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February 25, 2016

Morenz Was No Bobby Orr - Weiland

Although history tends to forget about him, Cooney Weiland was one heck of a player in the 1930s. In fact, his 43 goals and 73 points in 44 games in 1929-30 shattered previous NHL marks.

Weiland's Bruins were supposed to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in the spring of 1930. But they were upset by Howie Morenz and the Montreal Canadiens.

"It was a terrific shock to all of us," offered Weiland years later. "It seemed we got most of the penalties, especially in the second game. The Bruins always felt they were outmaneuvered. Imagine, of 44 (regular season) games, losing only five at home and away. And there were no soft touches in those days. Whether we were over confident or not, I don't know."

Weiland had many great things to say about Montreal's great forward Howie Morenz. In an interview in the early 1970s Weiland compared Morenz to Bobby Orr, the best player of another generation.

"Morenz was a great player, unquestionably the fastest skater of his time, no doubt about it. I usually tried to cut him off at his net, before he got started. If he got to center ice without being checked, he'd fly right by you. And he had a terrific shot. With his speed, naturally, it added momentum to his shot.

"But you can't compare him to Bobby Orr. Morenz wasn't a stop and start fellow or as good a stickhandler as Orr is."

Weiland Great Player, Too

Weiland was a great player in his own right. Perhaps history tends to dismiss his record breaking accomplishments because of the changes to the off-side rules that season.

"That was the year I led the league. You could cross the blue line ahead of the puck, but the guy carrying the puck had to carry it across the blue line. He couldn't pass it across to you. So you needed a great stick-handler to stick-handle the puck in, and our Dutch Gainor was an amazing stickhandler. Dit Clapper and I would bust in, across the line, taking a chance because we left the wings open, but Gainor would manage to hold onto the puck and get it across the line, then pass it to us.

"You can see what the new rule did to the defensemen. They didn't know whether to go for the puckhandler or cover the wingmen busting in, and they were all confused.

"But too many guys abused the rule. Some never came out of the zone. They stayed there, just like basket-hangers in basketball, exactly. And half-way through the season they cut out the rule and went back to the old way. But I scored as many goals in the last half of the season as I did when it was in effect. I thought it was a good rule. It sure opened up the game."

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