Monday, May 6, 2013

Gustav Forslund

This is Gustav "Gus" Forslund. He played one season in the National Hockey League. In 1932-33 the 5'10" 150lb right winger played the whole 48 game season with the Ottawa Senators. He scored 4 goals and 13 points and then quickly disappeared from the NHL and pro hockey altogether.

But by making the NHL he became the answer to a very good trivia question. That's because Gustav Forslund became the first Swedish born player in National Hockey League history.

Now there is an asterisk attached to this story. Forslund was born in Umea, Sweden but he moved to Canada as a youngster. He grew up playing the great Canadian game on the frozen sloughs near Port Arthur,  Ontario, better known today as Thunder Bay.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Harvey Pulford

For some 15 seasons Harvey Pulford dominated the hockey scene in Ottawa. That and every other sporting scene in the area as well.

Hockey wasn't the only sport in which he was good at. Pulford was a superb athlete who excelled in several sports. He won the Eastern Canada light-heavyweight and heavyweight boxing titles. He held the title of Canada's champion in both single and double-blade paddling and won international honors in the sport of rowing.

He was a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders team that won Canadian football titles in 1898, 1899, and 1900 and also played a vital role on a superb Ottawa Capitals lacrosse team in the late 1890's. On top of that he was also a very good squash player, winning the Ottawa championship long after his hockey days in 1922-23.

But it was on the ice where Pulford was most famous. A defenseman not noted for his offense, Pulford joined Ottawa HC in 1893. Whether they were known as Ottawa or the Silver Seven or the Senators, Pulford was a mainstay for four Stanley cup championships.

Here's how the famous hockey history book The Trail of The Stanley Cup describes Pulford's play:
It was not until 1901 that Pulford attempted any of the rushing tactics featured by Mike Grant of the Victorias. Throughout his career, he favoured playing back of what would now be his blueline ad it would be a rare occasion to justify a sortie up the ice. He would steer opponents into corners or catch them with thumping body checks away from the boards. If he relieved an opponent of the puck, he would most likely hoist it to the other end of the rink with a towering backhand lift. This technique was standard with most defence players at that time but now would be called icing the puck. His style of play is reflected in his scoring. He played almost seven years before he scored a goal and only netted eight in his whole career.
Pulford was notable for his physical play and leadership. He was hockey's strongman and was fully respected by foes and friends alike. He was knocked for his skating ability because he lacked speed. but he had great balance thanks to "the thinnest blades in hockey." He was impossible to move off of the puck.

Pulford might have put down his stick in 1908 but he kept his skates handy. He became a long time referee, including in the NHA and NHL.

By 1921 Pulford took a job with a life insurance company. He stayed there until his death in 1940. He was 65 years old.

When the Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1945, Pulford was one of the original nine inductees.


Eddie Gerard

This is Eddie Gerard, one of the early greats of the game. An inaugural member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, some writers back in the day claimed he was better than Eddie Shore.

He was born February 22nd, 1890. He would grow up to be a great athlete, also starring in football, paddling, cricket, tennis and lacrosse.

But it was hockey he loved most, and he excelled at his whole life. And he did it all in his hometown of Ottawa.

Gerard played his amateur hockey with Ottawa New Edinburghs before turning professional with the NHA's Ottawa Senators in 1913-14 as a left wing. It was far from an easy decision, as Gerard had a stable job with Geodetic Survey of Canada.

But the chance to play hockey against the best in the world proved to be too strong of a calling for Gerard. Well, that and money. The Senators offered Gerard a $400 signing bonus, a significant sum in those days. Gerard's father is said to have proclaimed that the hockey team were "a bunch of damned fools" for such a signing bonus.

It paid off for the Sens though, and quite handsomely at that. Gerard had 10 assists in 1914-15,which in those days was exceptional. He played in the Stanley Cup final that season, but Ottawa lost to the Vancouver Millionaires.

In 1917-18, the NHL was formed and he served as the Senators player-coach After a losing season he gave way to Alf Smith. It was in 1917-18 that Gerard moved back to defense for good, and this is where he would prove to be so great.

In 1918-19 Gerard was outstanding this year, both offensively and defensively as Ottawa gave up the fewest goals against for the next five years, largely in part due to Gerard's outstanding play. Gerard would be named captain of the Senators and the team would go on to win the Stanley Cup - the first of four championships for Eddie.

1920-21 was one of his best seasons. Not only did he score 11 goals in 24 games, but Ottawa continued to be the best defensive team in the NHL, and Gerard's great passing and stickhandling abilities left little room for rough play.

But he ran wild in the 1921 playoffs, getting 53 minutes in penalties in 7 games to lead all performers in that dubious distinction. The Senators also won their second straight Stanley Cup that year.

Gerard had another great year in 1921-22 with 7 goals 11 assists for 18 points in 21 games. Oddlly, he would play on a Stanley Cup champion this year as well, but not with the Senators. The Toronto St. Patricks had beaten Ottawa and played Vancouver for the Cup. During one of the games Harry Cameron was injured and the St.Pats asked permission of the Patricks to use Eddie Gerard and were granted permission. He played well in that one game, and that prompted Frank Patrick to withdraw his permission for the final game. But it was too late as Toronto defeated Vancouver 5-1 to win the Cup.

Gerard was back with Ottawa for 1922-23, but misfortune struck him. He was struck in the throat by Sprague Cleghorn, damaging his vocal cords. He would only have a weak voice for the rest of his life. But he stuck it out and played 23 games for the Senators that season.

Despite injuries, he played well in the Stanley Cup classic and when the undermanned Senators won the Stanley Cup that year, Frank Patrick, president of the PCHA called them the greatest team he had ever seen.

But Gerard had enough as a player, as the asthma and the throat injury convinced him to retire.

He was a gentleman on and off the ice and played his defense position well and cleanly. He signed as an assistant coach of the Montreal Canadiens in 1923-24.  During 1924-25, Hart was both manager and coach, but resigned as coach at mid-season, leaving the coaching to Gerard. When Hart was fired at season's end, Gerard was named general manager as well.

Gerard accompanied Cecil Hart to the new Montreal Professional Hockey Club which would be named the Maroons in 1925-26. Gerard was also instrumental in signing Babe Siebert and Nels Stewart. These two led the Maroons to win the Stanley Cup in 1925-26.

Gerard went to the finals yet again in 1928, but lost to the New York Rangers in that classic series where Gerard refused to lend Alex Connell or Hugh McCormick to the Rangers to replace the injured Lorne Chabot in goal. In an unsportsmanlike gesture, Gerard chuckled as he told the Rangers 44 year old coach Lester Patrick to take to the nets himself. Patrick did, and he unthinkably beat the Maroons in that game for one of the most famous moments in Stanley Cup history. Joe Miller finished the series for the Rangers as they defeated the Maroons for the Cup.

After a last place finish in 1928-29, Gerard's Maroons finished first for the first time in 1929-30, but they lost in the playoffs. Gerard received a lucrative contract offer from the New York Americans, though the stint would prove to be unsuccessful.  He would return the Maroons and later coached the St. Louis Eagles, but his magic seemed to be lost.

Throat cancer claimed the life of Eddie Gerard in August of 1937. He was only 47 years old and all of those who knew him mourned.There had been another death that year of another great of the game, Howie Morenz, who also died too young.

For recognition of his great contributions to hockey, Gerard was one of the nine charter members elected to the brand new Hockey Hall of Fame in Kingston, which later moved to Toronto.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Pascal Leclaire

Pascal Leclaire was known for his quick reflexes and for making spectacular saves. His talent was undeniable. And had he been healthy he had a chance to be the most dynamic showman of his goaltending generation.

But first and foremost he will be remembered as a goalie who never really reached his potential due to serious injuries. Leclaire played seven seasons in the NHL before being forced out of the game due to injury.
He announced his decision during the NHL lockout of 2012. Sadly his retirement may have gone unnoticed due to the labour dispute. In some ways that was a fitting ending to an unceremonious career.

Leclaire was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the eighth pick in the 2001 NHL Draft. He was the first goaltender taken in a draft that also featured Martin Gerber, Ray Emery, Dan Blackburn and Peter Budaj.

Leclaire’s best season came in 2007-08 with the Jackets, when he played in a career high 54 games. He posted a 24-17-6 record and was second in the league with nine shutouts. But an ankle injury derailed him the following season and all the promise he showed was lost. He never played more than 35 games in any other year. Leclaire suffered from a variety of ailments through his career, including injuries to his groin, ankle, knee, hip and face

After spending the first six seasons with Columbus, Leclaire was traded to the Ottawa Senators. Instead of a finding a fresh start in the nation's capital, he found more injuries. In one game he suffered a fractured cheekbone when a puck struck him in the face while he sitting on the bench. Serious hip problems ultimately required three unsuccessful surgeries and ended his career.

In 173 NHL games, Leclaire went 61-76-15 with a 2.89 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage and 10 shutouts.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Brad Shaw

Brad Shaw was a heady, offensive defensemen who I always cheer for. He was very smart at head manning the puck and quarterbacking a power play. But he was too small to thrive in the NHL game for more than short stretches.

In Shaw's case, he played smaller than he was. 6'0" and 190lbs is at best average for a NHL defenseman, but Shaw played smaller than that, hampering his own game. He was not very strong, and did not hit with much authority. He relied on strong positional play and active stick with his good reach to play defense. Physically he would push players with his stick but never intimidated a soul.

He was far more comfortable with the puck. He was a good skater with a long stride, though he was by no means quick. He was a very intelligent player with the puck, and could read plays as they were developing. He would often advance the play with a well placed pass.

Detroit drafted Shaw in 1982. Shaw would complete his junior career with some outstanding offensive numbers with the Ottawa 67s and also was a strong member of two Canadian world juniors entries. In his last season, 1982-83, he was named as the OHL's top defenseman.

Despite his strong showing Shaw and Detroit were unable to come to a contract so the Red Wings moved him to Hartford in 1984 for next to nothing.

It took 5 seasons of apprenticing in the minor leagues, but Shaw finally made it to the NHL on a full time basis in 1989-90. His 3 goals and 35 points was the second most among "rookie" defensemen that season. Only Viacheslav Fetisov (who had even more experience than Shaw) had more.

Shaw would quietly play two more seasons in Hartford before joining the expansion Ottawa Senators via the expansion draft. Shaw would play two seasons in Ottawa, scoring a nice 11 goals and 64 points in that time, though his combined minus-88 was a little scary. Ottawa often chose to team Shaw with even more undersized Norm MacIver together. MacIver, a fan favorite, took the role of offensive catalyst and tended to wander all over the ice. Shaw was asked to play more of the conservative defensive role, on his weak side, to boot. He was game but never really thrived in the situation.

Aside from a brief re-appearance with Washington and St. Louis, Shaw rounded out his career with the Detroit Vipers in the IHL.

Shaw was an effective player who gave a full and steady effort to the best of abilities. He must be admired for that. And he used his hockey intellect to become an excellent coach, including half a season behind the bench as the head coach of the New York Islanders.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Petr Schastlivy

Petr Schastlivy grew up in a small Siberian town of Vikhorevka, playing hockey all winter long - indoor and outdoors even in -35 degree weather - and soccer all summer long. His dad was his coach, which proved to be the real secret to his success. You see, his dad played and coached an adult team. As a 12 year old young Petr was playing against 25 and 30 year old men.

Talk about a great learning curve. Soon enough Petr was starring in youth tournaments, catching scouts attention in Russia. Petr's dad allowed him to leave home early. He moved to Angarsk for six years, which proved to be the necessary steppingstone to the Russian Elite League with Torpedo Yaroslavl.

NHL scouts certainly started noticing as he performed well with Yaroslavl. The Ottawa Senators selected him in the fourth round (101st overall) of the 1998 NHL entry draft.

The highlight of Schastlivy's career came in 1999 as he was part of Russia's gold medal winning World Junior team.

The next year he crossed the Atlantic to pursue his NHL dream, but spent most of the next two seasons in the minor leagues adjusting his game and his life to the North American way.

Despite some promising skill and talent, he never did fulfill his NHL potential. Inopportune injuries played a big role in that. But he was also slight and polite, and that generally does not bode well for long term NHL employment. He had an absolute laser of a wrist shot, but he was reluctant to use it.

In 2003-04 the Ottawa Senators traded him away to Anaheim. It was not an easy decision, as the Senators had previously cut Pavol Dimetra loose prematurely, only to watch him blossom into a star. There was some fear that Schastlivy would do that, too, especially in Anaheim as it was said none other than Sergei Fedorov requested he join the team.

Yet it was just not in the cards. After quietly completing the season in California, he headed home to Russia where he continued to play for many years.

In 129 NHL games Petr Schastlivy scored 18 goals, 22 assists and 40 points. He married Latvian Olympic long jumper Ineta Radevica.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Radek Bonk

Radek Bonk was the jewel of 1994 NHL Entry Draft. The teenager from Czech Republic came to North America and dominated the IHL minor league with 42 goals and over 200 minutes and penalties. Expectations for the 6'3", 215lb man-child were through the roof.

The Ottawa Senators selected Bonk 3rd overall. He would spend the rest of his career struggling to live up to the unrealistic expectations.

Bonk's skating was a terrible detriment, and prevented him from early scoring success in the NHL. But eventually he found his niche as a strong, two way power pivot.

"Maybe the expectations were for something that is not his strength," suggested Claude Julien, Bonk's coach in Montreal. "When you draft players in the first round, all of a sudden people have a tendency to think he should be your leading scorer. You can't have 20 leading scorers, everybody's got to be really good at their jobs."

Bonk admits that the years failing to meet those lofty goals in Ottawa began to wear on him and eventually affected the way he played the game.

"You were trying to do things that normally you don't try," he said. "When you try to do something different, you don't play your role and that's when your game collapses. So I really want to concentrate on my role (in Montreal) and leave the goals to the goal-scorers."

Bonk did emerge as a regular 20 goal, 60 point threat in Ottawa. And he did play in the NHL over 1000 games (including playoffs). He scored 194 goals, 303 assists and 497 points - a pretty nice career when all was said and done.

But you definitely got the feeling Bonk was happy to leave Ottawa after 10 seasons of failing to meet expectations.

"I want to do whatever I can to help the team win," Bonk said. "We have a great group of players here and we all want to win the Cup. Everyone believes in each other and that makes a huge difference."

"I don't mind have more demands put on myself," he added. "I'm very demanding on myself. I want to win and I want to be a big part of this team being a success."

Bonk joined Montreal in 2005, then Nashville in 2007. He left for Europe in 2009, playing one season with Yaroslavl of the KHL before returning home to the Czech Republic to play several more seasons.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Patrick Lalime

Patrick Lalime sure knew how to make a first impression.

Lalime, a mid round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1993, wrote his name into the NHL record book in 1996-97 by going 16 straight games to start his career without a loss. He went 14-0-2, breaking Ken Dryden's record! He would cool off as the season went on, finishing with a 21–12–2 record, 2.94 GAA and a save percentage of .913. He would end up backing up Ken Wregget in the playoffs.

Despite Lalime's amazing start, he quickly disappeared in the 1997-98 season. A contract dispute saw him play in the minor leagues until the Penguins finally traded him away to Anaheim for Sean Pronger. Lalime's struggles continued when he failed to make the Ducks roster for the 1998-99 season.

Lalime finally resurfaced in the 1999-2000 season as he joined the Ottawa Senators.
Over the next 5 seasons Lalime would have strong regular seasons, topping the franchise all-time wins (146), shutouts (30) and games played by a goalie (283) lists. But the team's spotty playoff record smudged his legacy.

After the 2005 lockout Lalime, a licensed helicopter pilot, bounced around the NHL, playing with St. Louis, Chicago, and Buffalo.

He retired in 2011 to become a French hockey broadcaster, covering the Senators. All told he played in 444 NHL games, winning 200, losing 174 and with 32 ties/shootout losses.

Lalime, famous for his Marvin the Martian helmets, was a bit of a throw back goalie as he liked to play the stand-up style more so than the butterfly. He usually looked cool under pressure, though he had a temper as Philadelphia's Robert Esche found out when Lalime jumped him in a famous goalie fight.

Lalime received a lot of criticism for Ottawa's playoff failures, even though that was more of a reflection of the whole team than the goalie. For example, Lalime became only the 14th goalie in NHL history to record 4 shutouts in one playoff year (2002).

Lalime should be remembered as a hot and cold goalie who showed great resiliency and should have gotten more recognition as a good goalie than he did.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bill Touhey

Described as a solid checker who could chip in on offense, left winger Bill Touhey played in 273 NHL games, most notably in his hometown with the original Ottawa Senators. He 65 goals, 40 assists and 105 points in his career.

Not a whole lot is known about Touhey,'s career, but after hockey Bill remained active in Ottawa in both the hockey and business scenes.

He coached the Ottawa RCAF Flyers during the 1941-42 Allan Cup playoffs and was an original investor in the Ottawa 67s junior hockey team. A long time member of the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, he was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.

On the business side Touhey owned the Albion Hotel in Ottawa from the late '40s to the late '60s.


Hec Kilrea

"Hurricane" Hec Kilrea joined the Ottawa Senators in 1925-26 at the of age 18. The Sens were powered by the great line of Frank Nighbor, Cy Denneny and Hooley Smith, winning the Stanley Cup in 1926-27. Kilrea and fellow substitute Frank Finnigan saw little ice time.

That changed in 1927-28. Amid rumors of financial dire straits, the Ottawa Senators sold Hooley Smith to the Montreal Maroons in exchange for $22,500 and player Punch Broadbent. But the youngsters Kirea and Finnigan began seeing increasing ice time. Kilrea began showing Ottawa fans his blazing speed. He was a speed skating champion, after all.

By 1929-30 Joe Lamb took over as the top center between Kilrea and Finnigan, and the result was career years for both Lamb and Kilrea. Kilrea scored 36 goals - the 5th highest total in the NHL that season.  The biggest benefactor was the Sens, who finished just 1 point out of first place overall that season.

Ottawa's continued financial problems forced the gutting of the team, as top prospects like Syd Howe, Allen Shields and King Clancy were sold off for cash. The result was a last-place finish and Ottawa's withdrawal from the NHL for 1931-32. Kilrea was signed by Jack Adams of the Detroit Falcons while the Senators regrouped. Hec played on a line with Larry Aurie and Ebbie Goodfellow and scored 13 goals.

Ottawa returned to the NHL for 1932-33 and continued in the doldrums, so they sold Kilrea (for Bob Gracie and $10,000) to Toronto where his linemates were Bill Thoms and Buzz Boll. He was with the Maple Leafs for two years when they headed the Canadian Division and beat Boston in the 1935 playoffs. The Leafs lost the Cup to the Montreal Maroons and Kilrea was benched for the final game of the series by Conn Smythe for a drinking incident.

Jack Adams was now manager-coach of the new Detroit Red Wings, and he admired his former teammate of the Senators 1927 Cup winners and again signed Hec for his team. The Wings won two consecutive Stanley Cups with Kilrea playing with Syd Howe and Ebbie Goodfellow. He was the hero of the fifth and deciding game of the 1937 opening round against the Montreal Canadiens when he scored the winning goal at 11:49 of the third overtime period that won the series for Detroit. The Red Wings then beat the New York Rangers in another close series to win its second straight Stanley Cup. He played three more seasons with Detroit and now was showing his age.

Finally he was sent to the minors after 12 games in 1939-40 and this is where he completed his career.

After his retirement from professional hockey he became an U.S. citizen. Like many other players he enlisted for military service in World War II. He would receive the Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest military decoration of the United States Army), Purple Heart and French Croix de Guerre.

After returning to civilian life he worked with Ford in Detroit until he retired.

Born in Blackburn, Ont. June 11th, 1907, Hec Kilrea died after a long illness on October 8th, 1969


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Andreas Dackell

This is Andreas Dackell. He was a very solid defensive winger, far tougher than his size and penalty minutes suggested.

Dackell was a subtly valuable role player. He had good hockey sense and was very sound defensively. He protected pucks well, killed penalties nicely, and could always be counted on to protect a lead in the last minute of play.

Though he scored some timely and big goals, offensively Dackell never broke out. Like so many Swedes he did not shoot enough. He also lacked the speed to breakaway for loose pucks.

At 5'10" and 190lbs Dackell was not big by any stretch, and definitely not a banger and crasher. But he finished his checks and was never intimidated, not even when famously crushed by Philadelphia's Eric Lindros, who was like twice his size. Dackell was concussed and suffered facial cuts, but he returned with enthusiasm.

Dackell left his native Brynas of the SEL to join Ottawa in 1996. For the next 5 years he was a perfect third line right winger, chipping in his usual 15 goals and 35 points.

In 2001 he joined the Montreal Canadiens, though his game slowly deteriorated in three seasons with the Habs. In 2004 he returned to Brynas where he continued to play until 2009.

Andreas Dackell quietly played in 613 NHL contests, scoring 91 goals and 159 assists for 250 career points. He added another 5 goals and 10 points in 44 playoff games.

Dackell was also part of Sweden's gold medal winning 1994 Olympic team.


Magnus Arvedson

Magnus Arvedson was a strong defensive winger. A Selke Trophy runner-up in just his second season, Arvedson had his best season in 1998-99 playing on the top line with Marian Hossa and Radek Bonk.

Arvedson was never able to fulfill his true potential in the NHL. A big, strong winger, he could had the strength, speed and smarts to handle almost any checking assignment. He also had the ability to contribute offensively, possessing a heavy shot and good vision. But a terrible back injury plagued him over the years, and eventually forced him into retirement by 2004.

Arvedson was definitely a late bloomer. He became a regular in the Swedish Elite League at the age of 23 (1993) and only then caught the attention of NHL scouts. At the age of 25 the Ottawa Senators took a flyer on him, drafting in 119th overall in 1997, thanks to a strong showing at that year's World Championships. Magnus helped Sweden capture the silver medal.

He stepped immediately into the Senators' lineup. He was initially used in a third line checking role but was increasingly moved up to more offensive lines. By his second season he was a regular on the top line, cashing in his best performance - 21 goals, 47 points and a +33 rating. He narrowly missed out on the Selke Trophy to Dallas' Jere Lehtinen.

Injuries would seriously plague Arvedson over the next couple of years. The Senators had the tough decision to let him walk as an unrestricted free agent in 2003. The Vancouver Canucks took a chance on the injury prone forward.

Arvedson provided a strong upgrade on Vancouver's wings. Playing alongside Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Arvedson was on a hot scoring streak when the injury bug appeared again. This time Arvedson blew out his knee, costing him not only the rest of the season, but his career.

Arvedson rehabbed his knee as much as possible, but prior to the 2004-05 season he announced his retirement. In 434 career NHL games he scored 100 goals and 225 points. In addition to the aforementioned 1997 World Championship team, Arvedson also represented his native Sweden at the 2002 Olympic Games.

In retirement he returned to Sweden and took up coaching.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kevin MacDonald

Kevin MacDonald had to fight and fight and fight for just one chance at the NHL. Literally.

MacDonald was a rugged, stay at home defenseman who played 4 seasons (1983-87) with the OHL's Peterborough Petes. Having not been drafted he attended St. Thomas University as a 20 year old and impressed minor league scouts well enough to earn a try out with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. After just one year of schooling Kevin quit school to chase his dream of playing professional hockey.

Kevin was a fringe defenseman at the IHL level but a top pugilist. He racked up penalty minutes like there was no tomorrow! He was a spirited guy who gave it his all on the ice. Unfortunately he didn't have a whole lot to offer other than his physical, bruising play.

His spirited play did not go unnotice. By 1990 the Edmonton Oilers signed Kevin. The Oilers were look for a minor league tough guy and had no plans for Kevin at the big club, so that never worked out. But he continued to scratch and claw and fight his way at the IHL level, never giving up his dream of making it to the NHL.

As the NHL began expanding in the 1990s, Kevin's hopes were renewed that maybe, just maybe, some team would take a chance on him. That chance was finally granted in the form of an early Christmas gift. On December 22, 1993 the Ottawa Senators signed Kevin to a contract for the remainder of the year.

MacDonald was placed in the minors, not surprisingly. He earned 245 PIM in just 40 games with the PEI Senators. The Sens of course were awful that year, and by the end of the year were giving anyone their protected list a look-see. That included Kevin. He was called up late in the year and appeared in his lone NHL game.

Kevin was released at the end of the year and no other NHL team expressed interest. But Kevin wouldn't give up. He returned to the IHL and took his pugilism to a new level. He led the IHL with a career high 390 PIMs. MacDonald would continue to bounce around the minor leagues for the next few years, never earning another shot at the NHL.

Kevin wasn't a very good hockey player to be honest. There's guys in your recreational leagues that are better. But Kevin was one tough SOB who knew that the only way he could make a living as a professional hockey player was to fight. He did just that, and even was rewarded with fulfilling his dream of playing in the NHL, albeit just for one game.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bruce Stuart

Bruce Stuart, brother of the more famous Hod Stuart, was a fine hockey player in the early 20th century.

He originally joined the Ottawa Senators for the 1898-99 season, when he scored 12 goals in 6 games. After a season with the Quebec Bulldogs, he rejoined Ottawa for the 1901-02 schedule. Stuart spent the next five years playing in the International League with teams such as Houghton, Pittsburgh and Portage Lake, before moving to the Montreal Wanderers. He assisted Montreal to the Stanley Cup in 1907-08 and then rejoined the Senators as their captain.

Bruce and the Senators immediately recaptured the Cup in 1908-09. After losing it the following season, Ottawas again crowned champion in 1911. Participating in three Stanley Cup victories, Stuart alone scored 17 goals in seven games. His best single game record against Quebec when he netted 6 tallies.

Stuart retired after the end of the 1911-12 season and will be remembered as an excellent all-around forward. Stuart was elected in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. He had been battling health problems late in life, and died several weeks after his induction. He was 80.

For many years (1906 through 1952) he had operated a famous shoe store in his name on Bank Street in Ottawa, earning high praise in the business community. He was also a noted golfer and curler.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Frank Nighbor

"The Flying Dutchman." "The Pembroke Peach." Frank Nighbor had many nicknames. That was because he was one of the most creative geniuses ever to play the game.

Newspaper archives heap generous adjectives on Nighbor. "An effortless skater," he was "a marvel of physical endurance" who often played the entire game without a rest. He was "a crafty and unselfish playmaker" (when he retired he was the NHL's all time leader in assists) and also, when needed, "a flashy goal scorer." With his famed poke check he embraced the defensive side of the game with equal zeal. "One of the brainy greats of the game" was quite possibly the most complete and "peerless" player in hockey in his era. The great Howie Morenz even once said, "I won the (Hart Trophy) but Nighbor is the greatest player in hockey."

Here's how Frank Selke described Nighbor in the Montreal Gazette in 1962:

With all due respect to the many wonderful players who have come and gone since 1900, there are few who could be rated above Frank Nighbor. Someone once called him the "peerless centre," and I can think of no label which would have been more apt. We always felt he could have played a complete game of hockey in formal attire without even putting a wrinkle in his suit. He was a leading scorer, an expert passer and a playmaker; and no rival forward could come close to him in defensive skill. Along with Jack Walker he developed the poke-check to such an extent that his contemporaries were forced to revamp completely their style of play in order to cope with him.

Born in Pembroke, Ontario, Nighbor started his professional hockey career with the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association (predecessor to the NHL). He would join the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey League for a couple of seasons, getting his first taste of champaign from Lord Stanley's mug in 1915. The next season he returned home (partly to tend to his ailing mother), joining the Ottawa Senators. He would remain an integral part of the Senators until 1928. He played one final season with Toronto in 1929.

Nighbor is best known as an Ottawa Senator. He played on Stanley Cup championship teams in 1920, 1921, 1923, and 1927. He was also the initial winner of two of the games greatest trophies: The Hart (1924) for Most Valuable Player; and the Lady Byng (1925 and 1926) for gentlemanly play and sportsmanship.

Nighbor was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1945. He concentrated on his insurance business until retiring in 1961. He died of cancer in Pembroke in 1966.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tony Cimellaro

Tony Cimellaro is a veteran of 2 NHL games, something which has carried him far in his interesting hockey career.

The Kingston Ontario native was signed as a free agent by the Ottawa Senators after playing as an overaged junior in the OHL. Ottawa, just granted an expansion franchise were looking for cheap players to fill up their minor league system with for its first couple of seasons.

Cimellaro, who struggled offensively in junior hockey, actually had a decent first professional season with the Sens' affiliate in New Haven, scoring 18 goals and 34 points. The Senators endured one of the worst seasons in NHL history and recalled many of its minor leaguers including Cimellaro. He dressed for 2 games, registering 4 shots on goal and +/- rating of -2. Ta-dum! That was it! That was Tony Cimellaro's NHL experience.

Tony struggled the following season with the Sens farm team, now located in Summerside PEI. The Senators released the 5'11" 180lb center. Cimellaro wouldn't let his love of hockey die there though. He took his act overseas, armed with 2 games of NHL experience on his resume, and started to travel the world with hockey being his ticket. He played in Britain, Italy, Denmark and Germany. For a struggling Canadian hockey player with few options back home, Cimellaro has made the most of his hockey resume to travel the world, experience different cultures, and enjoy life.


Monday, January 10, 2011

D'Arcy Coulson

Meet D'Arcy Coulson - hockey's first millionaire hockey player. Granted Coulson did not earn his millions from playing hockey. He was the son of an Ottawa based millionaire, making a fortune in the hotel industry and owned a golf club..

Coulson played hockey recreationally in the Ottawa Senior leagues where he earned a reputation as one of the nastiest and dirtiest players. A stay-at-home defenseman, Coulson was invited to the Philadelphia Quakers camp in 1930 and made the team. He played in 28 games, but scored no points. He did tally a surprisingly high 103 PIM that season though!

The Quakers franchise bit the dust with the Great Depression setting in. The players were dispersed and Coulson was claimed by the Montreal Canadiens. However Coulson never reported to Montreal, and did not play anywhere competitively for the next three years.

He did resurface in the Ottawa Senior leagues by mid-decade. By then it was believed he had joined his dad in the hotel business.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Neil Brady

This is Neil Brady, the man who scored the first goal in the history of the new Ottawa Senators way back on the opening night of the 1992-93 season.

He would only score six more goals that season. That goal will forever be the most notable moment in the once very promising career of Neil Brady.

Born in Montreal but raised in Calgary, Brady was a quick sensation with the Medicine Hat Tigers upon his arrival in 1985-86 season. With his strapping size and playmaking ability, the big center instantly clicked with left winger Mark Pederson to form a dangerous duo. Brady put up 81 points in 72 rookie games, and then added a strong playoff performance with 20 points in 21 games

The strong campaign combined with his size and promise skyrocketed him up the NHL scouts draft rankings. He was almost an after-thought heading into the season, but when all was said and done the New Jersey Devils made Brady the 3rd overall draft pick in the 1986 draft, taking him ahead of Vincent Damphousse, Brian Leetch and Craig Janney.

Brady was returned to junior, but a funny thing happened to Brady. Even though Pederson returned, too, and Trevor Linden and Rob Dimaio soon arrived, Brady's offense mysteriously disappeared. He started out well with enough with 83 points in 57 games, but he all but disappeared in the Tigers' run to the Memorial Cup with just 1 goal and 4 assists in 18 games.

Things did not get any better in 1987-88 when Brady could only muster 51 points in 61 regular season games and then just 3 lonely assists in 15 playoff contests. Apparently he was very distracted during this season, as his mother was dying from cancer. She died as the Tigers' were capturing their second consecutive Memorial Cup championship.

Brady's game had gone from top prospect to deep suspect before he even turned pro. The Devils had hoped he would be able to regain his game as he put his mother's plight behind him.

Brady had one major flaw - he lacked speed in serious regard. He had the size and he had wonderful hands to be a good playmaking pivot, but he simply lacked any jump in his game to get anywhere. To be successful, he needed to embrace the power forward role, but lacking the speed to get that extra step on the defenseman to cut towards the net, he was more often than not rendered ineffective.

New Jersey tried developing Brady in their farm system. They experimented with him on the wing where he could bring a playmaker's touch to the wing. He put together a couple of strong AHL seasons, but he never could catch on in the NHL. He never embraced the bang and crash role he was asked to adopt. He simply did not have the nasty temperament to bull his way through the opposition. The pro coaches saw this big man with nice hands and wanted him to retrieve loose pucks and set up the offense. But too often Brady did nothing with his size and was often invisible on the ice.

The unrealistic expectations of the high draft selection certainly did not help Brady, as he failed to live up to expectations. The Devils were happy to move Brady to the expansion team in Ottawa in the summer of 1992.

That first year Ottawa Senators team was down right brutal. For all the expansion fees they had to pay they got table scraps for talent. Brady played in 55 games that season, by far a career high. He scored 7 goals and 24 points but clearly he was a journeyman forward at best. It was unlikely he would be able to crack most established rosters.

The Senators did not renew Brady's contract after one season. The Dallas Stars took a chance by signing him as a free agent. Aside from 5 NHL games, he would quietly contribute to the Stars farm team until the end of the decade, never to be seen in the NHL again.

Brady finished his NHL career with 89 career games, scoring 9 goals, 22 assists and 31 points.

Interestingly, Brady was not the only member of the very strong 1980s Medicine Hat teams that could not translate junior success into NHL stardom. Mark Pederson, Scott McCrady, and Wayne McBean were also integral parts of the Tigers' success but never found regular NHL employment.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ottawa Hockey Legends

Ottawa Senators - Modern
Craig Billington
Alexander Daigle

Steve Duchesne

Darcy Loewen
Norm MacIver
Brad Marsh

Ron Tugnutt  
Ottawa Senators - Original
Clint Benedict
Bill Beveridge
Punch Broadbent
Morley Bruce

Sprague Cleghorn
Alec Connell
Jack Darragh
Cy Denneny

Frank Finnigan
Leth Graham

Harry Helman

Len Grosvenor

Dubbie Kerr
Fred Lake
Percy Lesueur  
Jack Mackell

Frank McGee

Bruce Ridpath
Hamby Shore
Cyclone Taylor
Marty Walsh
Weldy Young


Monday, April 26, 2010

Frank McGee

Frank McGee's accomplishments are astounding, considering his best years with Ottawa's Silver Seven came after he lost sight in one eye and before the tender age of twenty-three. “One-Eyed” McGee's record of fourteen goals in one Stanley Cup match still stands 105 years later.

Born to a prominent Ottawa family, Frank's uncle was Thomas D'Arcy McGee (a Father of the Confederation) and his father Joseph was Clerk of the Privy Council. Frank excelled at sports, playing lacrosse and rugby as well as hockey. As half-back for Ottawa City rugby team, he helped win the Canadian championship in 1898.

Unfortunately, in 1900 Frank's career appeared at an abrupt end after a nasty blow to the left eye by an opponent's stick during a charity match in Hawkesbury, Ontario left him blind in that eye. Frank didn't remain out of the game for long, however, taking up the one position in which perfect vision wasn't necessary: he became a referee.

Being a referee only made him miss playing more, so despite the risks, he joined the Ottawa Senators in 1903. Despite the rough-sounding nickname, “One-Eyed” McGee became known for his immaculately clean and pressed uniform and play-making.

At only 5'6,” he was one of the smallest players in a brutal game. Size never mattered though, as Frank scored two goals in his first game to help Ottawa win. Soon thereafter, he was averaging three goals (or more) a game, and his 63 goals in 22 Cup games stands as a pre-NHL era record. His most notable accomplishment, a record fourteen goals in a single Cup game came on January 16, 1905 against the Dawson City Nuggets. Eight of those goals were scored at nearly a goal-a-minute pace.

McGee's remarkable skill and accuracy helped lead Ottawa to three consecutive Stanley Cup championship years from 1903 to 1906, defeating the Rat Portage Thistles, Winnipeg Rowing Club, Toronto Marlboros, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Montreal Wanderers along the way. He wasn't the only star of the club, merely its brightest, playing alongside fellow future Hall of Famers Alf Smith, Harry Westwick, Billy Gilmour and Tommy Smith.

McGee had somewhat of a reputation as a practical joker: when the team was invited to dine with Governor General Lord Minto [Elliot] at Government House, other team members worried about their ignorance of Ottawa society etiquette. McGee, being from Ottawa high society, told them not to worry, to imitate everything he did. McGee then proceeded to pick up his finger bowl and slurp from it. Innocently, his teammates copied him. It is reported that even the Governor decided to drink from his finger bowl!

After Ottawa lost the Cup to the Montreal Wanderers in 1906, McGee retired at age twenty-three. Apparently, his job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs prevented him from travelling with the team much.

When World War I began, McGee somehow managed to enlist in the army in 1915, despite his bad eye. The story is that McGee passed the physical by simply switching the hand covering his eye, and not the eye. Since Frank's disability was part of his legend, the examining doctor couldn't quite play along; on McGee's physical, the doctor simply wrote “good” for vision in the right eye and the blank for the left eye was left empty. He became Lieutenant Frank McGee, of the 43rd Regiment (Duke of Cornwall’s Own Rifles) of the 21st Infantry Battalion in early 1915. In December of that year, he was travelling in an armoured car in Belgium, hit by a shell and suffered a knee injury. He recuperated in England and was offered a desk job at Le Havre, France, which he refused. On September 16, 1916, Lt. McGee was killed in action at Courcelette, one of 624,000 Allied troops who gave their lives during the Battle of the Somme.

When the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted its first members in 1946, Frank “One-Eyed” McGee was one of them. In 1966, he was also inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. A fitting tribute to not only a hockey hero, but also a national hero.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Morley Bruce

Morley Bruce, born in North Gower, was another hometown hero amongst the original Ottawa Senators.

Bruce, a center, had starred as a junior with New Edinburgh before joining the Senators for the NHL's inaugural season in 1917-18. He was identified as one of the best players to come out of the Ottawa City League. His brother Bower was also a noted city league star, although he would ultimately take a civil servant's job and pass on any hockey opportunities.

Bruce's season was interrupted just 7 scoreless games in, as he signed up for service with the army in World War I. He would miss the entire 1918-19 season too.

He returned from military duty and rejoined the Sens in 1919. He played the next three seasons with the Senators, including in 1920-21 when the Senators won the Stanley Cup. He seems to have left the game after the 1921-22 season.

I do not know a whole lot about what type of hockey player Morley Bruce was, although his statistics suggest he was a reservist who was sent in on spot duty to allow the stars to rest. One newspaper source suggested he was specifically Frank Nighbor's sub. He played in 71 career NHL games, scoring 8 goals and 11 points. He also participated in 3 Stanley Cup games.

But I do know he left the ice and jumped into the fire, serving as an Ottawa fireman until 1953. For 25 of those years he was the fire department's assistant secretary, originally serving in that capacity to another hockey star-turned-fireman, Alex Connell. Bruce, by then an avid curler and lawn bowler, later served with the fire prevention bureau in the last 7 years with the force. Upon retirement from the department he took a clerk's job at Higman's Hardware Store on Wellington Street until his death.

He died in 1959, at the age of 65, "after a brief illness." His wife, Ida, lived on until 1996, dying at the age of 98! Both rest at Norway Bay Cemetary in Quebec.


Letham Graham

Local boy Letham "Leth" Graham was an Ottawa hockey star through the 1910s and early 1920s.

Graham originally starred with the Ottawa Senators before the NHL even existed. Graham played the 1913-14 and 1914-15 seasons with the Sens in the NHA - National Hockey Association, fore-runner to the NHL.

Graham's hockey statistics are sketchy at best, making it hard to follow his hockey career. After the 1915 season he does not surfaced again until 1920-21, where he helped the NHL Ottawa Senators win the Stanley Cup.

Graham's absence is unknown to me. Service in World War I is a definite possibility, with one source hinting at four years of service. Also, newspaper archives suggest Graham and friend Howard Boorne were seriously hurt when their tandem bicycle they were riding was hit by an automobile in 1915.

Graham, who was also a top lacrosse player in Ottawa, appears to have remained active with the Senators until 1926, although he played very sparingly. Including a five game appearance with the NHL Hamilton Tigers, Graham's six season NHL career consisted of just 27 games. Perhaps this was because of conflicting schedules with his day job with the Ottawa Electric Company. He scored just 3 goals, 2 of which came in his only game of the 1921-22 season.


Harry Helman

Described as "a good forward and very speedy," Harry Helman has become a forgotten member of the original Ottawa Senators team.

The 5'6" 145lb right winger played with the Sens for three NHL seasons, including in 1922-23 when the local boy helped them win the Stanley Cup.

That season was Helman's only full season in the NHL, though he was used sparingly. He played in 24 games, but failed to register a single point. He did pick up 5 minutes in penalties. In the Stanley Cup playoffs he has been credited for two more games played, but again went pointless. His post-season was cut short when he suffered a serious cut to his face courtesy of a teammate's skate blade during a practice.

Helman returned to the Sens the following season, scoring what would prove to be his only NHL goal. It was his only point in 19 games that season.

A veteran of World War I and an established Ottawa hockey sensation prior to joining the NHL Senators, Helman returned for just one game in the 1924-25 season. He sat out the entire 1925-26 season from big time hockey, resurfacing in Saskatoon where he played for the Shieks of the Prairie Hockey League for one season.

I know very little about Helman's life after hockey, although he appeared to return to Ottawa shortly after his season in Saskatoon. I'd love to hear from you if you do have any clues or knowledge.

Helman died in 1971. He was 76 years old.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Len Grosvenor

One of the least known Ottawa Senators players of the original era is hometown boy Len Grosvenor.

Grosvenor was born in Ottawa on July 21st, 1905 and lived there most of his life. He was quite an athlete, starring in football and baseball. But hockey was where his future lay, with the NHL's home team.

As a hockey player he played in 144 NHL games from 1927 through 1933, all but 16 of which were with Ottawa (12 with NY Americans and 4 with Montreal Canadiens). Unfortunately for Grosvenor his arrival with the Sens came just after the team's Stanley Cup dynasty of the early 1920s.

This forward quietly scored 9 goals and 20 points in his career. He was used as a substitute player. Way back teams used their best players for most of the game, only spelling off tired or injured players when need be with the designated sitters. It appears Grosvenor never really shook this label.

His most noteworthy inclusion in the newspaper archives appears to surround his star status as a pitcher in city baseball leagues and for an automobile accident involving another car and an old-time street car. Grosvenor was hospitalized with a crushed arm.

After his NHL career was over his career gets a little spotty. It appears he may have played in Quebec Beavers of the Can-Am League although stats do not seem to exist for this.

He definitely spent some time coaching in Noranda in northern Quebec. One source suggests Grosvenor returned to Ottawa at some point to take a civil servant's job, while another suggests he and his family remained in Noranda for many years. Another source suggested his non-hockey life was spent working on the railroads. Obviously this remains a mystery to us for now.

Len Grosvenor died in Ottawa on March 15th, 1981. His obituary suggests he died suddenly, but does not mention how. It does mention in lieu of flowers donations should have been made to the Ontario Heart Foundation.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jack MacKell

Jack MacKell was a 5'7" 150lb swingman, playing both on right wing and right defense. He was a rover in his youth and early days.

Born in Ottawa in 1894, much of his hockey career either pre-dated the National Hockey League or was interrupted by his service in the First World War. He did play two seasons in the NHL, both times winning the Stanley Cup with his hometown Ottawa Senators (1920 and 1921).

He retired and moved to Montreal where he excelled in a career with lithography. He also raised a family, including son Fleming who went on to enjoy a 13 year career in the NHL with Boston and Toronto. Jack also had two daughters, Joanne and Maureen.

Jack MacKell died of a heart attack on November 25th, 1961. Always a sports fan, he was watching a football game at the time of his death.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cy Denneny

Who is the greatest goal scorer of all time? A very debatable question with many good answers and arguments.

One argument is the highest goals-per-game average over a players entire career. That title is held by Mike Bossy at 0.762 goals per game. Who is second? Not Mario Lemieux, not Wayne Gretzky, nor Brett Hull. Not even early superstar Joe Malone.

Another pioneer of hockey holds down second place: Cy Denneny.

Denneny scored 246 times in 326 games in the NHL, thus giving him a .755 goals per game average. He also has the second highest goals per game average over one single season, with 36 goals in 22 games in 1917-18, for an amazing 1.64 GPG. He also is one of only 7 players to record 6 or more goals in a single NHL game. That feat has only been accomplished twice in modern times.

The Cornwall Colt as he was affectionately nicknamed began his professional career in 1914 with the Toronto Shamrocks of the National Hockey Association, enjoying two seasons there before joining the Ottawa Senators of the NHA in 1916. He stayed with the Senators as they became part of the NHL. He was part of a powerhouse Sens team that won the Stanley Cup four times in the NHL's early days.

At the conclusion of the 1928 season, Denneny took an offer to join the Boston Bruins as a player, coach and assistant manager. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup that season, giving Cy his 5th taste of champagne from Lord Stanley's Mug.

Though best remembered as a sniper, Denneny was also quite the physical player, not afraid to mix things up with the opposition. Short and stocky, he was said to be an average skater at best, but it didn't seem to hold him back any.

Denneny retired as a player after the one year in Boston. He retired as the NHL's all time leading goal scorer at 246, which wasn't matched until 1934 by Howie Morenz. He would go on to be a successful coach and referee in both the NHL and junior hockey.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959, Denneny was named as the 62nd best player of all time by The Hockey News in 1998.

Cy Denneny died in Ottawa, in September, 1970.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weldy Young

The Ottawa area was one of the true hot spots of hockey in the 1800s and early 1900s. Powerful teams and legendary players brought multiple Stanley Cups to Canada's capital city.

The very first Ottawa hockey legend likely was Weldon "Weldy" Young. He and brother George were original members of the Ottawa hockey team in 1889.

Young was described as "Ottawa's only world-calibre hockey player in the early 1890s," Young was said to be a terrific skater and puck rusher. But he was also zestful for the physical game, hitting opponents with passion.

Though he was a well respected hockeyist, he was not well liked. He was said to be a mean-spirited grump "with a permanent scowl on his face." Still, he was named as the Team Captain and certainly provided color.

For all his success in Ottawa, history seems to best remember Weldy Young for almost being Ottawa's opponent. After the turn of the 20th century Young was caught up in the Klondike gold rush, investing heavily in claims in the Yukon. He was recruited by the Dawson City team that challenged Ottawa for the Stanley Cup in 1905.

Young agreed to play, but was unable to participate. He held down a job as civil servant, and at the time championship a federal election was being held. Young had to oversee the election.

By the end of the decade Young, like so many other fortune seekers, fled the Klondike. He returned to Ontario where he invested in the silver mines of the Haileybury area, while also taking up refereeing. He later became involved with the management of the Haileybury hockey team that merged with the NHA.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Norm MacIver

Most people have a soft spot for huge underdogs. Maybe that's why I cheered on Norm MacIver so much. At 5'11" and 180lbs MacIver was a small defenseman by NHL standards, but he often carried a big load on his shoulders.

He was a fantastic catalyst from the blue line, generating offense with strong clearing passes, by rushing the puck out of the zone or by jumping into the zone for the extra attacker. He handled prime minutes quarterbacking the power play. He was a superb puckhandler and a quick skater who used his wits and intelligence to survive in the NHL.

The problem was he was not physically able to withstand the rigours of the NHL. That is why he was ignored at the NHL draft. He survived trades, demotions and injuries, reappearing with a team equally as bad as the previous one. He would wear down as the season progressed, and fizzled out before crunch time.

Give the Rangers credit - after he graduated with a communications degree in 1986 they signed MacIver out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he was an all star and finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as best player in US College hockey. Two years later he was off to Hartford, then Edmonton the year after that. He would earn AHL defenseman of the year status in 1991, finally forcing the NHL to give him a look-see.

The Oilers called him up for their lengthy playoff run in 1991 and played him regularly in 1991-92. He showed he could play in the league by scoring 8 goals and 47 points in a total of 79 games in Edmonton.

The Oilers left MacIver unprotected for the 1992 NHL expansion draft, and the Ottawa Senators were quick to grab him. He became a workhorse for the Senators, who at that time were one of the worst teams in NHL history. MacIver gave it everything he had, and on many nights was the most noticable Senator on the ice for both his effort and creativity. He actually led the Sens in scoring in their debut season of 1992-93 with 17 goals and 46 assists for 63 points in 80 games.

MacIver's magical season came to a dramatic end, though. While representing Canada at the World Championships, MacIver was crunched with a body check and immediately had breathing problems. Doctors discovered his heart was bruised.

He made a full recovery, but he could not reach the heights of his previous campaign in year two in Ottawa. The constant losing must have zapped the energy and drive out of all those players. Even MacIver looked worn down at times.

The Sens moved MacIver to Pittsburgh in 1995. He subsequently jumped around with Pittsburgh, Winnipeg/Phoenix and the minor leagues before hanging up the skates in 1999. The vastly underrated MacIver finished his career with 500 games played, 55 goals, 230 assists and 285 points. Not bad for a undersized defenseman nobody wanted in the first place.

MacIver stayed in the game after retiring, first coaching in the minor leagues and with Boston then serving as Chicago's director of player development.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Alexandre Daigle

Alexandre Daigle was a highly touted 1st overall draft pick that would become a much celebrated bust.

Daigle was selected by the Ottawa Senators in their second stab at the draft table. The Victoriaville Tigres center combined blazing speed with soft hands and spectacular point totals to quickly be dubbed as not only the future of the Ottawa Senators, but of the NHL. He was even compared to the incomparable Mario Lemieux.

Daigle took great pride in being drafted first overall, surpassing the likes of Chris Pronger and Paul Kariya. "Nobody remembers number 2" was his famous quote at the time. How wrong he proved that to be!

On top of all this perhaps unrealistic pressure being thrust upon the youngster was a much discussed five-year, $12.25- million deal he signed after being drafted. It was a ridiculously high contract that would become the driving force behind a rookie salary cap agreed to shortly afterwards by the NHL and the Players Association.

Daigle showed brief glimpses of brilliance in his first three years, but they were few and far between. As the Senators struggled as perhaps the worst team in NHL history, the pressure never let up on the young Daigle. To make matters worse many were starting to question Daigle's heart.

"The guy has just never lived up to his potential. He refuses to use his biggest asset, which is his speed. I just don't think anybody in the league is going to want a guy who really isn't interested in playing hockey." said one NHL official.

Daigle was traded to Philadelphia early in 1998 in exchange for Vinnie Prospal and another first round bust in Pat Falloon. He lasted about a year in Philly after showing up for training camp out of shape. He was traded to Tampa Bay via Edmonton for the remainder of the 98-99 season. In 1999-2000 he played with the New York Rangers after accepting a $1 million pay cut. However Daigle's play continued to be lethargic as he ended up playing out the season in the minor leagues.

No contract offers were coming in for Daigle's services in the year 2000. There was some rumors about interest coming out of both Edmonton and Montreal, but neither team made a move.

Daigle is one of hockey's pretty boys, and he likes to hang out in the bright lights of Hollywood. In fact he was briefly linked as both Sheryl Crow's and Pamela Anderson's love interest. Daigle said he'd take the 2000-01 season off from hockey in order to pursue another passion in his life - acting.

"I know the guy wants to pursue an acting career, but he's a pretty bad actor on the ice. It's hard to hide that. He's got good speed, but he lacks the skills necessary to be a superstar. It's a tough fall to watch." said the same unnamed executive.

There was an article during the 2000-2001 season that showed Daigle still played the game - as a defenseman in a Los Angeles beer league.

Daigle did make a NHL come back. After showing little in 2002-03 with Pittsburgh, Daigle actually turned in a commendable season with Minnesota in 2003-04. With Wild coach Jacques Lemaire simplifying Daigle's game, he seemed re-invigorated and passionate about the game again. He scored 21 goals and 51 points, and even was showing signs of transforming himself into an effective support player, using his speed to forecheck and backcheck.

The success of that season did not carry over into the following season. He struggled, scoring just 5 goals in 46 games. He would finish the season in the minor leagues, forever ending his NHL days.

Daigle headed to Europe, playing in Switzerland with the legendary Davos team.

"A lot of teams wanted nothing to do with me for good or bad reasons," Daigle said. "It was tough, but that's the way it was."

Nobody questions his talent," John Muckler, his coach in New York, said. "You can question other things, but you can't question his talent."


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fred Lake

Despite losing an eye in the rough International League in northern Michigan, Fred Lake of Moosomin, Saskatchewan played nine years as a professional hockey player.

Lake's most prominent years came alongside defense partner Hamby Shore. The two first teamed up in Winnipeg in the Manitoba Hockey League before spending 4 years together in Ottawa. Standing tall before goalie Percy Lesueur, the duo of Lake and Shore helped the Senators capture the 1909 and 1911 Stanley Cup!

In addition to be a hockey star, Fred Lake was an astute businessman in his days in Ottawa. But perhaps a business deal went horribly wrong, as Lake was found dead in 1937 under very suspicious circumstances.

According to ace hockey researcher James Milks at his excellent website

"Fred Lake's body was found under suspicious circumstances on November 30, 1937.

"Lake's body was found in an automobile on a deserted farm near Connaught park Jockey Club in Aylmer, Quebec. He had been dead for 36 to 48 hours, so his exact date of death is unsure, but either the 27th or 28th of November.

"An extension had been placed on the exhaust pipe and twisted into the interior of the car. Lake's head was resting on two small pillows, his body stretched out on the seat. The mystery deepened with the discovery of two sets of footsteps in the frozen snow leading away from the car. An auto crank was also found on the ground near the back wheels."


Hamby Shore

Samuel Hamilton Shore, known forever by his moniker Hamby, was born to play hockey. And with a few seasons' exceptions spent in Winnipeg, Shore would play in his hometown of Ottawa with the original Senators.

Shore, no relation to Eddie Shore who would later dominate the NHL, was versatile player, playing both wing and defense. With his steady influence the Senators won the Stanley Cup two times, in 1905 and 1911.

Earlier in his career Shore was a scoring forward, registering 114 goals in 186 career games. Later in his career he played on the blue line, most often with Fred Lake in Ottawa. The duo formed a fearsome pairing in front of Sens goalie Percy Lesueur for four seasons before Lake's departure to Montreal.

Without Lake it is said that Shore's play began to slip. Perhaps that led to a rift with the Ottawa coaching staff. Shore apparently demanded to be let out of his contract and to leave the Senators but the team refused to comply. Shore continued to play for the Senators until 1918 when sadly Shore lost his life due to the terrible influenza epidemic that plagued North America in that time frame.

Hamby Shore was just 32 years old at the time of his death.


Marty Walsh

Marty Walsh was one of the most remarkable goal scorers of his day. In a playoff game against Port Arthur in 1911, he scored 10 times, placing him at the top of the list for single game totals. A newspaper reported the next day "this is a decidedly great performance for Walsh not only tallied at will, but he did a great deal of checking as well and was on top of the rubber from beginning to end." In five seasons with Ottawa he scored an unbelievable 135 goals in 59 games!

Walsh first came to prominence while playing for Queen's University in 1906, when they challenged the Ottawa Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup. Even though Queen's was defeated, Walsh's superb play against Ottawa superstar Frank McGee did not go unnoticed. The Silver Seven immediately made Walsh an offer when McGee retired in 1906. Accepting a contract in the International Hockey League instead, Walsh headed south of the border in 1907.

Playing in what was regarded as the roughest league in hockey history, Marty broke his leg early on in the season. Too bad for Marty but it was a blessing in disguise for a newcomer named Fred Taylor who was waiting on the bench. Taylor is better known as Cyclone Taylor, the most famous pre-NHL hockey player.

When Marty's bones healed, the Ottawa offer was extended again and in 1908 he joined the ranks of the legendary Silver Seven.

Walsh captured the scoring title during his first two seasons and was instrumental in Ottawa's Stanley Cup wins in 1909 and 1911. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of fame in 1962.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Bruce Ridpath

Bruce Ridpath was a high scoring right winger who netted better than a goal per game in his four years of professional hockey.

Starting out with Toronto in the Ontario Professional Hockey League, Ridpath helped the team skate to the league championship in 1908. Unfortunately, the Toronto Professionals lost a challenge to the Montreal Wanderers for the Stanley Cup that season.

Ridpath would taste Stanley Cup success soon enough, however. In 1910 he joined the Ottawa Senators and immediately settled in on a line with Marty Walsh and Dubbie Kerr. The trio were hockey's highest scoring line, especially in the 1911-12 season. Ridpath scored an impressive 22 goals in 16 regular season games then added 4 more in 2 playoff games as the Sens won the Stanley Cup.

Ridpath was on his way to a glorious hockey legacy before tragedy struck. On Toronto's busy Yonge Street an automobile ran into him, fracturing his skull. Though he attempted a comeback, the accident cut his career short in 1912.

Born in beautiful Lakefield, Ontario, Ridpath also loved the canoe. He put on shows internationally displaying his stunt paddling and canoe racing ability.

Ridpath died far too young after suffering a severe stroke in 1925. The never-married Ridpath was just 40.


Dubbie Kerr

Albert "Dubbie" Kerr started his pro hockey career as a high scoring left winger with the Toronto Pros of the Ontario Professional Hockey League in 1909. After only three games with Toronto, he jumped to the Ottawa Silver Seven. He promptly led them to a Stanley Cup victory!

Kerr, along with center Marty Walsh and Billy Gilmour became the most prolific scoring line in the ECHA. In 1911 Bruce Ridpath replaced Gilmour on right wing and the new trio powered their way to an mindboggling 91 goals between them, leading Ottawa to their second Stanley Cup in three years.

After one more season in Ottawa, Kerr jumped to the PCHA to play for the Victoria Aristocrats. he continued to skate for Victoria for five seasons before moving south to Spokane for one more. He retired in 1920.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ottawa Hockey Legends

Ottawa Senators - Modern

Craig Billington - A true student of the game, Craig Billington went from top prospect, to starter, to backup to Patrick Roy's goalie coach.

Darcy Loewen - Darcy Loewen was one of many hard working, fan favorite, but not overly good Ottawa Senators from the expansion years.

Ron Tugnutt - Best remembered for his 70 save night as a Nordique, Ron Tugnutt set the modern day NHL record for season GAA in Ottawa.

Ottawa Senators - Original

Clint Benedict - Praying Bennie was the statistically dominant goalie of the early NHL. He backstopped the Ottawa Senators to the NHL's first dynasty, and wore the very first goalie mask in NHL history.

Bill Beveridge - Bill Beveridge is a long forgotten goaltender of a long forgotten team. There's not many people around anymore that saw the Montreal Maroons play.

Punch Broadbent - Punch Broadbent was one of National Hockey League's early great goal scorers.

Sprague Cleghorn - A great defenseman, history will always remember Sprague Cleghorn as the baddest man in all of hockey..

Alec Connell - Known as the "Fireman" simply because he was actually a fireman in addition to a hockey player, Alec Connell also put out the fire of opposing NHL sharpshooters.

Jack Darragh - Ottawa born and bred, Jack Darragh was the scoring hero in back to back Stanley Cup championships in 1920 and 1921.

Frank Finnigan - Compared by one source as the Michael Peca of his day, "The Shawville Express was a rugged two way forward.

Percy Lesueur - Peerless Percy was the first great goaltender in Ottawa history.

Ottawa Silver Seven

Cyclone Taylor - Best known with Ottawa and Vancouver. , the Cyclone was hockey's first national superstar, he excelled at all positions except goal.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Punch Broadbent

Harry Broadbent was nicknamed "Punch" for a couple of reasons: he had knockout scoring punch with a knack for scoring at clutch times; and he was also one of the best fighters in his era in the NHL.

Born in Ottawa, July 13, 1892, Broadbent played most of his career in the nation's capital. After playing three years of senior hockey in the Ottawa area, Punch turned pro when the Ottawa Senators and the National Hockey Association was formed. In his first season, 1912-13, he scored 21 goals and two seasons later he bettered his exploits to 24 goals.

Punch put his hockey career on the backburner in order to serve his country for three years in World War 1. Punch returned triumphantly and sporting a Canadian Military Medal for his heroic combat service overseas.

In 1919, Broadbent resumed his career with the Senators, only now the NHA was extinct and the NHL was the premier league. Punch stayed five seasons in Ottawa, earning 3 Stanley Cup championships. He only played in 8 games in his first NHL season, but whoed he had what it took in 1919-20, his second season. He scored 19 goals in 21 games and added 5 points in 5 playoff games. He also showed his mean streak as witnessed by his 42 PIM in those 5 playoff games.

Punch was born and bred in Ottawa and loved the area. He never wanted to leave the city and for a while refused to play other NHL teams.. In fact on New Year's Eve 1920, the Sens sold him and Sprague Cleghorn to Hamilton, but Punch refused to report and retired instead. Hamilton then traded him to the Montreal Canadiens, but again Punch refused to report. Eventually Punch's playing rights were returned to Ottawa and Punch returned to the ice. He only played in 9 games that year because of his refusal to play, scoring 4 goals and 1 assist.

The Senators were counting their lucky stars the following season. After trying to move Punch, he returned to team and had one of the greatest seasons in NHL history. He scored a league leading 32 goals and 46 points in 24 games. He also set the long standing NHL record of scoring at least one goal in 16 consecutive games!

However in 1924 the Senators were again looking to sell him. Punch and Clint Benedict were sold to the Montreal Maroons. This time Punch did report and played in Montreal for 3 seasons, and earned a 4th Stanley Cup in 1926. Punch returned to Ottawa for the 1927-28 season. The following season he played for the New York Americans. It proved to be Punch's final season of hockey. The next year he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force.

He scored 122 goals and had 45 assists in his 11 NHL seasons, adding 12 goals and 7 assists in 42 playoff games. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962, Harry Broadbent died March 6, 1971, at the age of 77.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ron Tugnutt

March 21st, 1991. Quebec's Ron Tugnutt stopped 70 Bruins shots, including 12 in overtime, to give the Nordiques a 3-3 tie at Boston.

The Bruins' 73 shots were 10 short of the NHL record set by Boston in a 1941 game against Chicago. Ray Bourque set a NHL single game record with 19 shots himself!

Tugnutt's performance was so impressive even some of the Bruins' players skated over to congratulate him.

Here's some video highlights:

That Nordiques team was really bad. But Tugnutt was the guy you really pulled for, even if you were a fan of the opposition that night. He was a small but exciting reflex goalie, and a hard and enthusiastic worker.

Early in his career, especially in Quebec, he was a hot and cold goalie, often flopping around the net, looking either spectacular or foolish. Obviously Boston caught him on a spectacular night.

He was never really a number one goalie though. He filled that role with terrible teams in Quebec and in Columbus. With the guidance of goaltending coach Phil Myre he had some good years in Ottawa, even setting a modern single season record with a 1.79 GAA one year. But ultimately he split duties with Damian Rhodes and Patrick Lalime. Otherwise he was labeled a back up goalie when with strong teams like Edmonton (Bill Ranford), Montreal (Patrick Roy) and Dallas (Marty Turco).


Darcy Loewen

Darcy Loewen was an extremely popular player at the minor league level. He was a pint sized winger (just 5'10" and 185 pounds) but he played with such heart and zest that you couldn't help but cheer him on. He didn't score many goals, but his fiery and relentless physical play made him a valuable player, particularly in his 4 seasons in Las Vegas of the International Hockey League.

Loewen, born in Calgary, Alberta, learned to survive physical wars while playing junior hockey with the Spokane Chiefs for 4 seas. The Buffalo Sabres were impressed enough with his grit to select him 55th overall in the 1988 NHL draft.

Loewen turned pro in 1989 and immediately became valuable member of the Sabres farm team in Rochester of the AHL. For three straight seasons he proved to be a pesky but valuable player. The Sabres rewarded him with brief call ups in each of his first three years. However in a total of 12 games as a Sabre, Loewen failed to pick up a scoring statistic.

Loewen's NHL break came in the summer of 1992 when the Ottawa Senators used an expansion draft pick to select the rambunctious Loewen. For two seasons Loewen impressed with his hustle, but with just 4 goals in 123 games with the Sens and Darcy's NHL career was nearing its end.

Darcy may have enjoyed his finest years as a professional hockey player in his post NHL days. From 1994 through 1997 Loewen was one of the most popular players in Las Vegas of the IHL. He also played half a season with the Thunder's arch rivals from Salt Lake City before he headed to Britain for a year.

Darcy, who had a keen interest in agriculture, signed on with the WCHL's Idaho Steelhead's while he enrolled in college classes. He officially retired in 2000.


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