The Man They Called "Mr. Hockey"
Boston in the Thirties
From Obscurity to the Hall of Fame
Out of Canada came a man named Eddie Shore who lived through most of the Twentieth Century. He was a hockey player. His specialty was to play back by his own team's goal, protecting the goal from any invasive opponents who would dare to try to score. But when he took the puck and started up the ice toward the opponents' goal, the crowd of fans would rise to their feet because from that moment on, they knew that something significant would occur. Either Eddie would smash into an opposing player, get involved in a fight, or else score a goal.
Eddie was the ultimate defenceman, tough and brutal to any who dared to challenge him. Some say he was the best defenceman of all time. The State of Massachusetts, where he played for the Boston Bruins, thought enough of him to award him his very own license plate for his car. It read, "Mr. Hockey."
Eddie's jersey, bearing the number two, was "retired" by the Bruins, never to be used again, in honor of Eddie Shore, the incomparable defenceman who led the Bruins to victory after victory.
After his career with the Bruins, Eddie Shore continued to make news on the other side of Massachusetts, in Springfield where he owned, managed, and even played for a time with the Springfield Indians, a prominent minor-league team. Eddie had played for the Bruins for 13 years before leaving to take over the Indians team. Once in Springfield, Eddie stayed, settling in suburban Agawam.
Eddie Shore's career as a major league hockey player resulted in his winning Most Valuable Player four of the 13 years he was with Boston. No other defenceman in the history of hockey has topped this record, although other players who were more in front as forwards or centers did top it. For example, Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe were Most Valuable Players many times.
Not only was Eddie a Most Valuable Player winner, but also he was named to the major league All-Star team nine of his 13 Boston years.
But Eddie may have been too tough for the likes of many a referee. Right away, in only his second season with the Bruins, he set a new record for the most time spent by any player in the penalty box.
In the mid-Twenties, Eddie Shore began playing professional hockey on some minor-league teams in Western Canada. With the Edmonton Eskimos he became known as the "Edmonton Express." The Boston Bruins scouts noticed him and recruited him to the National Hockey League in 1926. By 1929, he became instrumental in Boston's winning the professional hockey championship.
Because of his many fights with other players, Eddie suffered numerous injuries and required stitches to repair his tough body. Once he accidentally punched a referee during a fight in Montreal in 1933.
After leading Boston to another championship in 1939, Shore decided to move on to ownership and management in Springfield. Shortly, the war ended the hockey games there, however, when the Coliseum, where the Springfield Indians played, was made into an Army depot for the duration of World War Two.
But after the war, Eddie resumed his management of the Indians, making news by being every bit the tough guy he'd always been as a player. Eddie would have some of the bench warmers do maintenance work at the hockey rink, just to keep busy. Players who displayed only "indifferent play" were punished with stiff suspensions without pay. They protested and fought against Mr. Shore. This line of activity later gave birth to the first unionization of professional hockey players.
Eddie Shore, Mr. Hockey, is considered by many to be the best hockey player of pre-World War Two times. In fact, the leading professional hockey commentators have ranked Eddie in the top 10 of all the best players in history. Eddie was originally from Saskatchewan. He passed away at age 82 in Springfield, Massachusetts, leaving a son and two grandchildren.
Defenceman Hard at Work
What is a Defenceman?
The main function of a defenceman on a hockey team is to discourage the invasion of his team's territory by any opposing players who might be trying to score a goal.
In hockey, there's a blue line across the ice, just a few feet ahead of where a player's goal is located. The defencemen, unlike the center and forwards, will stay back by their own team's goal cage. But when the hockey puck travels toward that goal, the defencemen often will try to keep the puck outside the blue line in order to keep it in play. If it passes the blue line, there will be a brief time out and a new face off at the resumption of play.
After Eddie Shore's era, the Boston Bruins had another great defenceman named Bobby Orr who now is considered the best defenceman of all time. Unlike Eddie Shore, Bobby Orr was not known for fighting, but rather for fancy skating. He starred in the Seventies, almost 40 years after Eddie Shore.
Many defencemen will remain back by their own team's goal cage and not venture forth to the other side of the rink. These defencemen may be great at defending against goals, but they do not score many points, unlike Orr and Shore who were "offensive" defencemen who often carried the puck forward all the way to the opponents' goal.
Because the opponents will move rapidly toward the team's goal, defencemen have to be excellent skaters who can turn and skate backward while trying to steal the puck away from the attacking opponents.
Minor League Hockey
When Eddie Shore left the Bruins to take ownership of a minor league hockey team in Springfield, he walked into history. The Coliseum, where games were played, was built in 1926. It seats almost 6,000 people.
The Coliseum was important in the annals of the American Hockey League where Springfield played against other teams from similarly-sized smaller cities.
But after 1991, the ice was removed from the Coliseum. It became instrumental then for other entertainment such as horse shows and circuses.
To this day, however, the Springfield Coliseum is most famous as the place where Eddie Shore managed the Springfield Indians hockey team.