What Do Hockey Stars Do in Summer?
JAMES C. HENDY
WHEN THE referee has blown his whistle for the last time at the end of the long hockey season and the round of banquets is over for the Stanley Cup champions, hockey players begin to turn their steps toward the various parts of the country where they make their homes in the summer.
As might be expected, many and varied are the professions and trades of the different players. Almost any vocation you might mention has its representatives among the puckchasers. Many of the boys are farmers, as many more salesmen, some are electricians, bricklayers, mechanics; while a few merely loaf around, swimming, fishing and hunting while awaiting the call to the training camp in autumn. One player is a forest ranger, several are sales managers, one owns a string of race horses, while some are golf professionals.
Possibly the most interesting and romantic of the vocations is that of Irvine Frew, Scottish-bom defenseman for the St. Louis Eagles. Frew is the nearest approach we have today to that fast vanishing character of the old West, the cowboy. From early in April until the snow begins to fall in September, he serves as a ranger in the Forestry Service of the Province of Alberta. His activities keep him in the saddle twelve hours a day, and during the dry season, when he must always be on the alert for forest fires, he rides for even longer periods.
Last season, when the Eagles were carrying the smallest squad in the National Hockey League, it was necessary for Frew to play sixty minutes per game. Many people feared he might break under the strain, but they need not have worried. The 350 to 400 miles a month which he traversed on horseback, through heavy underbrush and over dangerous mountain trails, always on the watch for fires, checking on campers and fishermen, keeping trails cleared and maintaining a telephone line in all kinds of weather, had toughened him to such an extent that even sixty minutes on the ice was like a rest to the sturdy Scot.
Some of the greatest players in hockey are active farmers during the off season. Marvin “Cyclone” Wentworth, that rugged defenseman who played such a major part in bringing the historic old Stanley Cup back to the Montreal Maroons after an absence of ten years, operates a fruit farm at Grimsby, Ontario. Long hours working in his orchard have had a lot to do with Wentworth’s fine physical condition, and now that he has blossomed forth as a great star he should return to the hockey wars this fall, ready to pick up his stick and carry on where he left off against the Maple Leafs last spring.
Eddie Shore, regarded by many as the greatest defenseman of modem hockey, owns a large wheat farm near Edmonton, and close friends claim he prefers fanning to hockey. Eddie thinks farming much the safer of the two occupations, and is looking forward to the day when he can settle down permanently to country life. Art Ross, general manager of the Boston Bruins, has found that one of the reasons Shore has always been one of the last to rejxjrt at training camp is because Shore doesn’t care to leave his farm until every last detail has been attended to.
Bill and Bunnie Cook are also wheat farmers. They own adjoining properties at Lac Vert, Sask. While each of their farms is operated as a separate unit, they spend
much time together helping each other, just as they have done for so many years on the forward line of the New York Rangers.
When Bill left the Soo Greyhounds in the fall of 1921 to join the Saskatoon Sheiks, he was very much impressed by the opportunities offered the prairie farmers and decided that he was going to secure a farm just as soon as he could afford one. Before many years had elapsed Bill not only made good his word, but Bunnie also purchased a site adjoining his.
Bill Cook’s age is listed in the record book as 36, but the writer, who is responsible for putting it in the book, knows that Bill is older although he avoids the subject of age as gingerly as he fades from a slow-footed defenseman. A few who have known him since birth claim he was born in 1894, which undoubtedly makes him the oldest active player in the National Hockey League.
Farming is Popular
WE ARE going to let some of the younger readers into one of Bill Cook’s secrets. This is intended for those who aspire to be a big-league star some day. When you are sitting around with nothing to do in the summer months, you might construct a homemade goal at the end of a smooth walk and practise shots for the net, using a puck and stick and trying to score from every angle. You may think it silly, but Bill Cook doesn’t. Nearly every evening when the day’s work is finished on the farm, he puts in an hour or so sharpening up his eye, which any goaltender in the league will tell you is much too keen already.
Allan “Pete” Shields, giant defenseman for the Montreal Maroons, is a hotel man. Forwards who have tried to evade this clever player and have felt the force of his terrific body checks would never call him the ideal greeter or host, but visitors at the Keewatin Hotel in Ottawa, which is jointly owned by Allan and his uncle, Chris Carroll, tell us that the courteous greeting which you receive from the blonde-haired manager would do credit to the managing director of London’s swankiest hotel.
Another Ottawa boy on the Maroons who has an interesting vocation in the summertime is Alex Connell, veteran net-minder, whose sensational comeback last season after a year in retirement has been considered by many as the steadying influence which put the Montreal club at the top of the hockey world. Connell is secretary of the Ottawa Fire Department.
Connell is quite a character.
Practically every' season he announces his retirement because of pressure of his duties with the fire fighters, but he always secures a leave of absence and is in his position between the pipes in time for the opening game.
Although not so old as many
others in the N.H.L., Connell appears to be much older than he is. Frank Carson, silver-topped right winger who retired last season, once told the writer that when Connell was playing for Detroit he used to look back at Alex in goal and wonder whether the wrinkled old man all hunched up there in the nets wasn’t his grandfather.
Reginald “Hooley” Smith, brilliant, hard-working centre for the Maroons divides his time between his billiard academy in Montreal and his farm. This season Hooley won a wager with Kenneth Dawes, director of the Maroons. The latter laughingly told Hooley he would give him a fine big percheron for his farm if Maroons won the Stanley Cup. Mr. Dawes didn’t think of it again until Maroons got into the finals with Toronto. Then the tireless centre reminded Mr. Dawes of the wager, saying that just as soon as they were through defeating the Leafs he would be around to pick up the horse and take it home.
Mr. Dawes didn’t fail Hooley, and a beautiful coal-black gelding was duly presented at an elaborate ceremony which was witnessed by many important personages in the political and sporting circles of Montreal.
Many other players are interested in horses. Melville “Butch” Keeling, great money player of the Rangers, is simply crazy over them. Butch,is the proud possessor of a racing stable of his own numbering three good platers when this was written, although he told the writer that before summer was over he hoped to have acquired several more via the claiming route. Butch not only watches his hay burners run, but takes an active part in their conditioning and is up and around the track with the railbirds at the crack of dawn. Easter Hatter and Dark Mission, two prize steeds in Keeling’s stable, have already bobbed down in front, and his colors are becoming very popular with ^Canadian racing fans.
Charlie and Lionel Conacher, who have tried various
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enterprises in the past, are devoting all their time this summer to an oil and gas station which they are operating in Toronto. In the past Charlie has managed a popular restaurant and dance hall, but this summer decided to team up with brother Lionel.
If Lionel Conacher were given his choice he would remain active in sports the year round. The “Big Train” would like nothing better than to jump from the ice surface on to the lacrosse field, mixing in a little baseball if an open date appears on the schedule. As soon as the lacrosse season is over he would appear on the gridiron in his rôle of football player. Lionel Pretoria Conacher is one of the most versatile athletes the world has ever known.
There was a time when hockey numbered many dentists among its players. Possibly the most famous of these were Dr. Gordie Roberts of Montreal Wanderers and Vancouver Millionaires; Dr. Bill Carson, captain of the Toronto ’Varsity team and later an outstanding performer with Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins; and Doc Gibson of the old Houghton Lake club of 1904-05, which included such stalwarts as “Cyclone” Taylor, “Hod” and Bruce Stuart, Riley Hern, Joe Hall and others. While there are no active doctors in the N.H.L. today among the players, Dr. “Duke” McCurry,
I formerly of the Pittsburg Pirates and now a major league referee, is a dentist, as is Dr. Stan Brown, formerly of the Rangers and Windsor Bull Dogs.
While the medical profession is no longer represented in the major league, there is a druggist who is one of the star defensemen of the game. The prescription dispenser is Clarence “Happy” Day, popular captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who, although a registered pharmacist, devotes most of his time to his activities as sales manager of Conn Smythe’s sand and gravel interests.
Should any of the boys have legal problems they could call in Donald MacFayden, substitute centre of the Chicago Black Hawks. Don, a Calgary boy, received his B.A. degree at Marquette University before joining the Windy Cîty Club, and since then has studied at the University of Chicago, where he received his law degree last fall.
Leighton “Hap” Emms, the hardest checking forward in the game today, is a ■ successful electrical contractor at Barrie, Ontario, where he employs a large crew of assistants throughout the summer. In addition to his electrical business, Hap is a semi-pro baseball pitcher of note, and when coaxed can entertain you with his banjo and pleasing baritone voice.
Soccer also has its representatives from the ranks of the professional hockey players; Willie Cude, youthful goal-tender for Leo Dandurand’s Canadiens of Montreal, being a star forward with a strong Montreal industrial club in the summer months, j Many of the players are active in the oil j industry. Some are in the producing end of the business, while others take care of the merchandising.
Herbie Lewis, fast skating little left winger of the Detroit Red Wings, is sales manager of a chain of over thirty service stations in and around Duluth, Minnesota. When you see Herbie taking those short running steps on the ice for which he is famous, he is just practising to chase prospective distributors when he gets back to Duluth. Lewis has the reputation of making the red light flicker every time he goes after an oil contract.
Jimmie Ward and Dave Trottier, right ; and left wingers respectively with the j Montreal Maroons, are also oil salesmen, j both of them working in Montreal for large Í national distributors.
Ivan “Ching” Johnson, contrary to popular belief, does not operate a laundry when he is not smilingly committing assault and battery upon the persons of his oppon-
ents. The good-natured Ranger defenseman spends his summers in California, where he divides his time between his orange ranch and producing oil wells which he operates jointly with his father.
Ralph “Cooney” Weiland, smooth-skating centre for the Detroit Red Wings and the man who feeds those long accurate passes to Herbie Lewis and Larry Aurie, is one of the many insurance salesmen among the steel and hickory boys. It is said by teammates on the Red Wings that Lewis and Weiland try out their sales talks on each other and team-mates during the season, and while Herbie can’t sell Weiland any oil or gas, Cooney has sold plenty of insurance to the boys.
When you see Robert Nelson Stewart, the big bone-crushing centre of the Boston Bruins, coming your way, briefcase in hand, be very cautious as the chances are ten to one he is about, to try and sell you a nice fat annuity policy. We don’t know whether Neis sells accident insurance but doubt it very much, otherwise he would not lay on the wood as deftly on some of the boys in the league. We recall when Stewart’s mother visited in New York some years ago. Neis at the time was pivot for the famous Big S line of Stewart, Babe Siebert and Hooley Smith, which was the Maroons’ strongest line at the time and possibly the roughest trio in many years. Mrs. Stewart was much worried about her little boy Nelson, and confided her worries to Jack Filman, the Hamilton, Ontario, boy who is radio announcer and programme editor at Madison Square Garden.
“I hope the boys won’t get too rough with Nelson,” she said with a worried expression. “Nelson is such a gentle fellow, and the other players might take advantage of him.” Poor Neis, he’s only six feet two, weighs 205 pounds, and is never happier than when he is throwing punches at some opponent.
THERE ARE those who say that Russel Blinco, brilliant centre for the Maroons who was named on Maclean's All-Star squad by the managers, exhibits the touch of an artist in his work around the nets. This is not hard to understand as Rus is a fully qualified landscape architect. Before returning to Canada to join the Maroons, he helped design some of the most attractive gardens in beautiful Westchester County, New York City’s fashionable residential section.
Hockey coaches, whenever they talk of outstanding goal-tenders, never fail to mention Cecil “Tiny” Thompson, who guards the nets for the Boston Bruins and was selected as the outstanding goalie in the league by the managers last spring. They point particularly to the remarkable saves which Tiny makes with his hands. It is because of his summer activities as first baseman of the Calgary Pucksters, a semipro baseball club, that Tiny has developed the art of snaring pucks out of mid-air as if they were baseballs.
Tiny’s brother, Paul, fast skating left wing with the Chicago Black Hawks, is also a member of the Pucksters. The club is managed by “Red” Dutton, newly appointed leader of the New York Americans, and numbers among its members such wellknown hockey professionals as Dave Schriner, Fred Hergerts, Lome Carr, Vic Ripley, “Dutch” Gainor, Joe McGoldrick, Henry “Smokey” Harris, and others.
Alex Smith, former Ottawa stalwart, who is now a member of the Americans, may never have received the high salary which has been paid such mighty defensemen as Eddie Shore, “Ching” Johnson and “King” Clancy, but he has handled more money than all other players put together. Alex works in the engraving plant at Ottawa.
In speaking of vocations we have not mentioned golf. Some people have been known to call golf work, but we have always thought it nice work if you could get it, and would gladly “labor” at the trade the year round. s
Hockey is well represented among professional golfers: Many hockey players who
merely abuse the white pill for pastime might qualify as pros.
Possibly the outstanding pro golfer in hockey ranks is handsome Tommie Filmore, of London, who belongs to the Montreal Canadiens. In addition to having served as assistant to Al Watrous, famous Detroit golf professional, Tommie has been pro at several smaller clubs. He has qualified for the United States and Canadian opens on several occasions, and made creditable showings against Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen and many of the players of similar calibre.
Normie Himes is a golf pro at his hometown club in Galt. Roy Worters manages a country club; Ebbie Good fellow, lanky defense and centre-ice player of the Red Wings, is an instructor in Detroit; Hec Kilrea, Mike Brophy, Carson Cooper and Odie Cleghom are a few others who devote all their time in the summer to the royal and ancient game.
George Plainsworth, Toronto goal-tender, has the honor of being captain of the Westmount Golf and Country Club at Kitchener. George, who has never been known to get excited in a hockey game even when the Cook-Boucher-Cook line is closing in on him, has been observed acting in a manner which would excite the interest of a psychiatrist when a short putt failed to drop.
Earl Robinson, when not helping to sell shoes in his father’s Montreal store, can be found on the fairways of leading Montreal clubs; while Bill Brydge, popular defenseman of the Americans, takes time out from his automobile agency at Iroquois Falls to get in a few rounds a week.
In fact there are few players who do not at some time or other take a good swing at the pellet. Golf is a game which has cast a spell over everyone in the N.H.L. from President Frank Calder on down the line.
Cricket and Poultry
CRICKET, a game which is supposed to number some of the finest sportsmen to be found anywhere, claims hockey’s cleanest player, Frank Boucher.
Boucher is widely known as the outstanding centre now in major league hockey, and last year was elected to Maclean's first team by the managers. He has also been honored on seven different occasions by being awarded the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly conduct on the ice.
There is one player in the league who will never lose his head no matter how high he may climb in the hockey world. We®refer to Vernon Ayres, largest player in the N.H.L., who is active in the construction business in Toronto and has worked as a bricklayer on some of Canada’s tallest buildings. A roommate of Vem’s tells that one night after registering at the Royal York and being shown to a room on one of the top floors,
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Vem hung perilously out of the window, pointing to some of the bricks he had set while working on the building.
Possibly one of the most unique vocations is that of Dick Irvin, coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dick raises prize poultry at his ranch in Regina, and has exhibited many prize winners at shows in the prairies and Toronto.
Last season when the Maple Leafs were in New York, the writer tried unsuccessfully to reach Irvin at his hotel throughout one day. He had disappeared shortly after arriving in town. Seeking out a sports columnist who was travelling with the club, we were informed: “He’s at the poultry
show. Went there as soon as the train arrived.” You will gather that Mr. Irvin is a keen poultry fancier.
If Henry Ford ever decides to promote a professional hockey club, he need seek no farther than his assembly plants in Detroit. More top-notch players are employed there than by any other single corporation in Canada or the United States.
Space does not permit us to go into details of the activities of more of the players, but a brief list will give you an idea of the widely diversified occupations the boys fill when not chasing the elusive rubber up and down the ice lanes.
Stewart Evans, Maroons, automobile ! manufacturing; “Bucko” McDonald, Red Wings, farmer, Sunridge, Ont.; Bill Miller, Maroons, lumber business, Campbellton, N.B.; Eddie Burke, Americans, salesman, sports goods, Toronto; “Buzz” Boll, Maple Leafs, farmer, Filmore, Sask.; Andy Blair, Maple Leafs, salesman, Toronto; Larry Aurie, Red Wings, florist, Detroit; Bob Gracie, Maroons, restaurant manager, Toronto; “Baldy” Northcott, Maroons, sports goods business, Winnipeg; Doug Yoimg, Red Wings, automobiles, Detroit; Cecil Dillon, Rangers, telephone lineman, Owen Sound ; Harvey Jackson, Maple Leafs, hunting and fishing guide, Bobcaygeon, Ont.; Gus Marker, Maroons, farmer, Camrose, Alta.; Harold Cotton, Maple Leafs, salesman, Toronto; John Ross Roach, Red Wings, bond salesman, Detroit; Herb Cain, Maroons, automobile agency, Newmarket, Ont.; “King” Clancy, Maple Leafs, contact man, Toronto; Joe Primeau, Maple Leafs, sales manager, concrete block firm, Toronto; John Sorrell, Red Wings, insurance, Manitowoc, Wis.; “Red” Horner, Maple Leafs, sports goods salesman, To-, ronto; Sid Howe, Red Wings, insurance, Ottawa; Murray Murdoch, Rangers, salesman, New York; Ralph “Scotty” Bowman, clothing business, Toronto.