commando call-up

The RCAF Flyers proved themselves to be Canada’s best senior hockey team in 1942 when they won the Allan Cup. The Flyers benefitted from what might be classed a wartime windfall: among the Ottawa-based airmen at their disposal that season were all three members of one of the NHL’s most effective forward lines, the erstwhile Krauts (and Boston Bruins) Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart, and Bobby Bauer. When another stacked military team succeeded the Flyers as Allan Cup champions the following year, it was thanks, in large, part to goaltender Sugar Jim Henry. After winning the 1941 Allan Cup with the Regina Rangers, Henry had played his rookie year in the NHL with the New York Rangers. Inducted into the Canadian Army in the summer of ’42 (above, to the right), he was posted to Canada’s capital where he suited up (above, left) for the Ottawa Commandos. Replacing the Ottawa Senators in the Quebec Senior Hockey League, the Commandos had their wings clipped a little when, to begin the season, the league decreed that teams could only ice four players with NHL experience in any given game. (That limit was later raised to six.) The Commandos had plenty of options: along with Henry, the former NHLers they iced that season included Montreal Canadiens’ veteran Ken Reardon, brothers Mac and Neil Colville (New York Rangers), Jack McGill (Bruins), Alex Shibicky (Rangers), Gordie Bruce (Bruins), Joe Cooper (Rangers and Black Hawks), Bingo Kampman (Maple Leafs), Polly Drouin (Canadiens), Gordie Poirier (Canadiens), and Ken Kilrea (Red Wings). The team the Commandos beat in the Allan Cup finals was a military one, too, Victoria Army, and they boasted a bevy of erstwhile NHLers, too  including Nick Metz (Maple Leafs), Joffre Desilets (Canadiens), and Bill Carse (Rangers and Black Hawks)  but not quite enough.


Alpine Ice: The first time St. Moritz in Switzerland hosted a Winter Olympics was in 1928, a year after this portrait of the rink on St. Moritzersee was taken. The 1940 edition of the Games was supposed to go to Sapporo, Japan, but in 1938, the IOC re-focussed on a return to St. Moritz. That didn’t last: just a year later, the new (new) plan had the Olympics going back to the site of the ’36 Games, Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria. Germany’s invasion of Poland later on that year put a stop to that, and in November of ’39, the ’40 Games were cancelled outright. Next up was supposed to be Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in 1944, but with the world still warring, the IOC scrubbed that plan in ’41. St. Moritz did see its second Games, the first of the post-war, around this time of year in 1948. Hockeywise, that was the year the RCAF Flyers skated out in their effort to restore the natural way of things by winning back the hockey gold that Canada had somehow misplaced in Garmisch in 1936.