Toronto Maple Leafs. But now it was Beveridge's turn to do his duty to his country, and he joined the Canadian Army. He played for the Ottawa Commandos of the Quebec Senior League the next few seasons and then retired. He was at the Senators opening game when Ottawa returned to the NHL in 1992-93,and saw Don Beaupre get the first shutout for a Senators goaler in 50 years during the 1994-95 season, just before he died February 13th, 1995.

Clint Benedict

Many fans today automatically assume Georges Vezina was the first great goaltender, after all his name lives on with the trophy that honours the best goalie in the NHL each year. But many would argue Clint Benedict of the Ottawa Senators and later the Montreal Maroons was the better netminder. And if it were not for Vezina's tragic death, goalies today could very well be dreaming of winning a Benedict Trophy.

Yet you would be hard pressed to find a fan who knows who "Praying Bennie" was.

Clint Benedict greatly influenced goaltending as we know it. He was responsible for a significant rule change that allowed goalies to leave their feet to stop the puck. Originally, and unthinkable to today's fans, goalies would be given a 2 minute penalty for falling on the ice to make a save. But Benedict made an art out of the accidental fall on the puck, admitting that "if you did it a bit sneaky and made it look accidental, you could fall on the puck without being penalized." These comments made NHL rule makers aware of the problem and from that point on goaltenders were allowed to fall to the ice to stop pucks. He spent so much time on the ice he quickly earned the nickname Praying Bennie!

Also influencing the position was his rudimentary mask. Jacques Plante is inaccurately portrayed as the first goalie to wear a mask. While Plante was the first to regularly wear one, Clint Benedict was the first to wear a mask in a game. Benedict was hit in the nose by a rifle- like shot by Howie Morenz. Benedict wore a tailor made mask in an attempt to protect the wound, but after just one game, a 2-1 loss against Chicago, with the leather mask he decided not to wear as he felt it obstructed his vision and would lead to more losses.

Born in Ottawa in 1892, he played for 17 seasons, four of which were on Stanley Cup winning teams -- three with the Ottawa Senators and one with the Montreal Maroons.

Born in Ottawa in 1892, Clint Benedict would star with the original Senators. He apprenticed for 5 seasons with the Sens in the National Hockey Association, the forerunner to the NHL, guiding his team to an unsuccessful Stanley Cup appearance in 1915. An equally notable lacrosse player, Benedict was a solid goaltender on the verge of stardom. Wearing his trademark cricket-style leg pads that he would wear beyond Pop Kenesky's creation of the modern goalie pads, the ill tempered Benedict was already establishing himself with opponents as an unfriendly and combative foe.

Benedict reached his prime as the Senators joined the newly minted National Hockey League. Led by the goaltending of Benedict, superstars Cy Denneny and Frank Nighbor, and the clutch playoff scoring of Jack Darragh, the Senators were the NHL's first dynasty, winning three Stanley Cups in the four seasons between 1920 and 1923.

Based on the rudimentary statistics of the era, Benedict was undisputedly the NHL's top goalie. He led the NHL in wins in 6 of the 7 seasons with Senators, and lead or shared the lead in shutouts and GAA in each of those 7 seasons. In fact, in his most impressive season (in 1919-20) his 2.66 goals-against mark was 2.13 goals better than the league average. However there was no such thing as a Vezina trophy back then to honour the best goalie each season. Under the original Vezina trophy rules of best GAA, Benedict would have had owned the trophy.

In October 1924, the cash-strapped Senators sold off Benedict and scoring ace Punch Broadbent to the Montreal Maroons in exchange solely for cash. His six seasons with the weaker Maroons were not quite as dominant statistically, yet he was honoured as Montreal's best player upon his arrival. A year later in 1926, Benedict, with a puny 0.75 GAA, led the Maroons to the Stanley Cup, giving him the the distinction of being the first netminder to backstop two different NHL teams to Stanley Cup championships.

Clint Benedict was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965, two decades after Georges Vezina and Charlie Gardner, the two goalies among the original 12 inductees. Benedict himself suggested this was a blatant example of how political the hockey world can be, for some reason the powers that be kept Benedict out of the Hall, instead inducting the very worthy Hugh Lehman, Percy LeSueur and George Hainsworth as Hall of Fame goaltenders before finally inducting Benedict.

Baldy Northcott

Many players over the course of hockey history have had there first names replaced by a great nickname. Butch Goring. Tiger Williams. Bunny Larocque. Rocket Richard. Pokey Reddick. All fine examples. The same can be said about Lawrence " Baldy" Northcott.

The other day someone asked me what was Baldy Northcott's given name. I have to admit, I had no idea. I had always known him as Baldy! It turns out his real name is Lawrence by the way.

So Lawrence was nicknamed Baldy because of his lack of hair right? Wrong! Northcott was nicknamed Baldy out of sarcasm. Northcott had a beautiful mane of dark, thick hair which he adored.

Northcott was a big scrappy winger who also saw some action on defense. He loved to play a rugged style that saw him dominate the corners in his day. He was a Rick Tocchet or Shayne Corson of his day.

Baldy broke in with the Montreal Maroons late in 1929. Soon he was placed on a line with speedy Jim Ward and Dave Trottier, who later was replaced by the incredible Hooley Smith. Twice Northcott scored 20 goals in an era when 20 was an incredible total. Another year he scored 19. But it was his aggressive play that was his true contribution to the team.

The Maroons won the Stanley Cup in 1935 and Northcott was a big part of that. He led all playoff scorers in scoring with 4 goals and 5 points. 3 of his 4 goals were game winners. If they had given out a playoff MVP award back then, surely Northcott would have won it that year.

Northcott played 8 full seasons for the Maroons before playing one quiet season with the Boston Bruins in 1938-39. Northcott, originally from Calgarcy, then retired from the NHL and head back out west and coach junior hockey in the Winnipeg area.

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