October 06, 2009

Harry Cameron

Before they were known as the Maple Leafs, Toronto's favorite hockey team was known as the Arenas and the St. Patricks. Before the franchise's birth the city had a team in National Hockey Association (the NHL's predecessor) called the Blueshirts.

One of the best players in the early history of Toronto hockey was Harry Cameron, an exciting puck rushing defenseman from Pembroke, Ontario.

Cameron scored 88 goals in 121 NHL games, and another 53 tallies in 100 NHA contests. One of the secrets of his success was his curved shot, even though he played with a straight blade. Somehow he was able to spin the puck to fool goalies with his elusive shot.

An amateur legend in Pembroke, Cameron was a boyhood friend of Frank Nighbor. When pro offers came for Cameron, he would only sign if Nighbor was also signed by the same team. Nighbor of course went on to become a very good NHL player in his own right.

After one season with the Port Arthur Lake City, Cameron and Nighbor moved to Toronto. While Nighbor would move west the next season, Cameron and his exciting end to end dashes would become a Toronto hockey legend, twice bringing the Stanley Cup home.

Cameron was also legendary for his temperament. He was said to be an unlikeable sort, very loud and outspoken. He was also quite uncoachable. His feud with Blueshirts boss Charlie Querrie was the city's live soap opera. Cameron regularly blew off practices and and training exercises, much to Querrie's dislike. But Cameron was too valuable on the ice, so Querrie was forced to co-exist with his grumpy star.

Twice Querrie had had enough, and traded Cameron away, only to reacquire him again. Thus his NHL resume includes short stints with Ottawa and Montreal.

Cameron left the NHL scene in 1923, but played on until 1933. He initially played 4 years with the famous Saskatoon Crescents, increasingly skating as a forward. He also played minor pro in Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Cameron was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

By The Way: It is believed that Harry Cameron may have been the first player in NHL history to record the "Gordie Howe hat trick" - one goal, one assist and one fight all in one game.

1 comment:

Graham Clayton said...

The Gordie Howe hat-trick occurred during a 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators on December 20, 1920.

Cameron was famous for his end-to-end rushes, and was the first NHL defenseman to score 4 goals in a game.