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March 25, 2016

John Crawford

John Crawford can claim to be the only player in the National Hockey League history from Dublin.

But he was not born in Dublin, Ireland. No he was born in Dublin, Ontario back in 1916. Nowadays Dublin is just one of a few small communities that make up what is now known as West Perth, Ontario.

But his unusual birthplace is not John Crawford's main claim to fame. Crawford was one of the earliest players ever to wear a helmet. Crawford, who played 548 career NHL games with Boston in the 1940s, donned a leather football-like contraption on his head. But he did not wear it for protection. He wore it because he was trying to hide his balding head.

John - the media usually called him Jack despite his wishes to drop that moniker - was a big, burly linebacker on the blue line. As a youth he actually was as good if not better at football, but hockey proved to be his destiny.

Once touted as the next Eddie Shore, Crawford spent 12 seasons in Boston. The next Eddie Shore he was not, but he was a solid bodychecker who could rush the puck from time to time. He may have lacked Shore's fire, but he was a steady performer night in and night out. He rarely took penalties.

After retiring as a player in 1952, he went on to become a successful coach and manager at the American Hockey League level.

John Crawford suffered a fatal heart attack on January 19th, 1973. He was just 56 years old.

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