July 14, 2013
Captaining a NHL team to the Stanley Cup can be one of the truly great honours in the career of a professional hockey player. Think of the legends like Mark Messier or Rocket Richard or Jean Beliveau. How about Ted Lindsay or Bobby Clarke or Steve Yzerman. They are all the epitome of hockey greatness.
Now the passage of time has certainly wiped out the legacies of Stanley Cup champions prior to World War II, so it is understandable that those captains are no longer as celebrated. Still, the likes of Joe Malone and Eddie Gerard and Hooley Smith are rightfully enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
But perhaps the least known captain of a Stanley Cup champion is Doug Young. He actually led the Detroit Red Wings to back-to-back championships in 1936 and 1937.
Those Detroit teams were pretty stacked. Syd Howe and Marty Barry led the way up front along with the likes of Larry Aurie, Herbie Lewis and John Sorrell riding shotgun. Ebbie Goodfellow anchored the defense, along Bucko McDonald and a swift skater out of Medicine Hat, Alberta nicknamed "the Gleichen Cowboy" - Doug Young.
Jack Adams was impressed not only with Young's play but his leadership abilities and named him captain prior to the 1935-36 campaign. Young had his best year with 5 goals and 17 points. Young, who was at times described as "dashing" and "a star," ranked as the third highest scoring d-man in the league that year, though he didn't garner a lot of All Star votes.
Not that Young particularly cared. He played a nice role in helping Detroit eliminate Toronto three games to one to win the Stanley Cup that spring!
Misfortune struck Young in 1936-37 when in his 11th game of the season he was checked hard into the boards and fractured his leg. He was out for the season and the playoffs and never was the same again. Yet his Red Wings repeated as Stanley Cup champions, technically with Young still as captain.
Young wasn't sharp in 1937-38 and the Wings plummeted to the basement of the American Division. In 1938-39 he wasn't much better.
Jack Adams sold him to the Montreal Canadiens where his experience wasn't enough to keep the Habs out of last place. He wasn't up to form, and when manager Tommy Gorman brought in younger players, after 3 games with the Habs, Young was farmed out to Providence of the AHL. He had a good year with 9 goals and 22 points, then retired after the 1940-41 season.