Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Goaltender Cecil "Tiny" Thompson, born on this date in 1903, was the oldest of the two Thompson brothers, arriving three years before his brother Paul, who played left wing.
His nickname "Tiny", acquired when he was still a teenager, was in jest, as he was the tallest player on the team at 5' 10".
Thompson's junior career began with the Calgary Monarchs in the 1919-20 season at the age of 16. As a 17-year-old, he played for the Calgary Pacific Grain club in the Calgary City Senior Hockey League. Back in junior hockey for 1921-22, he tended goal for the Bellevue Colts of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and remained in Bellevue for the next two seasons with the Bellevue Bulldogs of the Alberta Senior Hockey League.
The 1919-20 Calgary Monarchs
He moved to the United States to compete for the Duluth Hornets in the United States Amateur Hockey Association in 1924-25 before relocating a couple hours south to Minneapolis for the next three seasons to play for the Minneapolis Millers in the now renamed American Hockey Association. Thompson caught the eye of the NHL with his 1927-28 season with a stellar 28-7-5 record and a 1.23 goals against average.
His contract was purchased by Boston Bruins manager Art Ross, who had never actually seen Thompson play in person! He rewarded the Bruins faith with a 1-0 shutout in his first game as a Bruin in 1928. He played in all 44 of the Bruins games, winning 26, including 12 by shutout on his way to a 1.15 GAA. During the playoffs, Thompson recorded three shutouts in five games and allowed only three goals as the Bruins swept their way to the Stanley Cup title. When the Bruins reached the finals against the New York Rangers and Tiny's brother Paul, it was the first time that two siblings had met in the playoffs, something that would not happen again until the Esposito brothers 40 years later.
The Stanley Cup champion 1928-29 Boston Bruins
Scoring went up in the 1929-30 season when league rules were amended to allow for forward passing. While Thompson's GAA rose to 2.19 as a result of the more wide open game, he allowed the fewest goals of any netminder, earning him the first of his Vezina Trophies on his way to a stellar 38-5-1 record.
For the third consecutive season, Thompson played in all 44 of the Bruins games, winning 28 and lowering his GAA to under 2.00 again at 1.98. He was also involved in a unique strategy decision during that seasons playoffs, when, for the very first time in league history, Ross pulled Thompson late in Game 2 of the semifinals in favor of an extra attacker, instantly becoming a regular part of any coaches playbook.
The club had a down year in 1931-32, as they missed the playoffs and Thompson had his consecutive games streak stopped when he only played in 43 of the Bruins 48 games of the newly expanded schedule.
Thompson rebounded in 1932-33, winning 25 games and beginning a new streak of playing in every game, setting a career high with 48. His 1.76 GAA earned him his second Vezina Trophy while his most memorable game of the season came in the playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs, when the game moved to overtime tied at 0-0.
The extra time went on and on, finally reaching a sixth overtime when Ken Doraty of the Maple Leafs intercepted a pass and scored on Thompson after 104:46 of additional time in what was the longest game in NHL history at the time and is still the second longest game ever. The loss eliminated the Bruins from the playoffs and earned Thompson a standing ovation from the hockey-savvy Maple Leafs fans.
Three seasons later in 1935-36, Thompson set a new personal best GAA of the modern era at 1.68 on his way to this third Vezina Trophy and also became the first goaltender to ever be credited with an assist by intentionally passing the puck with his stick to a teammate.
The 1937-38 season again saw Thompson play in all 48 of the Bruins games, his sixth consecutive season playing each and every Bruins game. He won 30 or more games for only the second time in his career with a 30-11-7 record, which included 7 shutouts on his way to a 1.80 GAA and a fourth Vezina Trophy, the first man to ever win four.
With Thompson now 35 years old and future hall of famer Frank Brimsek waiting in the wings, Thompson was traded after five games of the 1938-39 season to the Detroit Red Wings. Thompson played in 39 games for Detroit that season and 46 the following season before retiring following the 1939-40 season.
He finished his NHL career with 553 games played, 284 wins, 194 losses, 75 ties, 81 shutouts, which was second all-time when he retired, a career GAA of 2.08, four Vezina Trophies and one Stanley Cup, won back in his rookie season of 1928-29.
Thompson was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959.
Today's featured jersey is a 1932-33 Boston Bruins Tiny Thompson jersey. This was the first season for this style Bruins jersey after eight seasons with their original logo, which pictured a bear. The Bruins were still using their original colors of brown and yellow, which came from the club's original owner Charles Adams' grocery store chain, First National Stores.
This style, worn during the second of Thompson's four Vezina Trophy winning seasons, was used for two seasons until the club's permanent change to the colors black and yellow in 1934-35.