Saturday, 10 December 2011

Eagle-Eye Cameron

To complete the Montreal AAA's defensive triumvirate, we have Allan "Eagle Eye" Cameron, the famous cover-point:

Of all the great Winged Wheelers, Cameron was the most celebrated player. He ability on offence, on defence and as a team leader were often noted in the game reports of the time:
McQuisten got it and tried to carry it past Cameron, who was a strong tower in himself, and sent it back again. (Montreal Gazette, 14 Jan 1888)
Kinghorn ran it well up, but Cameron came to the rescue and relieved the pressure. Kinghorn again got it, but his career was short as Cameron stopped him. (Montreal Gazette, 4 Feb 1888)
Cameron was feeding his forwards grandly. (Montreal Gazette, 4 Feb 1888)
Play had hardly commenced when the two cover point men [Cameron and the Vics' Jack Campbell] began the magnificent work that characterized their play all through the match. (Montreal Gazette, 28 Feb 1888)
Allan Cameron, of the M.A.A.A. team, had his eye closed in the fourth game, but pluckily went on for the fifth. (Montreal Herald, 4 Feb 1889)
Cameron, by a pretty shot, added another point for the M.A.A.A. team. (Montreal Herald, 18 Jan 1890)
The spectators were very often raised to a high pitch of enthusiasm through the dashing play of Campbell, who certainly played a magnificent game. Cameron, somehow or other, managed to get in his road and interrupt him when he appeared to be dangerous. (Montreal Herald, 20 Feb 1890)
Paton had many stops to make, nevertheless, but they were of the free and easy order and he cleverly drove the puck out of his territory. Stewart and Cameron swooped around after the puck in admirable style. (Montreal Gazette, 8 Mar 1892)
Cameron played a beautiful game and owing in great part to the lack of combination among his opponents, scarcely one of them ever got past him. If they did they were almost sure to be stopped by Paton. (Montreal Gazette, 30 Jan 1893)
At last the puck was raised up the rink by Watson, but Stewart and Cameron were hard men to pass. (Montreal Gazette, 11 Feb 1893)
The cover-point position was made for dynamic, all-around players. It involved not only being the first line of defence against the opponent's rushes, but also being an important part of the transition between defence and offence. Hugh Baird, a later Montreal AAA cover-point, described the position thusly in Art Farrell's Hockey: Canada's Royal Winter Game (1899):
The cover-point is a combination of a defence man and a forward, and is allowed, in virtue of the fact, more latitude with respect to leaving his position, than any man on the team, except the rover.
In his capacity of a defence player he should linger around his goals as long as the puck is near, and be very careful when he secures it in front of the poles. When the play is at the other end of the rink, the cover-point should advance to about the middle, so that when the puck is lifted down, he may return it without loss of time, in order to keep the game centered around his opponents' goals, and to save his forwards the trouble of skating up to him so that they may again ''get into play." It is by playing far up under these circumstances that a clever cover-point can shine to the advantage of his team. If he has a good opening he should shoot well for the goals, but if he has not, he should, as I have said, return the puck instantaneously.
When in this position, far from his goals, a cover-point is suddenly confronted by an opposing forward who rushes down the ice, he should skate towards his defence, watching that man and gradually closing in upon him.
I am an advocate of legitimate body-checking. and consider that the most successful way of stopping a man who approaches alone, is by blocking him, obstructing his course in any way that does not violate section 8. It requires less effort and is less dangerous to block an opponent than to "body" him.
By its very nature, the cover-point position lent itself to well-rounded players, with both offensive and defensive ability. And since he was generally in position to see more of the ice that the other skaters, the role of team captain also suited the position well. Judging by the game reports, Allan Cameron was very effective with the puck, but also without, and had a talent for "challenging" opposing puck carriers and removing the puck from their possession. Rather than simply obstructing the opponents' course, as Baird suggests above, it seems Cameron preferred to go after them aggressively, and was very effective at doing so. We'll discuss this tendency, how effective it could be given the rules of the time, and how it reflects the AAA's defence as a whole in a future post.


  1. As a kid Eagle-Eye Cameron wore a Chelios jersey.

  2. I'm not saying Chelios is old, but he is almost as old as Chelios is old jokes!


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