Quick Fact of the Day

Howie Morenz

There would have been no NHL in New York if it wasn’t for one man.

His name is Howie Morenz.

The Babe Ruth of hockey was one of the greatest players of his time and he deserves way more recognition then he currently receives. King Clancy, who played against Morenz, once said this about him.

“Morenz was the greatest I ever saw. He was as fast as a bullet and had a shot to match. He could stop on a dime and give you five cents change. The first time I played against him he sifted right through the Ottawa defense and scored. I said to him, ‘Kid, you do that again and I’ll cut your legs off.’ He said to me, ‘Clancy, I’ll be right back.’ Seconds later, there he was again, cutting right between my partner and me and scoring again. I couldn’t believe the little bugger could move that fast.” (Brian McFarlane)

The story of New York accepting hockey happened in the twenties when the Big Apple was North America’s sporting capital. However, neither hockey nor its biggest stars had any part to do with that recognition.

Madison Square Garden was being built at the time by promoter Tex Rickard, who had no reason to install machinery for making artificial ice. Then along came entrepreneur and hockey fanatic Tom Duggan. Duggan knew that having an NHL franchise in New York would do wonders for success of hockey in the States, but he had to convince Rickard that.

MSG

Duggan persuaded Rickard to go with him to Montreal, where Morenz was playing. Rickard, who was accompanied by famous columnist Damon Runyon, made the trip to Canada and both of them were thrilled by the showing Morenz and his Canadiens put forth.

Rickard quickly returned to New York and ordered his architects to add an ice-making facility to the new arena.

When the New York Americans made their NHL debut at the new Madison Square Garden in 1925, they hosted none other then the Montreal Canadiens. The home team, decked out in their star-spangled jerseys, and its fans were overwhelmed by the speed and finesse of these hockey players, most notably the superstar Howie Morenz.

If Morenz was not as equally spectacular a few months earlier when Rickard and Runyon came to watch him play, then it would have been a game that might never have happened in New York.

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