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July 25, 2014

1936-37: Howie Morenz Dies

The Three Stars

Howie Morenz Dies - Recently reacquired by the Montreal Canadiens and reunited with old teammates Aurel Joliat and Johnny Gagnon, the great Howie Morenz finds new life in his 34 year old legs. But his return to greatness is halted on January 28th, 1937 when he suffers four broke bones in his left leg and ankle. Chicago's star defender Earl Seibert slammed him into the boards, albeit cleanly. Morenz suffers a nervous breakdown while in Montreal hospital and dies on March 8th of pulmonary embolism, though legend always had it he died of a broken heart when told he would never play hockey again. Thousands of fans file past Morenz's body which laid in state at center ice of the Montreal Forum. Up to 200,000 people lined the streets of Montreal to watch the funeral procession.

Chicago's All American Experiment Fails - Chicago's sometimes eccentric owner Major Frederic McLaughlin wanted to "throw off the traditional Canadian influence over this game" and ice a team of all Americans. Maybe doable today, but not so much in the 1930s. The Hawks end up using a total of nine USA born players that season, but miss the playoffs.

Goodbye and Hello - Besides Morenz, the NHL lost a number of big name attractions, although thankfully the rest were due to retirement. King Clancy, Joe Primeau, Shrimp Worters, Alex Connell, George Hainsworth and Lorne Chabot all exited. But a new crop of outstanding rookies entered, including Turk Broda, Syl Apps and Gordie Drillon in Toronto and Boston's famed Kraut Line of Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer.

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