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.


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