June 05, 2008

Art Ross

Art Ross is best known nowadays for the trophy named in his honour. The Art Ross trophy annually goes to the NHL's leading point scorer in the regular season.

Ross played defense for 14 years during his career. He started playing with Westmount of the Canadian Amateur Hockey League in 1905, along with Brandon, Manitoba in 1906 and Kenora Ontario in 1907 where he helped lead one of hockey's more fabled teams to the Stanley Cup. The next year he played for the Montreal Wanderers, also leading them to the Cup. He would also play with Edmonton and Haileybury Ontario before joining the Ottawa Senators of the NHA, which was the league that was the NHL's predecessor. When the NHA became the NHL in 1918, Ross played one last year, this time rejoining the Montreal Wanderers.

Ross actually tried to create what is probably the first hockey players association. The NHA set a salary cap of $5000 per team in 1910-11. The league's idea was to pay every player an equal $500, which of course was not the actual case as the stars got more money. Over the next couple of years Ross fought hard to get rid of the cap. He held out of training camps to demand more money and signed up fellow stars like Newsy Lalonde, Ernie Russell, Skene Ronan and Didier Pitre to form a player's league, similar to the baseball fraternity league of 1913. Ross's rival league fell through despite several attempts, and never did get off the ground. However his staunch beliefs in player's rights did eventually lead to higher salaries.

Ross is also one of hockey's creative innovators as he improved the design of the goal nets which were still being used in the 1980s more-or-less used today. He also perfected the hockey puck which hasn't changed, except for that silly experiment by an American Television station! Ross also came up with early forms of a helmet and the plus/minus system, not to mention the "kitty bar the door," which resembles today's neutral zone trap.

Following his playing career, Ross turned to refereeing. He also managed the Hamilton Tigers prior to becoming manager-coach of the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League in 1924. Ross is regarded as the man who established professional hockey in Boston, and was responsible for the acquisition of many of the Bruins' great stars. He coached Boston on three separate occasions and the team won three Stanley Cups under his direction -- 1929-29, 1938-39 and 1940-41

It is highly ironic that Ross went in to management. His battles with the NHA bosses were fierce, so it is unusual for a person like that to switch to the other side of the table.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945, Ross was name as the 1984 Lester Patrick award winner for dedication to hockey in the United States, nearly 20 years after his death.

1 comment:

Victoria Ross said...

As one of the grandaughters of Art Ross I am delighted to see some of his contributions to hockey noted. But there is much more that he contributed and was responsible for. My grandfather learned to skate with strap on skates on a remote trading post, created the Montreal Canadiens' logo, was the first to pull the goalie, created a line on the ice that could be seen on TV, and was an outstanding boxer, golfer, skeet shooter and lacrosse player. Most of all to all of us he was a great grandfather - whose Christmas present every year to all of us, by the way, were pairs of skates...