Abbie Newell is a forgotten defenceman from the 1920s. Never a star player, Newell was nevertheless an important contributor to major-league teams for a number of years. At first glance, it might seem that Newell was an offensive specialist. Beginning his senior hockey career in Manitoba, as so many Western Canada league stars did, he was second in goals among defencemen in 1917/18, and improved to first in assists and second in points among defencemen in 1918/19, playing in a league which included names such as Harry Oliver and Bullet Joe Simpson, both Hall-of-Famers.
Moving from there to the Saskatchewan senior league, which two seasons later would provide two teams to the newly-formed WCHL, Newell led all defencemen in points in 1920/21, and led the entire league in assists. Now he was in a league playing against Rusty Crawford, Dick Irvin and George Hay, among others. The following season he again led all defencemen in points.
In the WCHL in 1922/23, Newell was third in blueliner points per game, behind only Joe Simpson and Red Dutton. In 1924/25, he was fifth in points per game, behind Herb Gardiner, Joe Simpson, Bobby Trapp and Harry Cameron. In 1926 he left to play in the California professional league with several other Canadian star players, and led that league in goals.
But he was more than a scorer. When his Regina Capitals had the best defence in the league in 1923/24, Newell was one of the starters on the blueline, playing ahead of Duke Dukowski, who was used as a substitute. The following quotes demonstrate his solid defensive reputation. The last quote is interesting, showing that a young Eddie Shore was an adequate substitute for an injured Newell.
Newell, in addition to supplying one of Moose Jaw's counters, played a sterling defensive game in combination with [Bobby] Benson. (Regina Morning Leader, 14 Feb 1922)
Besides playing sterling defensive hockey, Newell also came through with a goal, instigated the rush and made the pass for the goal which gave the Caps their overtime win on Saturday night. (Regina Morning Leader, 11 Feb 1924)
Caps will take the ice up north tonight without the services of Abbie Newell, star defence man. Newell is suffering from an injured hip and will not be able to participate in the game, but Eddie Shore will step into the vacant place in the line-up, and [the coach] declared he's satisfied with his substitute. (Regina Morning Leader 21 Jan 1925)Although Newell was a left-hand shot, the evidence points to him playing right defence. He was a regular partner with Percy Traub, who was also a left-hand shot, and when Newell was injured he was replaced by Eddie Shore, a right-hand shot.
An examination of his Point Allocation record reveals a solid career, producing some offensive value as well as defensive. He was a journeyman, only twice playing for the same team two seasons consecutively, and this might be a reason that he is not better-known today. He's not easily associated with a particular team, and was not a superstar, but was always in demand when a team was in need of a blueliner.
|1920||Moose Jaw Maple Leafs||SSHL||3||80||2000||1.1||4.6||-0.3||5.4||2.70|
|1921||Moose Jaw Maple Leafs||SSHL||3||80||2000||2.2||4.6||-0.5||6.3||3.15|
What Did He Wear?
Regina Capitals, Western Canada Hockey League:
Vancouver Maroons, Pacific Coast Hockey Association:
Edmonton Eskimos, Western Canada Hockey League:
Saskatoon Crescents, Western Canada Hockey League: