March 05, 2010

Normie Himes

At 5'9" and 145lbs, Normie Himes was a diminutive and heady center with the New York Americans from 1926 through 1935. In 399 games Himes scored 106 goals and 113 assists for 219 points.

Himes was described as a brilliant playmaking center, and an underrated scorer. While he was not necessarily the star of the Amerks, he was the backbone. He started out as a reserve center (kind of like a 3rd or 4th line player nowadays). He really impressed in his opportunities to play. He finally displaced husky Bill Burch when Burch suffered a bad knee.

Wearing his trademark black ball cap, Himes emerged as the Americans leading scorer for the net seven seasons. His best year came in 1929-30, scoring 28 goals in the 44 game NHL schedule and had 50 points. His regular linemates were Johnny Sheppard and Rabbit McVeigh although he also played with George Patterson, Hap Emms and Joe Lamb.

The Americans never had much team success, likely why Himes did not earn the notoriety he probably should have. As one commentator suggest, Himes "should be judged the MVP of the league if the Americans weren't so far down in the standings." In 1930 he finished 6th in Hart trophy balloting.

There was no All Star game back in those days, but Himes was one of the players chosen in the very first All Star game, which, in 1934, was actually a benefit game for fallen player Ace Bailey.

He was a crafty pivot blessed with intelligent burst of speed, very durable despite his size having played 360 consecutive games. He could be dazzling at times, but for the most part was an underrated star.

Twice Himes took to the nets. On December 5th, 1927 he replaced injured goalie Joe Miller, playing 19 minutes without surrendering a goal. A year later he actually started the game when Jake Forbes was unable to go. Himes only let in 3 goals in 60 minutes, but without him up front, no one could score. Final score Toronto 3, NY Americans 0.

A legendary figure in his hometown of Galt, Ontario where he also starred in baseball, golf, curling and other sports, Himes tried his hand a coaching in the minor leagues then back home with the Guelph Biltmores and Galt Red Wings.

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