August 08, 2013

Dolly Swift

Once upon a time the world of hockey had a healthy infatuation with nicknames. The best are always the handles that permanently replace the player's given name. Cylone Taylor. Newsy Lalonde. Toe Blake. Rocket Richard. Boom Boom Geoffrion. King Clancy. Happy Day. Gump Worsley.

Oh those were the glory days of ice monikers. 

But which player was the earliest to be known by his nickname? 

The answer would appear to be Arthur "Dolly" Swift, an outstanding player who starred in Quebec from 1880 through 1899. The sporadic statistics also hint he played at least one season in Montreal. He later became a Brigadier general in the Canadian Army in World War 1.

I have no idea why he was dubbed Dolly, but he was one of the top players pre-1900. SIHR's database has him scoring 56 goals in 62 games. Now statistics from that time period are sporadic and incomplete at best, but that would place him right near the top of scoring leaders for that time period. Some sources claim he is the top scorer of the 1890s.

Swift was also memorable for his ongoing feud with Ottawa's Weldy Young. It was one of the earliest player feuds recorded in print. There is even a story - be in factual or fictional I do not know - that Dolly was so convinced that Young was faking an injury in order to draw a penalty that he doused the fallen Young with a bucket of water!

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