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Shrimp McPherson

Even the most knowledgeable hockey fan cannot be found at fault for not recalling the name of Alex “Shrimp” McPherson. After all, McPherson never did play in the National Hockey League. Or did he?

Alex McPherson, a centerman born in Inverness, Scotland, earned his nickname “Shrimp” as he stood only five and one-half feet tall and weighed a paltry 155 pounds.

During the 1930s, “Shrimp” was a useful player for a variety of American Hockey Association teams. McPherson broke in with the Tulsa Oilers in the 1929-30 season and scored 14 goals in the 29 games he played. His next five seasons were spent with the St. Louis Flyers as he netted no less than 17 goals each campaign. McPherson’s AHA travels also landed him in Wichita and Kansas City before his career ended after the 1939-40 campaign, having potted 138 goals over his eleven seasons.

But the legend of “Shrimp” McPherson is not so much about what he accomplished on AHA ice, but what he did one night dressed as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs during a post-season contest. McPherson was given the opportunity to dress for the Leafs due to a rash of injuries which depleted the Leafs hockey club of many of their regulars.

During this particular contest, McPherson was instructed to take to the ice as an injured Leaf was slowly making his way to the bench. However, the impulsive McPherson, just itching to make his NHL debut, jumped over the boards and onto Gardens ice before the injured Leaf had reached the bench. Unfortunately for McPherson, the referee blew his whistle just as his skates hit the ice. “Shrimp” skated back to the Leafs bench dejectedly as a “too many men on the ice” penalty was called.

McPherson never skated on NHL ice again.

Officially, McPherson was not credited with a “game played” by the NHL, but nonetheless, a penalty was called on the Leafs because McPherson was on the ice.

Now you decide. Did Alex “Shrimp” McPherson play in the NHL?

McPherson lived much of his post-hockey playing days in St. Louis. He was a trainer for the minor league St. Louis Flyers and finally made the NHL, as a trainer, when the expansion St. Louis Blues arrived in the late 1960s.


Ed Norris said…
I don't have a rule book from that time period. From the NHL's web site: "Game Played - A player receives credit for playing in a game if i) he steps on the ice during time played or; ii) serves any penalty."

So today he would have been credit for a game played. He stepped on to the ice during time played.

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