Category Archives: Hockey History

Engraved in History… 2022… 1912… and 1907

Congratulations to the Colorado Avalanche who, on Sunday night, became Stanley Cup champions for the 2021-22 NHL season. It’s Colorado’s first Cup victory in 21 years, since 2001, and the team’s third since relocating from Quebec City for the 1995-96 season. The Nordiques, of course, never won the Stanley Cup, although they were Avco Cup champions of the World Hockey Association in 1976-77.

(Congratulations also to the newest members elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, who were elected on Monday: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Alfredsson, Roberto Luongo, Riikka Sallinen, and Herb Carnegie.)

Image off of my TV of the Avalanche with the Stanley Cup.

Top-tier hockey in Quebec City dates back to around 1879, and even though the Nordiques were never champions of the NHL, Quebec is not without a Stanley Cup title. Two, in fact. You just have to go back 110 years to find them. In 1912, and again in 1913, the Quebec Bulldogs of the National Hockey Association won back-to-back championships.

Not surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of similarities between Colorado’s victory in 2022 and Quebec’s in 1912. For one thing, the Avalanche completed an 82-game schedule and four rounds of playoffs with a championship victory on June 26. The Bulldogs became champions on March 5 at the conclusion of an 18-game regular season without the need of playoffs. And Quebec certainly wasn’t facing a team from Tampa Bay in 1912. American cities weren’t yet allowed to complete. The key victory for Quebec that year came in Ottawa, with later wins at home against a team from Moncton, New Brunswick.

These are the 1913 Bulldogs … but it’s a better image than the 1912 pictures.

Hockey was a very different game back then. It was played on natural ice that relied on cold (winter) temperatures. The players would look ridiculously small, and poorly equipped, to modern eyes. There was no giant 32-team league that controlled the Stanley Cup, as the NHL does today. Train travel meant leagues were small and regional. In order to ensure that the Stanley Cup was a Canadian national trophy, the champion of one league was able to challenge the champion of another for the ultimate hockey prize.

Before the 1911-12 season, a new league was added to the national landscape: the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Brothers Frank and Lester Patrick raided the NHA’s Bulldogs, as well as the Montreal Canadiens and Montreal Wanderers, to help stock their new teams in Vancouver, Victoria and New Westminster. Only the defending NHA and Stanley Cup champion Ottawa Senators were left in tact, a move which left most experts of the day predicting Ottawa would romp to another NHA title. Instead, the four-team race that year was remarkably close.

Heading into the final weekend of the season, Quebec had a record of 9-and-8. Ottawa was 9-and-7, while the Wanderers were 8-and-8. Only the Canadiens were out of contention at 7-and-10. On March 2, 1912, the Canadiens beat the Wanderers 2-1 to eliminate them from championship contention while the Bulldogs visited the Senators. A win for the home team would clinch another NHA title, but a win for the visitors would keep their championship hopes alive.

A small group of fans was on hand from Quebec City, but they were drowned out by 6,000 Ottawa faithful as the Senators took a 2–0 lead after one period. Future Hall of Famers Joe Hall and Joe Malone of Quebec scored in the second to tie the game before Ottawa went back on top with two goals midway through the third.

The summary in Quebec’s Daily Telegraph shows Joe Malone with the
overtime winner, while the summary in the Chronicle lists Joe Hall

Again Quebec fought back for a tie, but Ottawa went ahead 5–4 with just three minutes remaining. As the final seconds were ticking down, many Ottawa fans began to take their celebration into the streets, but with only about 10 seconds to go, Joe Malone scored to tie the game. It took until three minutes into a second overtime session for Quebec to emerge with a 6–5 victory — and newspapers seem to be equally split over whether Joe Malone or Joe Hall netted the winner.

Over 10,000 people greeted the Bulldogs when their train arrived back in Quebec City on Sunday evening. There was a brass band and a bugle corps leading a parade through the streets, and players were called on to make speeches. The Quebec Chronicle refers to Joe Hall as being treated as the hero of heroes, though the Daily Telegraph credited Malone with the winner. But whoever had scored, the Bulldogs hadn’t won the NHA title and the Stanley Cup just yet.

The Senators now had to make up a protested game from earlier in the season. If they beat the Montreal Wanderers they would be tied with Quebec and there would be a playoff. So, on the evening of March 6, 1912, the Bulldogs and some of their fans gathered for a banquet at the Victoria Hotel in Quebec City.

Course after course of fine food was served from a menu on which the first page paid tribute to Quebec players Paddy Moran, Goldie Prodger, Joe Hall, Jack Marks, Eddie Oatman, Jack MacDonald, and Joe Malone. The tribute was in the form of a song parody, spoofing the popular 1910 Billy Murray hit, What’s the Matter with Father? (People of my vintage will likely recognize the tune from What’s the Matter with Flintstone? from an early episode of the cartoon we all watched for years at lunch time.)

What's the matter with Goaler 'Pat'?
          He's all right!
To 'Goldie' Prodger lift your hat —
          He's all right.
Joe Hall would make a team alone;
Marks and Oatman hold their own.
What's the matter with 'Mac' and Malone?
          They're all right.

A special telegraph wire was set up to provide everyone at the hotel with details of the game in Ottawa. When word came that the Wanderers had scored a 5–2 victory, the celebrations started all over again, with the Daily Telegraph reporting that people were soon singing the new song in rooms all over the hotel and then in the streets throughout the city.

The following week, the Bulldogs played a Stanley Cup challenge series against the Moncton Victorias, champions of the Maritime Professional Hockey League. “Whether the trophy will remain here long or not, will depend on the ability of he Moncton team,” reported the Quebec Daily Telegraph, which reminded its readers that, “Judging from the advance notices, Quebec will have no easy thing to handle in the Moncton team.”

But, in fact, Quebec had a very easy time as the Bulldogs romped to victory in the two-game, total-goals series with a 9-3 win on March 11 and an 8-0 rout two nights later. The next season, with the NHA expanded to six teams with the addition of the Toronto Blueshirts and the Toronto Tecumsehs, Quebec rampaged through the 20-game season with a record of 16-and-4, and then crushed another Maritime team, the Sydney Millionaires, 14-3 and 6-2 to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

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My New Book is Available Now!

It’s fairly obvious to anyone who reads the stories I post that I love these “time travel” hockey tales. That’s why, when Rick Brignall contacted me a little over two years ago and asked if I’d be interested in writing the full story of the Kenora Thistles’ Stanley Cup victory of 1907, I told him that I’d kick myself if this book came out someday and I wasn’t involved with it. Now, finally, the book is ready!

As you may recall, Engraved in History: The Story of the Kenora Thistles and the Stanley Cup was originally scheduled to come out last November. A tactical delay, and then more Covid, pushed things back. (Floods this spring around Winnipeg and Kenora didn’t help either!) Now, the book is coming out in two stages. There will be a “National Launch” this fall, when you’ll be able to find the book on Amazon or, hopefully, at a store near you.

Until then, the book is available in Kenora, and will be available in my hometown of Owen Sound as well. But if you would like to purchase copies right now, and can’t get to Kenora or Owen Sound, fear not! You can order them online and copies will be mailed to you right away. You will have to pay for shipping, however.

The site is: Click on the book cover when you get there. (The site is a little slim at the moment, but it will improve in the days ahead and is already good to.)

If you prefer to support an independent bookseller, Elizabeth Campbell Books/Darlington Gallery in Kenora has copies for sale too. Go to the Contact page on Elizabeth’s web site, where you’ll find a phone number you can call, or a comments section you can fill out.

If you are in Kenora, Rick will have the first copies for sale today at the local Farmer’s Market. (There will be a bigger event on Canada Day and the books will be available at the Cottage Guide booth at the Farmer’s Market all summer long.) They’ll also be available soon at the Lake of the Woods Museum.

In the Owen Sound area, I’ll have a few copies to sell at the Farmer’s Market in Flesherton on the morning of Saturday, July 16. Copies should be available at The Ginger Press in Owen Sound a little before that. (We’ll have something of a “Christmas in July” to celebrate at Ginger Press around the 25th or so.)

Come fall, with the full launch, we’ll have much more publicity, promotion and events.

In the meantime, if you have any other questions, you can contact me directly at

You’ve Gotta Have Hart … But Come o-n-n-n, Teeder!

Well, let’s face it. It ain’t the Stanley Cup. Then again, the Leafs have won the Stanley Cup twice in my lifetime. (I don’t remember them. I was six months old in 1964 and 3 1/2 years old in 1967.) But I wasn’t even born the last time a Toronto player was named the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. Before last night, it had only happened twice in team history.

I don’t understand where the stars of the current team go once the playoffs start. Better analysts than I am have (and will continue) to discuss that. But Auston Matthews has won the Hart Trophy after a team record-breaking 60-goal season. You can’t take that away from him. And even if you want to argue that Connor McDavid is still the better player, the voting wasn’t all that close.

I took this picture with my phone off the TV during last night’s NHL Awards.

What do sportswriters know?

Well, Matthews also won the Ted Lindsay Award, and that’s given to the most outstanding player as voted on by his fellow players. If they think he deserves it, who are we to say he doesn’t?

The first Leafs player to win the Hart as MVP was Babe Pratt in 1944. The second — and last, until last night — was Teeder Kennedy in 1955.

The complete vote for the 2021-22 NHL MVP.

Ted Kennedy was just a 17-year-old kid when the Leafs acquired him in the spring of 1943. With so many players serving in the military during Word War II, the NHL was populated mainly with young kids and worn-out veterans.

Kennedy was never the most skilled player. He wasn’t very fast. He wasn’t a big scorer. But he was a good playmaker. Most importantly, he was a leader who knew how to win. He starred during the most successful era in team history, winning the Stanley Cup in 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951. He was named captain of the team before the 1948-49 season.

It’s often said that the Leafs used this red lettering only during the 1947-48 season …
But Teeder Kennedy wasn’t named the team captain until the following year.

Though he was still just 28 at the time, Teeder Kennedy had completed 11 seasons in the NHL by the end of 1953–54. He had planned to retire, but was convinced to come back for another year. Kennedy would score just 10 goals in 1954-55, but his 42 assists ranked third in the NHL and his leadership was a key reason why the Maple Leafs even made the playoffs.

Unlike the current team, the Leafs of Kennedy’s era won the Stanley Cup plenty of times, but didn’t win a lot of individual honours. “As coach Hap Day put it so well,” team owner Conn Smythe told reporters after the team’s Stanley Cup win in 1948, “we may not have the all-stars on our team, but we have the world champions.”

So it was somewhat ironic that Kennedy won the Hart Trophy in a year the Leafs struggled just to make the playoffs. (They were swept by the Detroit Red Wings, who went on to beat the Montreal Canadiens in seven games for the Stanley Cup.) But, when the results of the voting for the 1954-55 MVP award were announced, Kennedy easily out-polled teammate Harry Lumley as well as Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens. Gordie Howe and Red Kelly of the Stanley Cup champions were well back in the voting.

Still, the general censuses was that it was about time that Teeder Kennedy was finally recognized for his talents. Everyone seemed to agree, except perhaps for the Leafs captain himself. “It comes as quite a thrill, one of the biggest I’ve had in hockey,” said Kennedy. “But I believe it should have been Harry Lumley. Leafs would have been down the drain without him. And I’m not just being modest.”

Not only did Auston Matthews win the Hart Trophy last night, he and teammate Mitch Marner were both named to the First All-Star Team. The last time two Leafs made the First Team it was Frank Mahovlich and Carl Brewer in 1963!

“Kennedy deserves the Hart,” said the Leafs goalie. “I hate to think of us without him. He was the guy that made our club tick.”

Despite winning the Hart, Kennedy made good on his plans to retire … though he did return to the team again during the 1956-57 season to help out when the club was hit with a rash of injuries. After that, he retired for keeps.

Sixty years later, in 2017, Teeder Kennedy was ranked third all-time — behind Dave Keon and Syl Apps — when the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrated their centennial season by naming their top 100 players. Auston Matthews undoubtedly has more sheer talent than any of those three. He’s probably already among the greatest players in Toronto’s history. But if he’s ever truly going to be the best, he’s going to have to lead the Leafs to the Stanley Cup … and pretty darn soon!

Colorado Wins on History (But Don’t Doubt Tampa!)

The Stanley Cup Final starts tonight. For those among my readers who haven’t been following the NHL playoffs, it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Colorado Avalanche. By all accounts, it should be a good one!

I’m not much as a hockey analyst. I don’t really watch with a critical eye. So, as I offer my thoughts, I wouldn’t exactly go rushing off with them to one of the many (MANY!) sports books being advertised on hockey broadcasts throughout the playoffs.

Personally, I think that Colorado has the more talented team, but Tampa has the better goaltender. That often makes the difference. Before the playoffs started, I offered the opinion that I didn’t think the Lightning were going to win again. If they do, it’ll be three in a row. To me, that would automatically place them among the greatest teams of all time — especially when considering all the obstacles over the past couple of years. I’m not really convinced they’re that … but I wouldn’t bet against them at this point.

This is the earliest reference I have found to hockey in Denver.

That being said, you don’t come to me expecting analysis. You come to me (I hope!) for some historical perspective. So, here we go…

This year’s Colorado–Tampa Bay matchup guarantees it’ll be at least 30 years by 2023 since a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup. I think that as much as some Canadian fans enjoy watching hockey, they enjoy bashing Gary Bettman just as much. Though Bettman is the guy who spearheaded hockey’s southern expansion — capitalizing on the success of Wayne Gretzky in Los Angeles — he probably can’t take the blame for this long drought. I don’t really have an answer as to why Canadian teams haven’t won for so long. (I don’t think anyone really does.) It’s probably just a statistical quirk.

Denver versus Leadville for the State Championship.

Colorado, being ski country, at least seems like a winter state where there’s no reason not to enjoy hockey. And, indeed, the origins of hockey in Colorado go back to at least the late 1800s. According to the web site International Hockey Wiki, it was noted in the town of Leadville, Colorado, on December 17, 1890, by a Mr. M.A. Morland that there were a number of good skaters in the city, and that “There used to be a hockey club here and I cannot see why one should not be gotten up now.”

Leadville is in the center of the state, about 100 miles from Denver and not too far from Vail and Aspen. A game of ice polo (a similar, but different, sport) was reportedly played in Leadville on December 8, 1894, and hockey games were played at the Leadville Crystal Palace as part of the Leadville Crystal Carnival hockey tournament in 1896. Apparently, the Denver Athletic Club formed a team that same winter.

Leadville beat Denver 7-1.

The first mention of a hockey team in Denver that I could find in newspapers doesn’t appear until February of 1898. On February 2, 1898, the Leadville Herald Democrat reported that arrangements had been made for a game between the Denver AC and the local club for later that week. On game day, February 5, the same paper noted that the game that Saturday night would be for the state championship. The next day, the Leadville newspaper, with a lead in language so politically incorrect it just wouldn’t fly anymore, reported on the 7–1 victory of the home team, whose maroon, red, and white colors weren’t all that different from what the Avalanche wear in the NHL today.

Not surprisingly, hockey history in the Tampa Bay area isn’t quite as old. Though there was hockey being played in the Miami area as long ago as 1938 (which you’ll be able to read quite a bit about in my book Hockey Hall of Fame: True Stories when it comes out this fall), the first hockey team on Florida’s west coast isn’t quite that old, though its first campaign of 1971–72 was still 50 years ago this season.

According to information on the web site of the Society for International Hockey Research, the old Eastern Hockey League granted a franchise to the St. Petersburg area on May 12, 1971. However, the earliest reference I could find in a Tampa newspaper was from May 30, 1971. Tampa Tribune sports editor Tom McEwen confirmed the story on June 3, 1971, under the headline ‘The Icemen Cometh.’

As of then, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Wauchula area team had no name, but McEwen speculated that they would surely be dubbed “Suns, Stringrays, Porpoises, Pelicans, Sharks, Senior Citizens, Mullets, Geritols, Oysters, Ecologists, Suncoasters, Catfish, or Whatnots.” McEwen had cast a wide net, but he was more or less right on two counts when the rival Tampa Times reported on July 26, 1971, that the team had officially been dubbed the Suncoast Suns.

The Suncoast Suns lasted just two seasons in the EHL, and played a third and final year in 1973-74 in the Southern Hockey League. The team boasted at least two NHL players. There was Ed Kea during that first season of 1971–72. A native of Collingwood, Ontario, Kea went on to play with the Atlanta Flames and the St. Louis Blues between 1973 and 1983. There was also Cliff Pennington, of Winnipeg. Pennington, who finished out his hockey career playing all three seasons with the Suns in both leagues, had previously played in the NHL with Montreal and Boston over three seasons in the early 1960s.

So, there you go!

Tampa Tribune, June 3, 1971.

And, changing subjects… my Facebook memory this morning noted that it was two years ago today that I signed a contract to write a book about the Kenora Thistles. Two-plus years from signing to publication isn’t unheard of, but it is a little bit on the long side for me. So, here is a long-awaited update.

Engraved in History: the Story of the Stanley Cup Champion Kenora Thistles has now been printed! I expect to receive my own author’s copies any day now. The book will soon be available in the Kenora area in time for summer cottage season in the region. There will also be a web site where the book will be more widely available. As soon as I have information on that, I will pass it along. However, at this point, the book won’t truly go into “wide release” until the fall. At that point, you should be able to purchase copies on Amazon and through other booksellers too. We’ll have a full launch, with promotion and public appearances, in the fall as well.

Tampa Times, July 26, 1971.

Thanks, everyone, for your patience. Covid — and spring floods in Winnipeg and Kenora — certainly haven’t made this easy!

Same Team, Different World…

You may have heard the news, which broke Monday of last week, about Mitch Marner being carjacked at gunpoint. Coming as it did, just two days after Tampa Bay eliminated Toronto in game seven of the opening round of the NHL playoffs, it sort of sounded like the start of a bad joke. But it wasn’t.

Sadly, both carjacking and violent crime is on the rise in Toronto, as it is in so many cities. There is no indication that the carjackers were targeting Marner, or that the theft had anything to do with the Maple Leafs. The thieves only wanted his Range Rover. Marner surrendered his keys without incident – which is what police recommend. He was shaken, but not physically hurt.

Eighty years earlier, in 1942, crimes committed against a previous member of the Toronto hockey club were decidedly less violent, but certainly more personal.

Gordie Drillon is the last member of the Maple Leafs to lead the NHL in scoring.

In a way, the Maple Leafs of the 1930s were similar to the current team. Led by stars such as Charlie Conacher, who won two scoring titles and led the league in goals five times, and Joe Primeau, who was a Lady Byng Trophy winner and three-time league leader in assists, the Leafs were an exciting, high scoring team that couldn’t seem to get it done when it came to the playoffs.

Of course, a 10-year drought from 1932 until 1942 was nothing like the 55-years-and-counting of the current club. Plus, the Leafs of the 1930s did manage to win a round or two over the years. Still, after winning it all in 1932, the Leafs lost in the Stanley Cup Final in 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939 and 1940. Then, as now, critics felt the team was too soft, or simply not motivated enough, to win when it mattered most.

By the 1936-37 season, the Leafs had acquired two more young scoring stars in Syl Apps and Gordie Drillon. They also brought in Turk Broda as their new goalie that season. Still, Stanley Cup success was another five years off. Meanwhile, Drillon led the NHL with 26 goals and 52 points in the 48-game season of 1937-38, which makes him the last Leaf ever to lead the league in scoring. He continued to rank among the NHL’s top scorers over the next few years.

Mitch Marner and Joe Primeau.

Drillon was a great points producer, but was a little less talented when it came to other skills. He wasn’t much at digging the puck out of corners, nor was he great in his own end. He was a sniper, not a skater, and when the Detroit Red Wings took a three-games-to-nothing lead over Toronto in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final, Drillon was one of the players the Maple Leafs benched in order to shake up the lineup. The changes resulted in four straight wins for Toronto … but it was a tough time for Drillon.

“I had been dreaming about that Stanley Cup ever since I was a kid,” Drillon told Vern DeGeer, Sports Editor of The Globe and Mail, for his column on April 28, 1942. “It grew and grew in my mind each season. But when the series was finished out, and I wasn’t even on the bench, that Cup grew smaller and smaller. Just a shattered dream, I guess. [I] simply couldn’t stand it, so Mrs. Drillon and I went home after the second period. Heard the last period on the radio.

“I tried to take the whole affair with my chin up. I didn’t play well in the first games against Detroit, but I had thought I would get back into uniform before the series was over, even as an extra forward.

This appeared in Toronto newspapers on April 20, 1942.

“One of the toughest touches came after the fifth game here in Toronto. A bunch of hoodlums appeared at our apartment house about midnight, tossed stones at the windows, and put on a wild, hooting demonstration. Even the kids in the neighborhood got to booing me as I walked down the street. And only a few weeks previously I had been a pal to many of them.”

Unbeknownst to anyone, Drillon’s wife had been sick for some time and would soon require an operation. He never used it as an excuse, but he did tell DeGreer he was “going back to Moncton [and] I won’t be back with the Leafs next winter.”

It isn’t clear whether Drillon meant that he would refuse to return to Toronto or if he had been told that his services were no longer required by the Maple Leafs. Either way, Toronto sold him to Montreal for the 1942-43 season. Drillon score a career-high 28 goals for the Canadiens in 49 games played during the newly expanded 50-game schedule, but the next year, he left the NHL for service in the Canadian military during World War II.

Charlie Conacher and Auston Matthews.

After the war, Drillon returned to play a few seasons of senior hockey in the Maritimes. He never played in the NHL again, but (according to his biography for the Hockey Hall of Fame) he was welcomed back into the Maple Leaf family as their Maritime scout in the late 1960s, and recommended Errol Thompson to the Leafs brass.

Drillon certainly didn’t seem to hold any grudges. In March of 1985, he told Paul Patton of The Globe and Mail that he didn’t mind talking about the 1942 Stanley Cup. “Every time a team falls behind 3-0 in a playoff, even if it’s baseball, they bring it up,” he said. “That’s how people remember me.”

Fellow Maritimer and play-by-play legend Danny Gallivan reminisced about Drillon with Toronto Star columnist John Robertson for a story in that paper the day after Drillon’s death at age 72 on September 23, 1986.

“Gordie was a wonderful friend of hockey,” Gallivan recounted. “[He] never lost his love for the game, or became cynical or bitter as some old-timers did in their later years. When I put forward his name for the Hall of Fame [in 1975], a few of the skeptics said: ‘This man only played seven seasons in the NHL…’

Gordie Drillon battles with fellow future Hall of Famer Earl Seibert in front of
Chicago goalie Alfie Moore in Game One of the 1938 Stanley Cup Final.

“‘Yes,’ I said. ‘But he went to war for his country at the age of 29, in the prime of his career…. He could have played another six seasons at least if he hadn’t volunteered. What a shame it would be to keep him out of the Hall of Fame because of that.’”

Gallivan added that Turk Broda had once told him that he didn’t think there was ever a player in hockey who could shoot with the accuracy of Gordie Drillon. “Even if you leave him an opening [just] the size of the puck,” Broda had said, “he’d hit it every time.”

Paul Patton had written that Drillon liked to park himself in front of the net, “dig in and deflect pucks past rival netminders. Fans complained that it was a lazy way of scoring, but Drillon practiced tipping shots until he became a master at the art.”

Leaving the last word for the man himself, Gordie Drillon told Patton, “I spent 10 years playing in the slot before anyone invented a name for it.”

Hockey Hall of … Who?!?!

Well, the second round of the NHL playoffs get under way tonight.

Without the Leafs.


(But with the first Battle of Alberta in 31 years!)

It’s still a long way until we get to the Stanley Cup Final, and there will be the announcement of the NHL Award winners this year before we know the 2022 Stanley Cup champions. And the class of 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame inductions will be announced on June 27th, which should be around the same time the Final finally ends. As no class of 2021 was named, to allow for the induction of the 2020 honoured members, whose original ceremony had been cancelled due to Covid, there are a lot of new names eligible for the first time this year.

It could be a big year for Swedish players and for Vancouver Canucks, as among the likely selections new to be considered this year are Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings, twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin of the Canucks, plus goalie Roberto Luongo. And perhaps Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson will be chosen from among a list of holdovers that includes several worthy candidates who have yet to be honoured.

Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo, and Henrik Sedin are Hall of Fame hopefuls.

The first inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame were announced 77 years ago, on May 1, 1945. Only eight members were expected to be elected to that inaugural class, but a tie in the voting saw nine men named. All of those original inductees were deceased. They are (in alphabetical order):

Hobey Baker

Chuck Gardiner

Eddie Gerard

Frank McGee

Howie Morenz

Tommy Phillips

Harvey Pulford

Hod Stuart

Georges Vezina

Of those names, Vezina still resonates with hockey fans today because of the trophy for best goalie that was named in his honour. Some fans might still know of Morenz, and maybe McGee. Perhaps Hobey Baker as well, for the trophy in his name that is given to the outstanding men’s collegiate hockey player in the United States. But only fans who know the game’s history well generally recognize the others. Tommy Phillips is an historical favourite of mine, and as the captain and star of the 1907 Stanley Cup champion Kenora Thistles, he is well-covered in my upcoming book, Engraved in History, about that team.

Tommy Phillips is seated immediately to the right of the Stanley Cup.

Though I’ve been promising this for a while now, I really will be providing more details soon about the long-delayed launch of Engraved in History. (Promise!) And it was in looking up stories about Tommy Phillips recently that I stumbled across the articles that inspired this story.

Baseball elected the first members of its Hall of Fame in 1936, and opened a museum at Cooperstown in 1939. That opening seems to have inspired talk of a Hockey Hall of Fame, and as those talks gained momentum, sportswriters and former hockey stars were often asked for their opinion of who should make up the inaugural class. Many names — including several of those above — were bandied about in the early 1940s. This was mainly a Canadian pastime, but Americans offered their opinion too.

Boston Globe sports editor Jerry Nason chimed in on December 28, 1943. While admitting it was hard to select from among such great athletes as Lionel Conacher, Cyclone Taylor, Art Ross, Lester Patrick, King Clancy and more, Nason (who didn’t figure to be called upon when the time actually came, and acknowledged that he was no expert) offered three names: Morenz, Frank Nighbor, and Eddie Shore.

Frank Nighbor, Eddie Shore and Howie Morenz.

A week later, Nason’s column was all about an old-time Ottawa hockey fan living in the Boston area who’d been inspired by Nason’s list to offer his own Hall of Fame selections. Among those that Roy Welch was campaigning for were Tommy Phillips — whom he thought could skate backwards through the entire Boston Bruins team of that time — Lester Patrick, Joe Hall, and Moose Johnson. He also claimed to have known Cyclone Taylor personally. Still his picks (in reverse order) were:

Newsy Lalonde

Frank McGee

Marty McGuire

Marty McGuire?!?!

Marty McGuire, said Mr. Welch, was a star of the 1897 Ottawa Victorias. He credited McGuire with inventing both the hook check and the poke check. “For a defensemen,” said Welch, “he wasn’t big and he certainly was slow. He skated on his heels. He could go the length of the ice without picking up his feet — but you couldn’t get the puck away from him!”

Marty McGuire!?!?

Frank McGee and Newsy Lalonde.

Now, I don’t claim to know every old-time hockey player there ever was, but if a guy was good enough to be considered for the Hall of Fame, I’d like to think I’d at least have heard of him! Fortunately, someone at the Society for International Hockey Research (I’m looking at you, Ernie Fitzsimmons!) must have heard of him at some point, because SIHR has a fairly lengthy entry for McGuire.

It turns out that Marty McGuire didn’t play for the Ottawa Victorias in 1897. He played with the Ottawa Capitals, who were crushed so badly by the Montreal Victorias in a 15-2 loss in the first game of an 1897 Stanley Cup challenge that the second game was called off. But, two years later, McGuire played with Frank McGee for the Ottawa Aberdeens, a top local intermediate team. In 1899-1900 he played with McGee’s brother Jim and Hod Stuart’s brother Bruce (a Hall of Famer in his own right) with the Canadian Atlantic Railway Team in the Canadian Railway Hockey League. (This was an Ottawa-Montreal circuit that actually featured a few future stars of the game.)

A handful of articles mentioning Marty McGuire can be found when searching Ottawa newspapers from the 1890s into the early 1900s. Nothing, however, that makes him sound like he was a future Hockey Hall of Famer. Obituaries in newspapers in Ottawa and Vancouver (where he was living when he died in 1944) say nothing of his hockey career.

Marty McGuire?!?! (This is taken from his SIHR data panel.)

Still, from 1905 to 1909, Marty McGuire was playing hockey in Fort William and Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay, Ontario). If there is anything at all to Roy Welch’s claim that McGuire invented the poke check and the hook check, he may well have taught or inspired Jack Walker, who was playing hockey in Port Arthur at that time and is often credited (as is Frank Nighbor) as the originator of those moves.

Roy Welch’s thoughts in Jerry Nason’s column in Boston caught the attention of Baz O’Meara, writing in the Montreal Star. In his column on January 7, 1943, O’Meara takes Welch to task, referring to him as “one of those old timers who gets a bit misty in the minaret when he starts talking about old time stars.”

Clearly, O’Meara (who’d grown up in Ottawa in the 1890s and 1900s) had never heard of Marty McGuire either. He also dismissed Welch’s claims that Frank McGee used to practice by setting up planks of wood an inch thick and then breaking them with his shot.

“The late Frank must have done those things in secret,” says O’Meara, “because when he was an Aberdeen he was a hot shot, but not that good. When he was with Ottawa he was a very hard shot too, and very accurate, but he was no boardbreaker.”

In summary, O’Meara writes that, “The Welch findings sound to us like the maunderings of an old timer who dwells in the past.”

Whereas my story presented for you here today represents the maunderings (ramblings) of a middle-aged timer who dwells in the past!

How They “Watched” in the Old Days…

The NHL playoffs are under way. A pretty great start for the Maple Leafs … but we’ll see.

Can’t get to the game? Don’t worry. There’s an app for that!

But before there were apps for your smartphone, streaming services on your laptop or tablet, and even before there was television and radio, there was the telegraph…

Winnipeg Victorias at Montreal Victorias. Manitoba Free Press, February 15, 1896
Montreal Victorias at Winnipeg Victorias. From the Montreal Star, December 28, 1896
Winnipeg Victorias at Montreal Shamrocks. From the Montreal Star, January 29, 1901.
Montreal AAA (Montreal HC) at Winnipeg Victorias. Montreal Star, March 13, 1902.
Rat Portage Thistles at Ottawa Hockey Club. Montreal Star, March 7, 1905.
Montreal Wanderers at Kenora Thistles. Montreal Star, March 20, 1907.
Edmonton Hockey Club at Ottawa Senators.
Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, January 15 and 18, 1910.
Edmonton Hockey Club at Ottawa Senators. Manitoba Free Press, January 18, 1910.
Ottawa Senators at Quebec Bulldogs. Ottawa Citizen, February 4, 1911.
Victoria Aristocrats at Toronto Blue Shirts. Montreal Star, March 13, 1914.

And then, something new starting in 1922. Those same telegraph bulletins are now being read out loud on the radio.

Vancouver Millionaires at Toronto St. Pats. From the Vancouver Province,
the Vancouver Sun, and the Vancouver World on March 28, 1922.
Ottawa Senators at Edmonton Eskimos in Vancouver.
Edmonton Journal, March 31, 1923.
Vancouver Maroons at Montreal Canadiens. From the Montreal Star and the Calgary Herald on March 17, 1924. (Reports on subsequent games between the Calgary Tigers and the Canadiens were also aired on the radio.)

By 1931, there was the first live coast-to-coast radio play-by-play broadcasts by Foster Hewitt of the Stanley Cup Final.

Chicago Black Hawks at Montreal Canadiens. Montreal Gazette, April 14, 1931
Reports on the nationwide broadcast in the
Winnipeg Tribune and the Vancouver Sun on April 14, 1931.

And, after the first Hockey Night in Canada television broadcasts in 1952–53 (and a French-only broadcast of a few games during the Stanley Cup Final in 1953), the Stanley Cup Final was on TV in English for the first time in 1954 … joined in progress, but better than nothing!

Detroit Red Wings at Montreal Canadiens, from the Ottawa Journal on April 13, 1954.

Two Gone Too Soon

The Montreal Canadiens announced the passing of Guy Lafleur this morning. Lung cancer. Age 70. His death comes just one week after Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders. Age 65. Lung cancer. Too soon for the two of them. Too sad for their millions of fans.

Admittedly, I was too young and probably too stupid, to appreciate just how good Guy Lafleur — and the Montreal dynasty of the 1970s — was. A Toronto native, and a Leafs fan of teams that were quite good, but not nearly Canadiens good, my memories of Lafleur are mostly of jealousy.

We didn’t see a lot of Mike Bossy on Canadian TV … until the playoffs rolled around. By the time of the Islanders dynasty (a couple of years after the Maple Leafs eliminated them in the 1978 quarterfinals — before losing to Montreal — in one of the two biggest highlights of my young Leafs fandom) the Leafs were in decline, I was a little bit older, and Mike Bossy was a sight to behold. He didn’t have the obvious speed and style of Guy Lafleur, but nobody scored goals like Bossy did. Of course, by then, I was more into Wayne Gretzky, so I probably didn’t appreciate Bossy as much as I should have either.

So much has been written and said about these two superstars following their deaths. I don’t know that I have anything new to add. So, I’ll contribute something old. Both players were included in chapters of my 2010 book, Twenty Greatest Hockey Goals. It’s a lot of reading, but if you care to, or when you have the time, please check out these stories on Guy Lafleur and Mike Bossy.

Buck’s Battle Has Me Feeling Blue…

The announcement on Sunday that Buck Martinez will be stepping away from Blue Jays broadcasts for a while to seek treatment for cancer has me feeling sad and nostalgic. Nostalgic is certainly not a new feeling for me. I like history; I write about history; and I’m lucky to have had a very happy childhood to recall. Yes, I like to look back … even to the sad things that have happened in my life.

My grandfather (my father’s father) died 50 years ago this summer. For my brothers and me, now all in our mid 50s, that is almost an entire lifetime ago. Even I, as the oldest, have very few memories of him … and the things I do remember, I don’t really know if I actually remember, or just know the stories from years of re-telling them.

From what I heard from my father in later years, his parents weren’t great parents. I think they were much more in love with each other than with the idea of raising children. My father, and his sister (my Aunt Monica) certainly weren’t neglected, or abused, or anything awful. I just think they weren’t surrounded by the same obvious love my brothers and I (and I hope my cousins) were. I remember my father telling me once that the only time his father had said he was proud of him was when I was born. I’m not sure that was much of an accomplishment on my father’s part! But like many men of an older generations who weren’t great fathers, my grandfather was a very good grandfather.

Me in my days on the Blue Jays ground crew during Buck’s time playing in Toronto.

In the few short years he had with us, Poppa Moe spent lots of time with us. I remember going to a movie with him. (The Gnome-mobile. I was probably only four years old. I don’t remember anything about the plot, but I can still hear parts of the song in my head.) I know he took David and Jonathan to Toronto Marlies hockey games. (Don’t remember why I didn’t go.) And I remember the delight he took when we were riding in his car and Jonathan, who was probably only about three or four years old, would see a sign for an Esso gas station and spell out the letters forwards and backwards.



I certainly remember meals with Poppa Moe and Nanny Betty at Smitty’s Pancake House in Yorkdale Mall. Poppa Moe used to say to us, “I can’t say pancakes. I can only say pwancakes.”

And we’d always shriek back, “You just said it!”

He’d say, “No. I didn’t say pancakes. I can only say pwancakes.”

“You just said it!” we’d shriek again.

I’m pretty sure the last time I saw him — at least the last memory I have of seeing him — was at Smitty’s. It would have been 50 years ago next month, probably in mid-to-late May of 1972.

David and Poppa Moe had made a bet on the 1972 Stanley Cup Final. David picked the Boston Bruins over the New York Rangers. I seem to have a memory of watching one of the games in that series at my grandparents’ house on Glen Cedar Road near Bathurst and Eglinton … though that might be incorrect, because they were certainly living in an apartment on Walmer Road (near St. Clair and Spadina) by that summer.

Anyway, the Bruins won the Cup and David won the bet.

The prize?

One dollar!

Over dinner at Smitty’s after the series (which ended on May 11, a Thursday, so perhaps as soon as that coming weekend though maybe not until later in the month), I remember Poppa Moe asking David how he’d like to be paid. Did he want a dollar bill, or four quarters … or a bag of pennies that might have more than 100 pennies in it? David chose the bag of pennies, and Poppa Moe handed it over.

I’m sure we counted it, though perhaps not until we got home.

I don’t remember how many pennies were actually in it.

And that was, I’m pretty sure, the last time I saw him.

Soon after that, Poppa Moe was diagnosed with cancer. I used to think it was liver cancer, but it may have been lung cancer. (He was certainly a smoker.) Whichever it was, he’d probably been sick for a while already. He didn’t last long; dying on August 26, 1972. I guess, as young kids, we were spared the sight of seeing him sick.

Four generations of Zweig men circa 1964. (That’s me, The Little Prince, sitting on the table.) On the right side, the little guy in the cap is my father, seated beside my grandfather and his sister, my Aunt Monica. The guy standing at the back is family friend Louis Rosenberg. (This picture may have been taken at Maple Leaf Stadium.)

During that summer, I remember my father taking me to dinner at my grandparents’ new apartment. Nanny broiled steaks … which my father would later say was one of the few things she ever actually cooked. As I remember it, we were on our way to a Toronto Argonauts football game. (Having just checked the schedule online, I see that the Argos played their first two home games that summer on August 3 and August 16, so I’d guess August 3 … though perhaps it was in July and not actually before a football game.) I remember Nanny serving the steaks to us at the small kitchen table. Poppa Moe wasn’t there. He was in the bed room. Resting. (Dying.)

I wasn’t taken in to see him. Or if I was, I don’t remember it. My last memory of him is from the payoff dinner at Smitty’s … but maybe I just choose to remember that because it’s a nicer story.

My grandfather was a big sports fan. And that trait was certainly passed down to my father, and then to me and my brothers. (There are plenty of sports fans on my mother’s side too, so we come by it honestly!) Poppa Moe and my dad went to Argos games, and then my dad took us. Football, and the Argos, were my favourite, until the Blue Jays and baseball took over. I was on the Blue Jays ground crew from 1981 through 1985. Those were my last two years of high school and three years of university, and the “worst-to-first” years in Blue Jays history.

Buck Martinez was traded to Toronto on May 10, 1981, and got into his first game the following night. Once Bobby Cox arrived as manager in 1982, Buck became a big part of his platoon plans at catcher with Ernie Whitt and the Blue Jays finally got good!

Though Dan Diamond and Associates was mostly a hockey publisher, working on the Blue Jays 25th anniversary book was definitely my favourite project! This picture of Buck Martinez calling out Bill Caudill is one I particularly like.

Buck had two great moments during the first pennant-winning season of 1985. The first came on June 6 against the Detroit Tigers. Ernie Whitt actually caught most of that game, as Jimmy Key took a perfect game into the sixth inning, and a no-hitter into the ninth. Key wound up going 10 shutouts innings of two-hit ball. Buck came on in the 11th inning after Manny Lee ran for Whitt. He caught Gary Lavelle in the top of the 11th and Jim Acker in the 12th. In the bottom of the 12th, Buck got his first at-bat of the game with one out and George Bell on first base. He was hitting just .134 at the time, and fell behind 1-and-2 in the count before taking Aurelio Lopez (Señor Smoke) deep for a two-run homer that won the game 2-0. It was a huge, confidence-boosting victory over the 1984 World Series champs!

Five weeks later, on July 9, 1985, in Seattle, Buck was involved in one of the most remarkable defensive plays in Blue Jays history. With one out in the bottom of the third, he tagged out Phil Bradley at the plate after a Jesse Barfield throw despite the fact that the collision with Bradley tore the tendons in his right ankle and broke his leg. Dazed, Buck threw the ball away trying to make a play at third base, but was still alert enough to take a return throw and tag out Gorman Thomas at the plate to complete the first and only 9-2-7-2 double play in Blue Jays history. (If you’ve never seen it, click here!)

Buck missed the rest of the season after that injury, but managed to return for a final year in 1986 before retiring to the broadcast booth. I like to think I had a small part in his post-playing career, as I read lines with him once after a game while he was preparing to tape a radio commercial with Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek. (Buck doesn’t remember it. I asked him about it once, a few years ago, at a Blue Jays season ticket holder event.)

It’s going to be an even tougher battle this time, but here’s wishing Buck Martinez all the best for another remarkable comeback.

Six Degrees of Cyclone Taylor

Future Hockey Hall of Famer Billy Gilmour spun some interesting tales from his bygone days for the Montreal Star on June 20, 1938. An uncredited writer had caught up with the former member of the Ottawa Silver Seven on the deck of the Cunard liner Alaunia before he departed from Montreal to meet up with his daughter in France for the summer.

Gilmour spoke about some of his teammates on the 1909 Stanley Cup champion Ottawa Senators. Specifically Cyclone Taylor. “We had our fast men,” said Gilmour of the players in his heyday. “I don’t think anything you produced today was faster than Fred Taylor. He could go backwards faster than a lot of the boys could skate forward.”

“How did he compare with [Howie] Morenz?” the writer asked.

“I think he was as fast as Morenz,” said Gilmour.

When asked who, as a right winger, was the greatest left winger he ever had to cover, Gilmour answered Tommy Phillips of the Kenora Thistles. As for the toughest defensemen to get around, “there were a lot of them,” Gilmour said. “But when you go back a long time, I think Dickey Boon was as good as they came.”

Cyclone Taylor and Billy Gilmour.

More than a decade later, on February 13, 1950, Baz O’Meara of the Montreal Star was talking hockey with Cyclone Taylor. In reminiscing about the old days, Taylor discussed Billy Gilmour, whom he thought was both a very good player and a very good looking player.

“He was one of the finest looking men I ever saw on the ice,” said Taylor. “He had wonderful style, could hit a terrific body check, and because he was so elegant looking some opposing players would try to take rough liberties with him. They only did it once because Bill could handle himself in any company on any rink.”

Taylor, however, wasn’t one to glorify the stars of his day. When O’Meara assured him that, “a good man in any age would be a good man any time,” Taylor said: “I don’t know how I would have liked this game. I guess I would have done alright in it… but perhaps we undervalue some of the present day stars and overvalue some of the old ones.”

When asked if he had seen Maurice Richard play, Taylor said, “Yes, and I like him. He does things with the puck. He gives action and he takes a lot. He is a fine skater and is ideally adapted to the present type of game.”

Howie Morenz and Maurice Richard.

When Maurice Richard got older, he seemed to have a bit of a mad-on with modern hockey. Early in the 1980-81 season, Richard was in Lethbridge, Alberta to referee an oldtimers game. He spoke with local sportswriter Garry Allison, who wrote about their conversation in the Lethbridge Herald on December 2, 1980. The Rocket admitted that he didn’t get to too many NHL games anymore, and didn’t even watch them much on TV. He didn’t like the style of the modern game. “I don’t like these slap shots from centre, where they race in for the puck,” he said. “When you take the slap shot out of the game, you see more passing. You see guys carrying the puck into the other end. You see better hockey.”

Still, Richard was a fan of Mike Bossy, who was early on his his quest that season of matching the Rocket’s record of 50 goals in 50 games. Richard thought Bossy had a chance to do it, and he rated the Islanders’ sniper as a similar player to himself — not a super hockey player, but a superb goal scorer. “There were a lot better hockey players than me,” Richard admitted, “but they didn’t work as well as I did around the net.”

As Bossy closed in on the mark, the New York Islanders offered to pay Richard’s expenses if he wished to join the record watch. The Rocket said no, but wished Bossy well and reminded people that he had told the Canadiens to draft him back in 1977 after seeing the kid from his own Montreal North neighbourhood starring as a junior player.

Richard wasn’t there when Bossy scored goal #50 in game #50, but he telephoned him in the dressing room after the game. The Rocket also sent a telegram, which read, in part: “Congratulations from an old recordman to a young recordman. I always knew one day my record would be surpassed or tied [and] I had always hoped that it would be done by the player from Ahuntsic who I have admired from the start. We are proud of you here in Quebec.”

Mike Bossy and Auston Matthews.

Mike Bossy announced last October that he is battling lung cancer. He’s currently said to be resting peacefully at home, but apparently not in palliative care as was recently reported.

Like Maurice Richard, Bossy hasn’t always seemed like a fan of the game since his playing days ended, but it would appear that he did remain an astute observer. Last season, Steve Simmons wrote in the Toronto Sun in February of 2021, that Bossy was predicting Toronto’s Auston Matthews would win the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the NHL in goals.

“I do like what I’m seeing from him,” Bossy said of Matthews. “Watch him, he loves to score goals, he has that natural goal-scorer’s instinct, he has the shot, or shall I say, shots. You can’t always explain scoring. It just happens.”

Matthews did, of course, win the Richard Trophy last year and is on pace to win it again this year, having recently tied Rick Vaive’s Leafs record of 54 goals in one season. He has 47 goals in his last 48 games, and is a favourite to win the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP as well. But the playoffs will be the true test.

Bossy, it seems, would have loved to play under similar conditions to what offensive stars such as Matthews and Connor McDavid have in the NHL today. Around the same time last year that he spoke with Toronto’s Steve Simmons, Bossy told Larry Brooks of the New York Post, “you don’t see the cross-checking that we faced. You don’t see hooking and holding around the net and there’s not much hitting around the net nor in front of the net. There’s a lot of room out there that’s not talked about.”

No doubt Maurice Richard and Howie Morenz would feel the same way.

Probably Billy Gilmour and Cyclone Taylor too.

Looking At The Uke Line…

A few days ago, I got an email from my friend Tosh suggesting that perhaps a story about the Uke Line might be of interest these days. I haven’t taken a lot of requests on this web site. As I indicated in my most recent post, I don’t usually give a lot of thought to what story comes next. Something usually just pops up.

In his email, Tosh included a link to an online post from The Ukrainian Weekly that gives a pretty good history of the Uke Line. (You can read it here if you’d like.) But he wondered if I had something from my own “unique perspective” to add to the story.

Well, I did know of one thing. And sort of stumbled on to some other things too. So, here we go…

Having all played together in the minors with the Edmonton Flyers of the Western Hockey League in 1954-55, the Uke Line was formed for the 1957-58 NHL season after the Boston Bruins acquired center Bronco Horvath and left winger Johnny Bucyk in a couple of separate transactions. At training camp, the two newcomers were teamed with right winger Vic Stasiuk (who had been with the Bruins since 1955). They were a big success and by the midway point of the NHL season, the Boston trio trailed only the Montreal line of Maurice Richard, Henri Richard, and Dickie Moore as the top-scoring unit in the NHL.

On January 6, 1958, Herb Ralby of The Boston Globe wrote that back in training camp, Bruins coach (and former star) Milt Schmidt had “remarked that the new Uke Line reminded him of his Kraut Line,” Boston’s high-scoring trio of the late 1930s and 1940s. Schmidt was impressed by the way Horvath, Stasiuk, and Bucyk “were forever huddling to talk over mistakes and possible plays.”

“When Bobby (Bauer), Woody (Dumart), and I were playing on the Kraut Line,” Schmidt said, “we always huddled after rushes in practice to talk things over. We also were inseparable. We lived together, ate together, and went out together as well as playing together. The Ukes do the same thing. That’s what makes a good line.”

In The Boston Globe of January 18, 1958, Ralby wrote that Horvath, Stasiuk, and Bucyk had rented the home of former Bruins defensemen Pat Egan and were living together there. All three apparently enjoyed cooking, and they ate a “varied menu,” although it was always steaks on game day.

“We usually buy $7 worth of steaks,” explained Bucyk. “They’re really good size. Vic broils them while Bronco is the salad man. He’s good at it too.”

The Uke Line had a strong season in 1957-58, slumped a bit in 1958-59, and enjoyed their best year together in 1959-60. In fact, Bronco Horvath found himself in a tight race for the NHL scoring title with Bobby Hull that year. It went right down to the final game of the season, which pit Hull’s Chicago Black Hawks (two words in those days) against Horvath’s Bruins.

Horvath had 39 goals and 41 assists for 80 points heading into he finale at the Boston Garden on March 20, 1960. Hull had 38 goals and 41 assists for 79 points. The Golden Jet equalled Bronco with his 39th goal early in the second period, and picked up his 42nd assist and 81st point when he set up Eric Nesterenko with just 6:59 left in the game. Horvath was kept off the scoresheet all night, and when the game ended in a 5-5 tie (no overtime in those days), Hull had won the scoring title by a single point.

Some time after the season ended, Bruins radio play-by-play man Fred Cusick interviewed longtime former Bruins coach and executive Art Ross on a sports program Cusick hosted from the Clubhouse restaurant in Boston’s Kenmore Hotel. Ross, of course, is the namesake of the trophy given to the NHL scoring leader, which he and his sons, Arthur and John Ross, donated to the league after the 1947–48 season.

In earlier years, Bruins stars Cooney Weiland (1928-29), Milt Schmidt (1939-40) and Bill Cowley (1940-41) had all led the NHL in scoring. Ross told Cusick that when he had the honour of presenting his new trophy to Elmer Lach of the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum in 1948, “I said then I hoped I’d live long enough to see one of the Bruins players win it.

“This was my big year,” said Ross, “so I was really disappointed.”

Later, Phil Esposito (five times) and Bobby Orr (twice) combined to win the Art Ross Trophy for seven straight seasons from 1968-69 through 1974-75, but Ross had passed away in 1964 so he never got to see a Bruin win his trophy.

Bronco Horvath was the closest Ross got.

But was Bronco Horvath actually Ukrainian?

Before I started writing this, I was pretty sure I remembered reading somewhere that one member of the Uke Line didn’t actually have Ukrainian heritage. Wikipedia notes that Horvath was born to an ethnic Hungarian family that emigrated from Transcarpathia after the end of World War I, when it became part of Czechoslovakia. It does appear as though that region has also been part of Ukraine over the years … but I don’t know enough about the history to say that for certain.

However, Elmer Ferguson wrote in the Montreal Star on January 9, 1958, that he had received a letter from a proud Hungarian Canadian taking him to task “for referring to the Uke Line as a trio of Ukrainian boys,” on a recent Hockey Night in Canada Broadcast.

“We believe that you, Mr. Ferguson, owe Bronco Horvath an apology…” wrote George Horwath of Leron, Saskatchewan. “I have the acquaintance of several fine Canadian Ukrainians. None have intimated that they wish to be known as Hungarians, and for the same reason we Hungarians wish to keep our racial identity in tact…. [A] public retraction of your error will, I am sure, suffice the rest of us Canadian Hungarians.”

Elmer Ferguson wrote that, “Our humble apologies go forward at once, and in these, we hope, the Bruins publicity department headed by the esteemed Herb Ralby, will join us.”

Still, Bronco Horvath was inducted into the Ukrainian Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 (Bucyk was inducted in 2017; Stasiuk in 2018).

So – as I often say – “Who is knowing?”

[NOTE: It turns out that Fred Addis, president of the Society for International Hockey Research, and a native of Port Colborne, like Bronco Horvath, is knowing! Have a look at the post at the bottom of the comments below.]