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May 08, 2015

Gerry Lowrey

Hockey fans in the state of Pennsylvania will tell you that the most heated rivalry on ice is between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. And it has been that way ever since the Penguins and Flyers entered the National Hockey League in the first wave of expansion back in 1967.

But did you know both cities had teams back around the start of the Great Depression?

Pittsburgh had a NHL team from 1925 through 1930. Proving that they were not the most original bunch, they named their team the Pirates - the same name, of course, as the famous baseball team. For some reason they chose not to keep alive the name of the city's first hockey team - the Yellow Jackets had been playing out of the Duquesne Arena since 1915.

The Pirates were not very successful on the ice. Or off of it. And as the stock market crashed so did the fortunes of many sports teams. In an effort to save the franchise the team was relocated in 1930.

To Philadelphia, of all places.

That's right. Philadelphia's first ever NHL team - the Quakers - were actually relocated Pittsburghers!

The team did not do much better in Philly. Not only did they finish dead last in the standings, but they only won four games in the entire 44 game schedule. The financially troubled franchise collapsed completely after just one season in Philadelphia. NHL hockey fans in Pennsylvania would have to wait another 46 years to see a game.

Gerry Lowrey, also known as Jerry, played for both the Pirates and the Quakers back then. Despite the challenges he enjoyed his time in Pennsylvania.

"It was a lot of fun," he said years later in a 1975 interview with the Ottawa Journal. "We weren't going anywhere and we knew it so we could relax around a little bit. And we didn't draw at home but we drew well enough on the road."

Lowrey also commented on the somewhat suspicious franchise relocation.

"We were owned by Big Bill Dwyer, who also owned the New York Americans, and when we switched over from Pittsburgh, and the year before he took some of our best players. Lionel Conacher. The goalie Roy Worters."

Gerry Lowrey is of the famous Ottawa Lowrey hockey clan from turn-of-the-20th-century era. All of his six brothers were notable hockey players in the region, with older brothers Eddie and Fred - universally hailed as Frock - also making it to the National Hockey League.

Lowrey left the University of Ottawa in 1922 and pursue a career in professional hockey. By 1927-28 he was in the NHL, playing two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

By the end of the second season he was moved to Pittsburgh (traded for Baldy Cotton plus cash), staying their until the franchise's aforementioned demise in 1931.

Described as a good stickhandler who was noted for battling for loose pucks in front of the net, he wound down his career with stops with the Chicago Blackhawks and with his hometown Ottawa Senators before disappearing to the minor and senior leagues.

Lowrey established Gerry Lowrey Ltd, a renovation company that specialized in roofing and insulation. He was active with the company, which still exists today, right up to the time of his death in 1979. He was 74 years old.

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