Tuesday 21 February 2012

Clare McKerrow - a Brief but Dominant Career

We've been spending a good deal of time in the 20th century lately, albeit to early 20th century. But it's time again for something from the 19th, to centre ourselves.

Clare McKerrow played rover for the Montreal AAA from 1896 to 1899, only four seasons. But he accomplished more in that short time than most players do in an entire career. In his four years, he finished second, first (tied), second and first in goals per game in Canada's highest league. Take a look at his Point Allocation records:

1896Montreal Winged WheelersAHAC46012005.9-
1897Montreal Winged WheelersAHAC48016005.
1898Montreal Winged WheelersAHAC48016006.
1899Montreal Winged WheelersCAHL4469206.4-


He was the best player in the country in 1899 with a 6.74 TPAK, which comes close to hitting the Gretzky-Orr Threshold. He was more than simply a scorer, though he was noted as being an exceptional natural goal-scorer. McKerrow was also noted as a gifted skater and diligent checker. He played his last senior hockey at age 21. It's incredible to imagine what he might have done had he played into his prime athletic years, a two-way force that could have kept the AAA on top of the league for a number of years. As it is he won a Stanley Cup in 1895 (his first appearance in senior hockey was in a Cup game), and another as  coach on the AAA in 1902.

Clare McKerrow is also credited as a mentor to a young Lester Patrick, teaching him about the game, and how to conduct himself as a gentleman. As Patrick proved throughout his career as a player and an executive, he was an unparalleled expert on both topics, so it seems McKerrow was a creditable teacher as well.

It should be noted that the picture above is actually from a lacrosse card, from over a decade after McKerrow played his last senior hockey. The image can also double for a picture of Andrew McKerrow, who played point for the Montreal AAA in 1896 (1.20 TPAK), and who happened to be Clare's twin brother, the first confirmed incidence of twin brothers playing on the same senior-level squad.

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