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September 14, 2015

Bert McCaffrey

Bert McCaffrey was the ultimate substitute player back in the 1920s. He could - and did - play any position equally well. Though he was primarily a right winger, he also played stretches on defense.

McCaffrey had a very long and very storied career. From 1916 through 1923 he was a Senior hockey star in Toronto. He was a member of two Allan Cups in 1922 and 1923, and then went to the Olympics with the University Granites in 1924. Canada easily won gold, thanks to the big line of McCaffrey, Harry Watson and Hooly Smith. That line scored an amazing 74 goals in just five Olympic contests. McCaffrey alone scored 21!

McCaffrey joined the NHL in 1924 with Toronto as a 31 year old rookie - which instantly made him one of the oldest players in the NHL at that time. He would switch to defense by the 1926-27 season.

By 1928 he was playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and by 1930 he was helping the Montreal Canadiens win a Stanley Cup.

Bert McCaffrey retired from pro hockey by 1933. In 260 NHL contests he 42 goals and 72 points - not bad for a part time forward who seemed to play more defense as he aged. When he left the NHL he was 37 - an almost unthinkable age to still be playing back in those days.

Described as "speedy" and "burly," McCaffrey was on the verge of tears when he played his final game with the Montreal Canadiens. Newspaper reports said he was very touched by the club's gift of a "a purse" in front of his teammates. He was also given a new suit.

Perhaps McCaffrey wore the suit during his return to the NHL as a referee.

Bert McCaffrey passed away on April 15th, 1955. He was 62 years old.

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