Friday

Red Horner

Frank Boucher won the Lady Byng Trophy (most gentlemanly player) seven out of eight seasons and got to keep the trophy permanently.

If there ever will be an award for the most penalized player then it might as well be called the "Red Horner Trophy". Red was the most penalized player eight years in a row between 1932-40. He also was the most penalized player in the playoffs twice (1936 & 39) No other NHL player have ruled the penalty box more than three times in a row and four times in total. Reginald "Red" Horner's 167 minutes in 43 games 1935-36, stood as an NHL record for 20 years.

Red, who played his junior hockey in the OHA with the Toronto Marlboros, explained how he got to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

" I was playing hockey for two teams back then. The Marlboros played on Friday nights and I also played in a brokers league on Saturday afternoons - both at the old Mutual Street Arena. After a game one Sunday, Mr. Smythe (coach / GM Conn Smythe) approached me and said, ' Kid, enough with this amateur stuff; come play with us.' I'd only seen two pro games and I told him I'd have to speak to my parents first. A few days later, he picked me up at my parents' place in his Stern's Knight Roadster and took me down to the Mutual Street rink. He introduced me to the rest of the players and paid me $2, 500 for the balance of the season."

Red wasn't known for being overly aggressive as a junior but took on the role as a policeman on the Leafs team almost immediately. He said that it was never ordered by Conn Smythe but that it was merely understood.

" We had some smaller players on the team and someone had to protect them, " Red said, " I was that someone."

Red will always be remembered as the guy who was Eddie Shore's intended target when the nearly-tragic Ace Bailey incident occurred at Boston Garden on December 12, 1933.

Many years later Red remembered that night vividly. " Eddie (Shore) was a great defenseman but he wasn't having much luck against us that night. He repeatedly rushed the puck and we kept thwarting him at the blue line. After one particular rush, I sent him sprawling to the corner in our zone. Ace Bailey, my defense partner, stood at our blue line as the play moved back into the Boston end. Eddie mistook Ace for me and flipped him over backwards. Ace landed on the side of his head and began to convulse. This didn't sit well with me and I told Shore he couldn't get away with stuff like that. Then I punched his lights out. That was some kind of scene: Ace unconscious at one end of the ice, and Shore out cold at the other end. "

Ace Bailey underwent life-saving brain surgery and never played hockey again.

Red was a solid 6' and 190 Ibs (some sources suggest he was as big as 6'1" and 200 Ibs), which was an intimidating height and weight back then. He had many hard-fought battles with his opponents throughout the league. His most notable rivalries and battles were with Nels Stewart, Hooley Smith and Bill Cook.

Red made his NHL debut at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a 3-2 Leafs loss, on December 22, 1928. In only his second game, against the Montreal Maroons he broke his hand when Nels Stewart slashed him over the wrist. Red said that Iit kind of set the tone for the years which followed.

Red was not only a very tough player, he could play good hockey as well. In 1933-34 Red scored 11 goals, only Earl Seibert had more goals among the defensemen (13). And in 1937-38 he led all defensemen in assists (20) and points (24). His playmaking was very good and although he wasn't a graceful skater he could break as fast as anyone except the true speedballs like King Clancy and Howie Morenz. Red was also a fine leader and was Toronto's captain between 1938-40, an honor Red considered the highest of his playing career. He retired after the 1939-40 season.

Although Red was the "badman" of the NHL he received the highest honor in the game by being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965, which further underlines the fact that he was a very fine player.

Conn Smythe said of Red: "Because of his courage and color he was one of the best drawing cards in the league. Truly, he helped establish NHL as a popular attraction."

After retiring, Red founded the Canadian Coal Corporation, a business he remained with until 1972.

"When oil and gas came along, that spelled the end of the coal business but it sure was profitable for many years, " Red said.

Red Horner was one of the toughest players ever in the NHL, during an era when tough was REALLY tough.

2 comments:

reds grandson 9:59 PM  

he also played in the first and second all star games in the nhl,howie mourance and ace baliey benenfit games,was nhl side line ref for several years after retiring from the leafs.

reds grandson 10:05 PM  

Red Horner played in the first two NHL all star game benifits for Howie M and Ace B,later was line ref at leaf games after retiring,was the oldest remaining NHL player before his death at 94.

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