Saturday, February 2, 2008

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.

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