Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada is taking its annual winter show on the road this coming Saturday, settling into Owen Sound, Ontario, for a puckish program of events that Sportsnet will be beaming out across the country in-between NHL games.
The Georgian Bay-side seat of Grey County has spawned a host of hockey talent through the years, of course, Benny Grant and Les Binkley, Teddy Graham and Butch Keeling, Hap Day, and Harry Lumley.
Pat McReavy, too, who was born in town on a Wednesday of today’s date in 1918, and played centre for his hometown Junior B Greys. In 1938, he joined the Sudbury Wolves as they took on the (hockey) universe, representing Canada at the World Championships in Prague. When the Wolves prevailed and won gold, it was McReavy who scored the decisive goal in a 3-1 victory over Great Britain.
He joined the Boston Bruins for the 1938-39 season, shuttling back and forth between the NHL and Boston’s IAHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, over the course of the next several seasons. When Bobby Bauer and Bill Cowley went down injured during the 1941 Stanley Cup playoffs, McReavy was called up as a semi-final reinforcement against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He scored his first NHL goal in Game Five on March 29, beating Turk Broda for Boston’s lone goal in a 2-1 Toronto win. He scored again (on Johnny Mowers) as the Bruins went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals. So he got his name on the Cup, or at least a version of it: the engraver mishammered a letter, immortalizing him as “Pat McCeavy.”
His career as a Bruin didn’t last much longer: he was traded to Detroit in the fall of 1941 for Dutch Hiller. He retired from professional hockey in 1947, at the age of 29. Back in Owen Sound, he kept on skating, leading the Senior A Mercurys to an Allan Cup in 1951.
Pat McReavy died at the age of 83 in 2001. Today, Owen Sound’s present-day OHL team, the Attack, commemorate him with an annual trophy: the Pat McReavy Award for Unsung Hero.
The scroll commemorating Art Ross’ induction in 1949 into the Hockey Hall of Fame got it about right, deeming him a “super hockey star, brilliant executive, and inventive genius.” Born in Naughton, Ontario, on a Tuesday of today’s date in 1885, Ross was a pre-eminent defender on his own skates before he took up as an NHL referee and then as coach of the long-lost Hamilton Tigers. He was the original coach and manager of the Boston Bruins, of course, and in his time in charge there oversaw three Stanley Cup championships to add to the pair he’d won as a player.
That’s Ross in the black hat here, in February of 1937, coaching his Bruins from the bench at Chicago Stadium. Milt Schmidt is beside him, and Woody Dumart one along from him, with Dit Clapper (#5) in the background. Leaving the frame (#10) is winger Fred Cook. The Bruins beat the Black Hawks on this night, 2-1, getting goals from Clapper and Charlie Sands. Paul Thompson scored for Chicago.
(Image: ©Richard Merrill, Boston Public Library)
boston’s captain clam
A friend with impeccable Bruins sources tells me that Boston management aims to correct the record on their missing captains … just not quite yet.
The team’s centennial is coming up, in 2024, and a book and a documentary are planned, and so in one future fell swoop the errors that the Bruins have for so long refused to acknowledge let alone correct will be no more.
So that’s something to look forward to … in two years’ time.
Meanwhile, it was on a Friday of today’s date in 1905 that Marty Barry, one of Boston’s mislaid captains, was born in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, north of Quebec City. A centreman, he made his NHL debut with the New York Americans in 1927. The Bruins claimed him from the Americans’ Can-Am league team in the NHL’s intra-league draft in 1929 and he played six seasons in Boston.
Barry was 27 when he succeeded Dit Clapper as Bruins’ captain in November of 1933. It was a bit of a homecoming for the new skipper: Art Ross’ team had convened in Quebec City that year for its training camp.
“Some athletes talk a wonderful game,” a dispatch from the Boston Globe began early that month, but that wasn’t “one of the failings of the newly appointed captain of the Boston Bruins hockey club.”
Marty “Clam” Barry, following a meeting of the players and Manager Ross late here this afternoon, was asked to make a speech. Barry, who never utters a word in the dressing room, as usual had nothing to say, but his playmates insisted, so Marty stood up and made the longest speech of his career.
“Thanks, fellows.” Then he sat down.
That is Marty Barry, no bluff, no talk, but a man of action on the ice as he was always an outstanding performer of the Bruins since he was drafted from New Haven Eagles four years ago, and he topped an admirable record last season by being leading scorer of the Bruins and one of the top pointmakers of the NHL.
Barry scored 27 goals and 39 points in 48 games as Boston captain, which tied him for the team points total with Nels Stewart. He finished fourth in NHL scoring. The Bruins didn’t fare so well, finishing out of the playoffs in the nine-team league.
The Bruins’ captaincy was, in that era, a one-year appointment, and Barry was duly succeeded in the fall of 1934 by Stewart.
With Art Giroux, the Bruins traded him in 1935 to the Detroit Red Wings, getting back Cooney Weiland and Walt Buswell. In his four years in Detroit, Barry won a pair of Stanley Cup championships (in ’36 and ’37) and a Lady Byng Trophy. He played one last year in the NHL in 1939-40 for the Montreal Canadiens.
Marty Barry died in 1969 at the age of 64.
jack crawford: the captain, the headgear, the hairline
Born on a Thursday of this date in 1916, defenceman Johnny (a.k.a. Jack) Crawford played 13 seasons of hatted hockey for the Boston Bruins, contributing to two of their Stanley Cup championships, in 1939 and ’41. Dublin, Ontario, is where he’s from, in the southwest of the province, on the road to Lake Huron: Howie Morenz (and Alice Munro) country. Crawford died in 1973 at the age of 56.
He served as the Bruins’ team captain, though just a for a single campaign, 1945-46, and not, as the Bruins themselves still seem to think, for four seasons. I’ve been on a bit of a crusade about this and other oversights in the team’s accounting of its own captains, as you may know, having read about it (maybe) here and/or here. (Though maybe not.) The list of the team’s actual early-era captains is here.
Others, like Bruin historian Kevin Vautour, have been making the case for year. Almost two years after I first wrote about it … nothing has changed, Bruinswise. The team still doesn’t want to talk about the facts of their past. The word is getting out despite the team’s puzzling persistence in pretending that Bobby Bauer, Eddie Shore et al. never captained Boston. Last fall, dogged to the end, I shared the evidence with the people at Hockey Reference, the go-to non-league resource for NHL statistics. Having considered what the Bruins won’t, they duly adjusted their online page. (That’s here.)
There’s more historical grist for the mill, meanwhile, in a new and comprehensive book by Burlington, Ontario, historian Jeff Miclash. In its lavishly illustrated game-by-game study of the team from 1929 through 1939, Total Bruins has the goods on many of the missing captains, along with a wealth of other detail and drama.
But back to Jack Crawford. He has featured elsewhere in these Puckstruck pages before, with focusses on both his helmet (he was an early adopter) and on the related question of, well, what was beneath it.
In a pair of 2018 posts (here and here), I picked up on the question of why Crawford donned the helmet in the first place. A Boston Globe story from 1938, when he was a Bruins rookie, told this tale:
As I noted in 2018, Crawford himself is quoted (though with no source provided) in Glenn Weir, Jeff Chapman, and Travis Weir’s 1999 book Ultimate Hockey, where he substantiates the original Globe story. “When I played football as a teenager for St. Mike’s,” Crawford said there, “the paint would peel off inside of my helmet and the doctors say that some chemical in the paint triggered the skin infection that caused all of my hair to fall out over the years.”
If that confirmation needs re-confirming, I can report on the e-mail I received this summer from Jack Crawford’s granddaughter. Jennifer Swaylik is the daughter of Susan (Crawford) Hassett, the youngest of Crawford’s four children, and it’s with Jennifer’s leave that I’m sharing what the family understands to be true about the former Bruin captain’s helmet and hairline.
“My grandmother believed he had what we would now call alopecia,” Swaylik wrote. “He lost all of his hair as a late teen. It eventually grew back, but then fell out again, leaving thin patches until it fell out again, this time for good. He wore a helmet to cover it all at each stage. Any full head of hair you see in pictures was in between the final falling-out period or — eventually — a very nicely done hairpiece. Did the paint in his helmet at St Michael’s trigger something in his skin ? It was the thought at the time. They never knew for sure.”
(Top image: Tex Coulter, Boston Garden Sport News, December 17, 1961)
Built to endure, Dit Clapper was the first NHLer to play 20 seasons, and he was every bit a Boston Bruin for all of them. Born in Newmarket, Ontario, on a Saturday of this date in 1907, he distinguished himself early on a right winger, joining Cooney Weiland and Dutch Gainor on the Dynamite Line before switching back to work on defence in later years. More firsts: Clapper was the original NHLer to be selected an All-Star at both forward and defence, and when he was elevated in 1947 to the Hockey Hall, he was the first for whom the Hall waived its standard waiting period. He was a Bruin captain and served as both a playing assistant coach and coach for Boston in the 1940s. He was in on three Bruin Stanley Cups as a player, in 1929, 1939, and 1941. The team retired his number 5 in 1947.
The photos here date to later on in 1941, when Clapper was 34. That’s (a bandaged) Bruin teammate with him, 29-year-old Bill Cowley, on the right in both cases. The woman, whose name has gone missing over the years, was part of a promotional campaign that swept into Boston that November and enlisted these Bruins stars to the cause of raising funds for medical supplies to be sent to the United Kingdom to aid in the war effort against Germany and its allies. In another month, of course, the United States would be joining the fight.
(Images: © Richard Merrill, CC BY-NC-ND)