Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Class of 1945...and a Few Others

The Hockey Hall of Fame provides a brief summary of each of their Honoured Members at their website. Today I'm going to point out a few errors that have crept into their biographies of certain players, who are listed among the original group of 1945 inductees.

Dan Bain: The very first player (alphabetically) they have listed as being inducted in 1945 (the first year of the Hall) in Winnipeg Vics great, Dan Bain. The problem is, he was not inducted in 1945. He was inducted in 1949. All of the inductees in 1945 were posthumous, whereas Bain lived until 1962.

The only other issue I note with Bain's bio is the reference to the Manitoba Hockey League, which did not exist in Bain's time. He played in a league called the Manitoba and Northwest Hockey Association (MNWHA).

Russell Bowie: Third on the alphabetical list of the original 1945 inductees is Russell Bowie, one of the absolute all-time greats. Problem is, once again the induction year is wrong. Bowie was not honoured until 1947, in the second round of inductees. Like Bain, Bowie was still alive in 1945, and only deceased greats were honoured that year.

Bowie's bio also states that he retired from the game when the professional National Hockey Association was formed in 1909. That's not true; he ceased playing hockey at the very highest level after the 1907/08 season, when the Eastern Canada Hockey Association (ECHA) became a fully professional body. His Montreal Victorias, and the Montreal AAA club, both dropped from Canada's highest league and joined the new Inter-Provincial Amateur Hockey Union (IPAHU), a mildly successful effort to unite the top senior amateur players in the country. Bowie played two seasons in the IPAHU, tallying 27 goals in eight games.

Tommy Phillips: I'm not sure where they got the story that Phillips played right wing (instead of his usual left wing) because Alf Smith was ensconced on the left side. Alf Smith was a natural right wing, and always played that position so far as I know. And when I researched the 1907/08 ECAHA season myself some years ago, the game summaries had Phillips on the left and Smith on the right.

Art Ross: Ross did not die until 1964, and we know what that means by now. He was not inducted in 1945, but 1949. They also mention Ross' scoring exploits in his first senior season (1905), when he scored 10 goals in eight matches, which would be very impressive indeed for a defenceman. However, although Ross would play defence only from 1906 on, in 1905 he was a rover.

Hod Stuart: Stuart did not play point, as they claim, but cover-point, which was where offensively-gifted defencemen played. Playing in front of the point, the cover-point had more freedom to join the rush with the forwards. Stuart also played a bit of rover in his career, but was almost always on defence. He is also called a clean player in his bio, which would be unusual for someone credited with delivering punishing bodychecks. His 28 penalty minutes in eight games in the 1902 season suggest he wasn't as clean as all that. He also had 50 PIM in 21 games in 1906. Great player, yes; clean player, no.

Of the 12 players the Hall of Fame lists on their site as being inducted in the first class of 1945, only nine actually were. That's not a very good record. This has been passed along to the Hall through SIHR channels, so maybe by the time you read this, they'll have already corrected those errors.

Maybe someone out there can clean this up on Wikipedia as well, which uses the Hall of Fame site's information instead of accurate information. Only these nine men were inducted in 1945:

Hobey Baker
Charlie Gardiner
Eddie Gerard
Frank McGee
Howie Morenz
Tommy Phillips
Harvey Pulford
Hod Stuart
Georges Vezina

In future I might go through the bios of the players from other years, to see if there are any issues to be cleared up there as well.

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