March 16, 2008

Rabbit McVeigh

It is very tough to find great biographical information about Charley "Rabbit" McVeigh, a star forward with the New York Americans in the late 1920s and 1930s. And that would be why I've never posted anything about him before now.

But I recently found this gem of an article from the archives at Time magazine. This piece, from 1941, looked at how the U.S. decision to create the draft act would affect profession sports. The article opened by talking about the little known McVeigh:

"Pint-sized Charles ("Rabbit") McVeigh came home from World War I hard of hearing and full of fight. Like many another Canadian, he turned to U. S. hockey for a living. A star forward, the scrappy little fellow made a name for himself as a rough-&-tumble player, who never minded how big they came. Some time ago National Hockey League Linesman McVeigh, fractious as ever, called a close one on the Detroit Red Wings. Up streaked burly Ebbie Goodfellow, Red Wings captain, to give the umpire a piece of his mind. Calmly eying the big man hovering over him, McVeigh waited until he paused for breath, then let him have one. 'Listen!' said he icily, 'In the last war I got a dollar ten a day for killing big tramps like you!' "

Born in Kenora, Ontario, McVeigh spent much of his youth in Manitoba, playing junior hockey in Winnipeg. He would serve in World War I with the Canadian forces, losing partial hearing ability.

He would come back from the war and play senior hockey in Winnipeg and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan before turning pro with the Regina Capitals of the WCHL, where he played with the likes of Dick Irvin and George Hay. The team relocated to Portland, Oregon for the 1925-26 season, and McVeigh spent a season with the Rosebuds.

McVeigh finally joined the NHL when the new Chicago franchise purchased the Rosebuds and imported their best players. McVeigh, partnered on a line with Cully Wilson and Mickey MacKay, would score 12 goals in his first NHL campaign.

McVeigh was nicknamed Rabbit because he was so quick on the ice. According to the Time account above, he was also quite the scrappy player. Considering he was quite small at 5'6" and 145lbs, it was a good thing this early day pest was able to dart away from the many bigger players who must have wanted to pound him.

After another season in the Windy City, McVeigh was traded to the New York Americans in exchange for Alex McKinnon. McVeigh would put in seven consistent years with the weak team, retiring in 1936.

After his playing days, McVeigh used his skating gifts to stay on the ice, becoming a linesman and later a referee. I enjoyed this story about Red Dutton, a burly defender who, for some reason, was said to always try to get under the skin of referees.

"Rabbit, dammit, is the government still paying you that pension for your ears?" Dutton cried.

"Huh? Why sure, Red," replied McVeigh. Remember he lost some of his hearing in World War I..

"Well, they should be paying for your eyes, too," roared Dutton. "You're blinder than you are deaf!"

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I meet rabbit in Michigan had drinks with him in a bar he told me this story right here he was then trying to get back home to Canada so he could get health care I sure hope he made it was a very nice gentlemen