The Old, Old Guard

TED REEVE March 15 1935

The Old, Old Guard

TED REEVE March 15 1935

The Old, Old Guard



STANLEY WOODWARD, a New York hockey writer, started a terrific debate this winter when he popped up with an article to the effect that hockey is an old man's game. And he worked into his text a surprising number of names of oldish gents who are still potting around on the ponds of professional hockey.

It was a good article, too, even though Stanley, probably for the sake of argument, neglected to include the much longer list of stick-handling notables who took up the puck profession at the same, or an even later period, than his “old men” and have since folded up in the March of Time.

But Mr. Woodward’s words did bring home the fact that we are all getting along. Old soldiers, the song says, never die but just dry up and fade away. Old wrestlers never die either, and also they never dry up. And aged hockey players certainly manage quite often to drag out their careers by applying to the profession their hard-earned knowledge of where to go next and what to expect when they get there.

Struck by this thought, we had Jeeves wheel in the statistics and found that six performers of the 145 or 150 working men in the National League are in their fourteenth season of what could be termed big-league hockey.

This all star sextette from the Old Folk’s Home lines up with John Roach, of Detroit, in goal. King Clancy, of the Maple Leafs, and Red Dutton, of the Amerks, on the defense, and Frank Boucher, Rangers, Harry Oliver and Rabbit McVeigh, N.Y. Americans, as the bashing forward line.

Those six men are probably not the oldest players in the league in point of age, but this is a matter that will never be decided. For hockey players, like movie queens, are terrible at arithmetic, and it is quite interesting for those of us who grew up and loafed around with some of the best of them— that is, the hockey players, not the movie queens—to read the record books and find our pals growing younger all the time. They must keep better on ice, the same as coldstorage mutton.

If they can keep to this system a few more years they will soon be able to give up shaving: and that is why. in search of facts, we must fall back on the playing records.

The Greybeards of ’21

SO, FALLING back to the season of 1921-22, which really means 1922, we find Rookies F. Boucher and F. Clancy breaking in with the Ottawa Senators, and Players Oliver

and Dutton with Calgary and McVeigh with Regina, in a newly formed Western Canada Hockey League. St. Pats, of Toronto, have a new goalkeeper named Roach, who plays so well behind an ordinary team that they beat out the powerful Ottawas and win the Stanley Cup.

Whether the Western Canada Loop at that time could be called a big league or not, is open to question. At any rate, it had professional standing and the players got their pay most of the time. It afterward flourished somewhat, amalgamated with the old Pacific Coast League, and furnished some great hockey despite the fact that the players had to spend most of their lives on trains taking jumps from such outposts as Saskatoon, Sask., to Portland, Ore.

It was a big league then in more ways than real estate, and when it broke up after the season of 1925-26 the best players of this Western development moved into sweaters of the Rangers, Chicagos and Detroits—the three new entries in the National Hockey League in that exciting winter of 1927 when shinny finally moved into the big money.

Leaving this outline of history and getting back to our six ancient mariners: Frank Boucher, after one winter with Ottawa, went to the Pacific Coast League. Roach featured for some seasons with his acrobatic blocking, finally went off in his sights and was said to be through, but came back with Detroit, had another relapse and this time departed to the minors for part of a season but is once more guarding the Detroit cage. So King Clancy is the real veteran of the N.H.L. as far as continuous service can be counted.

There were three Pacific, four Prairie and four National league professional teams in that far-away winter of 1921-22. In those rugged days each team carried about nine or ten players. Roughly, then—and roughly is the word—100 professional puck chasers, including such folks in history as Rusty Crawford. Spunk Sparrow, Micky Mackay, Frank Foyston, Joe Malone, Newsy Lalonde, Cully Wilson, Didier Pitre, George Vezina, Harry Cameron and Harry Mummery, were in action at that time. Six of the class of ’22 are still with us.

In 1922-23 an Ottawa lad named Aurel Joiiat signed a contract in the Western League, but was traded promptly to Montreal Canadiens for the veteran Lalonde. George Hainsworth, who had gained fame as the net-minder of a Kitchener Allan Cup team, took the pro. jump with Saskatoon, and Bill Cook went from the Sex; Greyhounds, Northern Ontario’s allegedly amateur champs, to start his remarkable career with the same sadly named Sheiks of Saskatoon.

The next winter, Sylvio Mantha and Howie Morenz signed with the Canadiens, and then in 1924-25, three more Ottawa youths—Alex Connell. Frank Finnigan and Alex Smith—left the city league to travel with the Senators, while Hoolev Smith, of the world’s amateur champions, the Granites. also took the step to pro. company with Ottawa. Hap Day, a husky from Hamilton via Midland, signed with St. Pats and studied pharmacy in between trips: while Bill Cook’s little brother, Bun, and a heavy-legged youngster answering to the name of Shore, entered the Western Ixjague. Of course, many other fine young players did likewise, but we are only mentioning the survivors.

This adds up to eighteen players still at large who are completing eleven seasons at least in big time hockey.

But to be fair about this matter of service stri|xis, it also must lx? considered that up to the history-shaking winter of 1926-27, the pro. teams did not have a corner on all the great players. The Granites, when they were winning the

Allan Cup. would wallop the Toronto pro. team every time they got together in practice: while in the strange organization known as the U.S.A.H.A. many powerful bands could be found, and such pillars of amateurism as Big Train Conacher, Neis Stewart, Hal Cotton, Ching Johnson, Taffy Abel and Roy Worters did their stuff.

For that matter. Worters, Connie. Cotton and Stew, came to the N.H.L. as early as 1925-26. During that season Babe Seibert, Hec Kilrea, Wildor Larochelle and Pit Lepine also arrived, and therefore qualify this winter for the tin anniversary or something of that sort.

That makes twenty-six members of the Ten Year club. “Ten, twelve, fourteen years.” say you, “at anywhere from four thousand to eight thousand per year as an average salary—hmmm. Junior might have the right idea after all.” As a picture from life’s other side, consider the line-up of the Victoria Cougars, who won the Stanley Cup in 1925— Les Patrick, Holmes, Loughlin, Fraser. Frederickson, Jack Walker, Hart, Halderson. Foyston, Harry Meeking and Anderson. Coaches Patrick and Loughlin are the only stalwarts of that pack still in the majors. They were a veteran team, but of the Maroons, who swept to the world’s title the following year, only Stewart and Seibert remain.

Easy Skaters Have Advantage

WHAT MAKES for durability in hockey? Well, you can’t prove very much from the sextette of 1921. Size doesn’t count, because Clancy has long been the smallest defenseman. McVeigh the shortest forward, and Roach is so light he sometimes rebounds off the puck. Dutton is a rawboned man of 189 pounds or so, and Boucher is well built and wiry, but Oliver is medium sized and rather slight.

Dutton and Clancy are rough and ready players, although Clancy is a past master at the hook and trip and draws comparatively few penalties. McVeigh, Oliver and Boucher are seldom penalized.

The three fonvards are all very smooth skaters, with little McVeigh being exceptionally nimble on his blades. Dutton, though never a whirlwind, skates easily enough, but probably has hung in there on his indomitable spirit more than anything else. The remarkable Mr. Clancy, however, has always been a scramblv, hard-working skater though plenty fast, especially on the break, and has generally been a high

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Conlinzu'd ITOPI pa~~ 11

j tension, driving sort of a whacketv-whacker ¡ who should have burned out years ago.

Of the other early birds, Hainsworth is | j a stout, calm little man. Joliat is small and ! peppery. Morenz is sturdy, while Mantha is ; also well put together, and Bill Cook is a i lean and powerful 175-pounder, rated asoné ! of the handiest men in hockey with his lists, j These three forwards and one defense man j are also beautiful skaters, so—the case of Clancy to the contraryit would seem that I the effortless skimmers havea decided advantage. Yet splendid skaters are so plentiful in all grades of hockey that there must be plenty of other reasons for a lpng life in the big leagues.

It might also be mentioned that a few of these eleven energetic examples have been fairly free and easy in their training ideas. Furthermore, Cook. Dutton and McVeigh served overseas, and Red and the Rabbit were hit several times, Dutton almost losing his legs from shrapnel wounds.

Still Going Strong

WHEN ARE these gallant old war j horses going to be through? Boucher, who had the advantage of arriving early, looks good enough to go another five years. Bill Cook seemed to be slipping last year, but is playing sensationally again this winter. He only gives Himself about one more season. Morenz, who faded badly in his last two campaigns with Canadiens, has a new lease of the veeve-o with Chicago. He is not the Hurtling Howie of old, but, remember, he was the most closely marked as well as the outstanding individualist of the game for several years and everybody saved their Sunday bodychecks for Howard. Joliat, now reserving his best hockey for his home rink and the French fans, who idolize him, is still a going concern.

You cannot tell about goalies. When they ¡ slip at that trade they go with a rush, as j every mistake a net-minder makes is at once signalled by a red light behind him. Roach I and Hainsworth both seem quite spry, to


It is also rather difficult to dope out Uncle j Wiggily McVeigh. Always a handy fellow to have around, he has never been outstanding. He continues his own odd brand of stop-andgo hockey. Oliver, on the other hand, was one of the most finished and dangerous snipers in the sport for a number of years, so his lagging of late has been noticeable. Mantha, the smooth, has slowed up, and the fiery Clancy is also showing signs oí being weary at the close of day, but both men can be classed as stars.

In fact, a team of Twelve Yearers, with Hainsworth or Roach between the pipes, Mantha, Clancy and Dutton on the defense, and Morenz, Joliat, Boucher, Bill Cook, Oliver and McVeigh on the attack—even though they may be still playing by force of habit—would be a dangerous gang to meet doddering around the comer of a plav-olf j series.

For, every spring when the bud is on the j branch and the dough is on the line, all the hockey gaffers suddenly seem to fee! much better.

4* + + + 4*

Shackle Holds Prisoners

ANEW LEG shackle that automatically disables a prisoner who tries to run is being tested by the United States Division of Investigation. Invented by a seventythree-year-old Louisiana farmer, it consists of two hundred steel rods, bound to the thigh and lowér leg by padded chains. As a prisoner bends his knee sharply in attempting to run, a ratchet mechanism in the hinge automatically locks, preventing him from again straightening the leg. — Popular Science.