NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE MOVES TO EXPAND
November 1, 1924, marks the date in which Charles Adams was awarded 1 of 3 Expansion Franchises from Thomas Duggan for $15,000. This makes the Boston Bruins the first expansion team along with the Montreal Maroons, as well as the first American Franchise in the NHL.
Adams, who had fallen in love with Hockey a season or two prior watching amateur Hockey in Boston, and also traveling to Montreal to watch the 1924 Stanley Cup Championship between NHL Champions, Montreal Canadiens, and WCHL Champions, Calgary Tigers, hired Art Ross as the first Head Coach and General Manager. Black and Gold were chosen as the clubs colorway, as they were the colors of Adams’ grocery store chain.
Prior to signing as GM of the Bruins, Ross had a playing career which lasted 13 years, winning 2 Stanley Cups. One in January of 1907 with the Kenora Thistles, and one in 1908 with the Montreal Wanderers. He retired as a player following the Wanderers home arena burning down in January 1918. After years of being an on-ice official, being named Head Coach of the Hamilton Tigers for one season, he was finally hired in 1924 as the first Head Coach and General Manager of the Franchise. His first task was to nickname the club, which was a task handed down straight from Charles Adams himself. According to Ross, a “Bruin” (an Old English Word for Brown Bears in classic folk-tales, derived from the Dutch word meaning brown) is a “ferocious animal and alliterative with Boston.”
For the next 30 years, Ross would lead the Bruins to finish first place in the league 10 times, as well as 3 Stanley Cups. For 2 of those Cups, Art personally assumed the mantle of Head Coach. In 1947, Ross donated the Art Ross Trophy, awarded to the NHL player with most points at the end of the regular NHL season. On top of that, he innovated an improved style of Goal net which was used for 40 years. He also patented the style of the puck we use today (beveled edges for better control) and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1949. Art finally retired in 1954.
At first, the team was comprised of a group of the tradesman, who just happened to be skilled ice-hockey players of their time. In 1926, with the purchase and disbanding of the Western Canada Hockey League (Originally Western Hockey League) by Charles Adams, the Bruins got the rights to Hockey Hall of Famers Eddie Shore and Harry Oliver. This vastly improved the game for the Bruins, as they made it to the Stanley Cup finals in their third year, despite finishing only one game above .500. In the their first Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins lost to the Ottawa Senators (then called, “Ottawa Hockey Club,” and had several nicknames including Senators).
FIRST BRUIN STARS
After Playing 3 seasons at Boston Arena, the season of 1928-1929 was the maiden season of the Boston Garden, which Charles Adams guaranteed $500,000 towards the building. 1929 also marked the Bruins first Stanley Cup victory, with players including Eddie Shore, Harry Oliver, Dit Clapper, Dutch Gainor, and Goaltender Tiny Thompson.
Eddie Shore is iconic in the NHL’s history for his skills as a defenseman, as well his toughness. Third only to The Great One and Mr. Hockey. Shore still holds the most Hart Trophies of any defenseman with 4. Furthering his Legacy as Bruin, Shore was also widely known for his being violent on the ice, setting a then-record of 165 Penalty Minutes in his second season.
Without a doubt, Eddie Shore was the first great Bruin defenseman. At one point, he was involved in an incident which would shape the future of Hockey forever.
While playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Garden on December 12, 1933, Shore tripped the skates out from under Toronto’s star forward, Ace Bailey, causing his head to hit the ice and he went into convulsions. Legend has it, the hit from Shore was in retaliation for a check from King Clancy. Without seeing the culprit, Shore got up and went for the first player he saw wearing a Maple Leafs‘ sweater. After the trip on Bailey from Shore, Maple Leafs‘ tough-guy, Red Horner, punched Shore in the face, causing his head to also hit the ice. He required seven stitches but sustained no further injuries.
After the game, Shore was suspended for 16 games. Then on February 14, 1934, A picture was taken at Maple Leaf Gardens which would pave the way for future generations of Hockey. In the picture, Shore is seen skating up to and apologizing to Ace Bailey before the start of the Ace Bailey Benefit game. That game is now known today as the NHL All-Star Game.
Don’t let that one incident shape the type of player Eddie Shore was. He was also famous and widely known for his dedication to the entire game of Hockey. One evening, Shore was at dinner with his wife when he missed the train to Montreal, where the Bruins were set to face off against the Canadiens later that night. In response, Shore telephoned ahead to the next train station, to where he would drive through a snow storm to catch the train. With the car’s chauffeur scared in the back seat, Shore did not make the rendezvous at the next train station, so he drove all the way to Montreal. Along the way, in the middle of a snow storm, the windshield wipers on the car stopped working, so Shore drove almost the entire latter half of the trip with one hand and wiping the windshield out of the window with the other. He made it in time to defeat the Habs 2-0.
Playing at the same time as Eddie Shore was arguably the first great 2-Way Forward of the Bruins. Dit Clapper was the first Bruin to play 20 seasons, and 1 of 2 players to be honored as an All-Star as both a forward and a defenseman. Clapper was also a member of the “Dynamite Line,” along with Cooney Weiland and Dutch Gainor. Dit Clapper played his entire career as a Bruin and was involved in the breaking of several scoring records of the 1930’s. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947.
Tending the home net while the Dynamite Line and Shore went to work was Tiny Thompson. A 4-time Vezina Trophy winner. Thompson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959. In his debut season of 1928-1929, Thompson won the Stanley Cup and continued to play with the Bruins for 10 seasons before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings. During his playing career, Tiny Thompson would rack up 81 shutouts, the sixth highest of any Goaltender.
BRUINS MAKE THEIR HOME AT BOSTON GARDEN
For almost 67 years, until it was closed in September 1995, the Boston Garden hosted some of the greatest Hockey in the world. If you’ve heard the number, “13,909,” this refers to the maximum occupancy of the stands. Bruins legend Milt Schmidt attested during his career, “I don’t remember a home game that wasn’t at 13,909.”
Since the construction of current Bruins‘ home arena, TD Garden, many Bruins Alumni have made comments on their missing the Boston Garden. It is widely regarded that the stands of the original “Gahden” would,”put you right on the ice with the action.” The reason TD Garden took its place, was simply because Boston Garden’s age caught up to her. During the NHL Quarter Final series with the New Jersey Devils, on May 14, 1995, the Arena suddenly lost power, canceling the game until it could be replayed later in New Jersey.
The last event to ever be held at Boston Garden was a preseason game against old-time rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, which the Bruins won. Following the game, a special post-game ceremony was held, which included many great players from Bruins‘ past. For “The Last Hurrah,” the banners and retired numbers were removed. Boston Garden then sat vacant for 3 years until 1998, when it was finally demolished. The grounds where the “Gahden” once stood proudly, is now a parking lot to the adjacent TD Garden, where the Bruins and Celtics make their city proud today.
ADD THE MISSING PIECES
Any Bruin or event from the era not mentioned? Want to add another piece of the puzzle? Add them in the comments and show everyone your Bruins Pride!
Check back in next week when we take a look at 1934-1944!
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