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July 14, 2013

Cooney Weiland

Born at Seaforth, Ontario, Nov. 5, 1904, Ralph Weiland went to Owen Sound in 1923 to play junior hockey. The next season Owen Sound won the Memorial Cup. Weiland, according to Total Hockey, scored 33 goals in 9 regular season games and 37 more in 15 playoff games.

When Weiland moved to Owen Sound, he had imagined himself pursuing a career as a pharmacist shortly thereafter. However his hockey prowess was so noted, that he decided to set aside his academic pursuits and enjoy life as a professional hockey player.

"Cooney," a childhood nickname that stuck with him for life, played for the next 4 years in Minnesota Millers. The Millers were a very good hockey team and were starting to catch the eye of NHL scouts, particularly the Boston Bruins. By Christmas 1927 the Bruins purchased the playing rights of both Weiland and goaltender Tiny Thompson. Weiland had a decent first NHL season, scoring 11 goals and 18 points in 42 games. Those were pretty good numbers in 1928-29. He also added 2 goals in the playoffs as the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup championship.

1929-30 was a season for the ages for Cooney. Playing on the "Dynamite Line" with Dit Clapper and Dutch Gainor, Weiland led the Bruins to the league's best mark. In the first season that forward passing was allowed, the Bruins went 38-5-1. Much of that great result was due to Cooney's great play. He destroyed Howie Morenz's record of 51 points in a season by scoring 43 goals and 73 points in 44 games. He also led all playoff scorers in scoring, though the Bruins could not win a second consecutive championship.

A gifted stickhandler, Weiland was never able to equal the greatness he displayed in the 1929-30 season. Teams learned how to stop him as teams adjusted to the new passing rules. Weiland, perhaps the biggest benefactor of the rule change, wasn't able to catch opposing teams by surprise any longer. He cooled off to "just" 25 goals and 38 points in 1930-31. He led the league in playoff scoring that season (9 points in 5 games) but again the B's were unable to win the Cup. By 1931-32 the 5'7" 150lb center's production slipped to 14 goals and 26 points.

In the midst of the Great Depression, the Bruins sold Cooney to the Ottawa Senators in 1932. Weiland responded by leading the last place Sens in scoring. But Weiland's stay in Canada's capital city was short, as 9 games into the 1933-34 season he was sold to the Detroit Red Wings. Weiland's stay in Detroit was also short, though sweet. Playing on a line with Herbie Lewis and Larry Aurie, he was named to the Second All Star Team in 1934-35.

Weiland's career came full circle in June of 1935. He was traded back to Boston in exchange for Marty Barry. Cooney would play 4 more years for the Bs, winning one more Stanley Cup in 1939, his last year as a player.

Though he didn't play, Weiland was a big part of the Bruins 3rd Cup championship as well. Named head coach the day of his retirement as a player, Cooney guided the Bruins to a Cup championship just two years later, in 1941.

Weiland would go on to coach at the AHL level before being named head coach at Harvard University. Weiland remained at Harvard for 21 years, compiling a 316-172-17 record.

Cooney Weiland was enshrined in hockey's hallowed halls in 1971. A year later he was honoured as a Lester Patrick Trophy winner for his dedication to growing the game of hockey in the United States.

Cooney Weiland died on July 3, 1985.

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