March 10, 2015

George "Shorty" Horne

George "Shorty" Horne, all of 5'6" of him, grew up in Sudbury, Ontario where his parents ran the local hardware store. When he wasn't in school or helping at the shop, little George, the youngest of seven children, could be found playing hockey on nearby Ramsay Lake.

By 1920 he was a junior star in Sudbury, playing for the Wolves. Later he headed to North Bay to play for the Trappers and he emerged as one of the top young players in all of Ontario. And the pro scouts took note.

But Horne turned down pro offers and played the 1924-25 season as a senior player with the Grimsby Peach Kings. He led Grimsby to a surprising upset of Sault Ste. Marie in the Allan Cup playoffs.

The pros came back, and the Montreal Maroons offered Shorty a deal he could not turn down. He signed with the now-defunct NHL team in October, 1925.

The Maroons would win the Stanley Cup that season, but in many ways it was a lost season for Horne. He only got into 13 games, and even then was a substitute at best. He missed many games do an illness. Time seems to have forgotten what the illness was, but it seems not have been a hockey related injury.

Shorty returned to Montreal the next season but after two games he and Toots Holway were assigned to the Stratford Nationals of the Can-Pro league. He would actually finish that vagabond season in Niagara Falls.

Horne returned to Stratford for the 1927-28 season and re-emerged as a star, scoring 32 goals in 40 games. He did all this while apparently working in a garage and writing a weekly newspaper column! He worked the summers as a forest fire ranger.

Stratford would win the Can-Pro league championship that season, but would relocate to Buffalo to become the Bisons the following season.

Horne did not move to Boston because the NHL came back knocking. The Toronto Maples Leafs secured his rights from the Maroons for the 1928-29 season. He scored 9 goals and 12 points in 39 games, and was lauded by teammate Hap Day as a promising youngster.

The 25 year old returned hom for the summer and got a job assessing some mining claims in northern Ontario. Horne and three others headed off in a canoe on Lake Sagatosky only to be surprised by a big storm. The boat capsized, forcing the foursome to attempt to swim to safety. The other three made it, but Horne vanished.

His body resurfaced later as search crews were trying to find him. A float plane returned his body home, landing on Ramsay Lake, the same lake where he grew up playing hockey as a kid.

Horne was buried in Sudbury. Many of the Leafs, including Hap Day, Conn Smythe, Red Horner and Ace Bailey attended his funeral.

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