May 01, 2015

Johnny Shepard

Frank and Johnny Shepard (also known as Sheppard) made history when they both suited up for the Detroit Cougars in 1927-28 season. They became the first of 15 sets of brothers to play for the Red Wings (originally known as Cougars then Falcons).

The boys were born in Montreal but moved to Selkirk, Manitoba in when John was 8 after their parents had died in a house fire. They found solace on the ice, each starring for the Selkirk Fishermen.

Frank went onto play 8 games in the NHL in an otherwise impressive minor league career. But Johnny enjoyed a lengthy NHL career, playing over 300 games in the late 1920s and early 1930s, mostly with the New York Americans. Four times he scored 10 or more goals in seven seasons in the era of 44 game schedule.

Described as a hard working and aggressive though clean hustler. He contributed nicely on offense, scoring 68 career goals and 126 points in 308 games. He actually led Detroit in goals, assists, points and penalty minutes in their inaugural season.

As an interesting trivia note he scored the very first goal ever scored in the Detroit Olympia arena, beating Ottawa's Alex Connell on November 27th 1927.

Prior to joining the NHL in 1926, Johnny, who worked the off-seasons as a fur trapper, played four seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Canada Hockey League. That was a western major league that challenged the eastern based NHL for player services and the Stanley Cup.

He later tried his hand at coaching, guiding the Coleman Canadians and, for just one season, the Trail Smoke Eaters.

In 1969, at the age of 67, Johnny Shepard passed away in a row boat accident off of Bowen Island in British Columbia's beautiful Strait of Juan de Fuca. Investigators confirmed he had been drinking heavily.

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