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April 17, 2018

The Best Of The Best

Let's face it - history is too often his story (or her story) story and, by nature and unintended or not, revisionist to some degree.

That's why I love just scrolling through newspaper archives and finding nuggets of information from the actual time period.

Take for example, this March 13th, 1934 poll of hockey writers conducted by the Canadian Press. I found it in the Montreal Gazette archives, sorry no link available). It gives us a clear picture of who was the best player at several attributes right then, right there, in real time.

Who was the fastest skater? (number in brackets is how many votes the player received)

Howie Morenz (10)
Busher Jackson (5)
Hec Kilrea (4)
Mush March (4)
Jimmy Ward (3)
Herbie Lewis (2)
John Sorrel (1)
Cecil Dillon (1)
Jerry Shannon (1)
Buzz Boll (1)
Georges Mantha (1)

Joe's take: This is the one category where we see a number of players mentioned. Morenz is the clear winner, but he has company. 

Who was the best stickhandler?

Aurel Joliat (17)
Johnny Gottselig (5)
Frank Boucher (4)
Joe Primeau (2)
Larry Aurie (2)
Bun Cook (1)
Nels Stewart (1)
Busher Jackson (1)
Ace Bailey (1)

Joe's take: My impressions of this era would have had named Frank Boucher or maybe Bun Cook, but Joliat is the clear winner here.

Who had the hardest shot?

Charlie Conacher (32)
Lionel Conacher (1)
Jimmy Ward (1)

Joe's take: No contest. We can see where Charlie Conacher's Big Bomber nickname came from.

What was the best line in hockey?

Jackson - Primeau - Conacher (28) (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Cook - Boucher - Cook (7) (New York Rangers)

Joe's take: Two of the greatest lines in hockey history.

Who is the best box office attraction?

Eddie Shore (24)
Toronto Maple Leafs (6)
New York Rangers (1)
Howie Morenz (1)
Aurel Joliat (1)

Joe's take: It is interesting that Eddie Shore gets no votes in any of the categories, but when it comes to the best box office attraction - which I interpret as hockey's superstar of superstars - he clearly wins. Of course, this was Shore's most infamous season, playing in only 30 games as he was suspended for his attack that ended the career of Ace Bailey.

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