…And on this morning,
He has awakened,
A customary order of dress,
Another battle of wits.
Marked, not by the usual fog of ice,
But by the gun smoke of the range.
Not by the gamely whistles or horns will he march,
But by the orders of the wicked
A warrior nonetheless,
He has shown for duty once again.
Although on this day,
there will be no Glory.
-In Memory Of Our Hockey War Heroes
~Lance Del Plato
Today marks the 65th day players are removed from work on their own accord, but with stark contrast to the patriotic leave of absence we’ve seen before us. As we wait for the owners and players to agree on playing terms, perhaps we can acknowledge some of the finer moments in NHL History.
The Hockey community has been a victim of both World Wars, losing many hockey players to overseas orders. In 1917 the National Hockey League would emerge from the ashes of the NHA (National Hockey Association). Despite having only three teams, the NHL would prove to be an outlet for the people during war time and economic depression just as Major League Baseball has. The league would also expand in other markets in the coming years but in the wake of a bad economy teams would not be able to survive. The league would settle to six teams in 1942 and would remain the Original Six for 25 more years until the league sought further expansion. Regardless of how bad they may have played and still play, we can see those original six teams today continuously carrying the largest attendance numbers league wide. It is a testament to the quality of the game, the owners, and the players that take the ice day in and day out.
Nearly 100 hockey players (pre-NHL and NHL) left this great game for service in the First and Second World Wars – two events that have greatly shaped the world we live in today. Although we shun any thoughts or whispers of a death toll, the league has indeed lost some of it’s finest athletes. Hockey Historian Joe Pelletier on his own comprehensive website (www.greatesthockeylegends.com) reveals two NHL players and two pre-NHL perished in battle. From the NHL, Dudley “Red” Garrett of the New York Rangers and Joe Turner of the Detroit Red Wings passed in the Second World War. Prior to the NHL formation, Allan “Scotty” Davidson and George Richardson both served and perished in The Great War and both were honored in the Hockey Hall of Fame for their ultimate sacrifice.
A couple of more distinguished affiliates of the game have also served successfully and returned home from war. All of “our” soldiers have brought Honor to hockey players around the globe. They are ambassadors of the game and have left a legacy fresh in our minds today. You may be aware of them by the prestigious awards that garnish their names. The Hobey Baker Award is given annually to youth players who exemplify Good Character, Commitment, Teamwork, Persistence, Selflessness, Academic Excellence, and Sportsmanship. Hobey Baker was an American star amateur player; he never made it to the NHL having been cut short in a fatal plane crash shortly after his military service. The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded to the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Conn Smythe was a former owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a decorated, survived officer of the First World War.
This has been and remains one of the games greatest if not the greatest moment(s). You can find more details of our great history on Joe Pelletier’s website, NHL.com, and the Hockey Hall of Fame’s website.
You can click on the hyperlinks for more information about each individual or topic.