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January 03, 2016

Eddie Wares

Eddie Wares was a versatile hockey player out of Calgary, Alberta. For most of his 321 career NHL games Wares was often listed as a defenseman but the lightning quick skater also played a lot of right wing.

In fact, Wares skated on a Detroit line with "Count" Grosso and the great Sid Abel on the long forgotten Liniment Line in the early 1940s. Not long after that Abel would find a new right winger with a newcomer named Gordie Howe.

It turns out that Wares was not only versatile on the ice, but off of it, too. He was a track and field star, too. In fact he represented Canada at the 1934 British Empire Games, competing in discus, javelin and shotput, winning the gold medal.

Upon his return home to Calgary he was almost set to focus on track and field training for the 1936 Olympics but the New York Rangers came offering money to turn pro with them.

"I have to make a living," he said. After all, this was the 1930s and the Great Depression was in full swing.

Wares would only play two games with the Rangers, scoring two goals even. But he spent the rest of his first three pro seasons playing in the minor leagues before being traded to Detroit.

Wares had a spectacular debut with the Wings, scoring late game winning goals in each of his first two games in Detroit. Such a debut led to promises of future stardom from Wings coach Jack Adams.

Wares may be best remembered for his role in Detroit's feud with a referee named Mel Harwood during the infamous 1942 Stanley Cup final. The Wings, of course, blew a 3-0 series lead only to lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Wings first started coming undone when Wares began arguing with Harwood before a faceoff. Much to the Wings' disbelief Wares was assessed a 10 minute misconduct and banished to the penalty box.

Harwood quickly followed that up with an earned "too many men on the ice" penalty, served by Grosso. But when Grosso said something to Harwood while skating to the penalty box, he, too, was assessed a 10 minute misconduct.

This led to one of the most bizarre scenes in Stanley Cup playoff history. At the conclusion of the game Detroit coach Jack Adams accosted Harwood on the ice as both teams were exiting to the dressing room. Next thing you know Adams and Harwood are exchanging blows. Soon enough Grosso and some fans were attempting to get their licks in, too. Harwood had to escorted off the ice and away from the rink by the police.

Wares was asked about the incident after the game, when he reportedly said "You know what's going to happen, don't you? It's going to go seven games."

It did. And unthinkably the Wings lost.

Fortunately for Wares, he returned in 1943 with the Wings and saved some face by winning the Stanley Cup by defeating the Boston Bruins.

Wares was committed to military service from 1943 until 1945. He returned to play two seasons with Chicago before disappearing to the minor leagues.

Wares would settle in British Columbia where he played and coach in Victoria and Nelson. He later returned to his native Calgary where he lived until his passing in 1992.

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