January 30, 2008

Stan Crossett and the Philadelphia Quakers

Stanley Crossett was a towering defenseman. His only NHL experience came in 21 games with the very lowly 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers. The Quakers were quite possibly the worst team of all time, winning just 4 games and getting 12 points in a 44 game schedule. Crossett did little to help out, at least offensively. He never recorded a single point in the NHL.

One episode summed up Crossett's and the Quakers season pretty nicely. The Quakers were in Detroit to take on the Falcons (later renamed Red Wings) and coach Cooper Smeaton gathered his troops together to warn them about a Detroit defensive pairing consisting of Reg Noble and Harvey "Rocky" Rockburn.

"These two guys have perfected the art of sandwiching attackers." Smeaton warned. "Noble steers people in to Rockburn and then Rockburn creams you. If you try to split them you can get hurt. And I mean hurt!"

Apparently Crossett wasn't listening. In the second period Crossett picked up a loose puck and did exactly what Smeaton had told him not to do.

Archie Campbell, the Quakers trainer, remembered the play well.

"Noble got him first, then Rockburn sent him flying off his feet. It was no ordinary hoist either. The big fellow (Crossett) seemed to take off like an airplane. Then he made a perfect three point landing on elbows and stomach and started to skid along the ice. The wind had probably been knocked out of him before he ever touched the ice."

Everyone in the building knew Crossett was in trouble.

"He was helpless" added Campbell. "He slid on his stomach from mid-ice right over to the boards with his stick extended in front of him. When the stick hit the boards, it jabbed Crossett's chin and knocked him out cold."

However the story doesn't end there. To Crossett's surprise, he had accidentally committed a foul on the play while in mid air. His stick inadvertently caught Rockburn, opening a wound over Rockburn's eye. So while Crossett was unconscious on the ice, he was given a five minute major penalty for drawing blood!

Campbell had dashed out on to the ice and administered smelling salts to revive Crossett. It took a while before Crossett came through. By that time he was already in the penalty box.

"What in heaven's name am I doing here?" asked a very puzzled Crossett.

Hockey record keeping leaves little hint about the rest of Crossett's on-ice career. But the wonderful website Lost Hockey.com tells us Crossett had an interesting life. After many years of service in World War II, Crossett returned home to Port Hope, Ontario where he operated a successful taxi operation, hotel and pool hall.


VelvetShadows said...

Speaking of the Quakers as the worst team of all time, that's a topic you should cover some time.
It doesn't quite fit under "Greatest Hockey Legends", but it's definitely legendary in it's own twisted way.

The typical team mentioned is the 74-75 Capitals. 21Pts in 80Gms, goal differential slightly worse then the Quakers.

Several other noteable teams though.

Joe Pelletier said...

Good idea Rand. And no, I don't think that is outside of the realm of the hockey history blog