Thursday, March 17, 2011
Francis Michael "King" Clancy was born in 1903 and played 16 seasons in the NHL from 1921 to 1937.
Clancy entered the NHL in 1921 playing for his hometown Ottawa Senators. His rugged style would earn him a reputation for heart and effort despite his small stature, as he was five feet seven inches and just 155 pounds. His outgoing personality off the ice combined to make him a fan favorite.
In only his second season, the Senators would win the NHL championship and face off against first the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champions the Vancouver Maroons, who they defeated 3 games to 1 to advance to face the Edmonton Eskimos, champions of the West Coast Hockey League. Game 1 would go to Ottawa 2-1 before the teams would meet again on March 31, 1923. Clancy, normally a defenseman, would set a record by by playing each position on the ice, including two minutes in goal when the regular Senators goaltender Clint Benedict served a penalty! It remains the only time that a player has played in all six positions in a Stanley Cup Final game. The Senators would go on to win the game 1-0 and capture the cup that day.
Four years later the Senators would capture the second cup of Clancy's career when they defeated the Boston Bruins 2 games to none, although there were a pair of ties between the clubs as well.
For the first eight seasons of Clancy's career, he would average 14 points a season with a high of 21, but in 1929-30, Clancy would rack up 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points in 44 games, by far the most productive offensive season of his career, as he would never even reach 30 in any other season.
Before the following season, Clancy was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for $35,000 and two players. Once in Toronto, Clancy would endear himself to the fans in Toronto with his enthusiasm, effort and out going personality.
He would capture the third and final Stanley Cup of his playing career when the Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers 3 games to none, with Game 1 in New York and Game 2 moved to Boston due to the circus being in town! Game 3 was played in Toronto where the Maple Leafs wrapped up the series at home.
Clancy's playing career would last five more seasons before he retired just six games into the start of a sixth. His final NHL totals would be 136 goals and 147 assists for 283 points and 914 penalty minutes.
After his second career as a referee, he began the third phase of his hockey life, moving into coaching in 1949 until 1956, including winning the Calder Cup when with the Pittsburgh Hornets of the American Hockey League. After moving into the front office following his coaching career, Clancy would eventually be named vice-president of the Maple Leafs.
Clancy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958 and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy was named in his honor in 1987 to award the player who demonstrates leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made exceptional humanitarian contributions in the community.
Today's featured jersey is perhaps the most unique one ever on Third String Goalie, a 1934 Toronto Maple Leafs St. Patrick's Day King Clancy jersey. Clancy was given this unique jersey to wear on "Clancy Night" on this day, St. Patrick's Day, in 1934 to celebrate his contributions to the Maple Leafs.
Uniquely, Clancy was the only player to wear this style jersey in the game while the rest of the Maple Leafs wore their traditional blue jerseys!
Clancy himself recalls the game and his unique sweater, "It was March 17, 1934, and it was King Clancy Night in Maple Leaf Gardens and they had me all dressed in green. Stockings, boots, uniform, stick, everything. It was Conn Smythe's idea, and I was a real sickly sight. We were playing the Rangers, and the first time he saw me when I came past the New York bench, Lester Patrick said, "My God, Clancy, what's this?" I think it was the only time I'd ever heard Lester utter a profanity. The effect of my outfit on the Rangers was amazing. They just sort looked at me and gagged, and for the entire first period not one of them came near me.
"I was having a field day on defense, and when the period was over Lester came to me and whispered, "King, what are you doing to me? My boys won't go anywhere near you, and you've got the whole building upset. You look awful. Come on now, King, how about taking that ridiculous uniform of so we can play hockey?"
"I just grinned and nodded, but to tell you the truth I did feel a little embarrassed, so I changed between periods. But really I changed out of respect for Lester. We won the game anyway."
This special green jersey features a shamrock on the back in place of Clancy's usual #7 and was worn during the first period of the game that night before protests by the New York Rangers apparently humorless Lester Patrick forced Clancy back into his more familiar blue and white Maple Leafs jersey for the remainder of the game, which was won by Toronto 3-2 in front of 11,000 adoring Clancy fans.
There is sadly little video online about King Clancy, but here is a look at the 1931-32 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs that Clancy was a member of. Notice the diminutive size of the cup at the time.
Today we're all Irish.