Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Born on this date in 1888, Jack Walker grew up and began playing hockey in Port Arthur, Ontario. His first team was the Port Arthur East Greys of the New Ontario Hockey League in 1905-06. After one more season with the East Greys, Walker joined the Port Arthur Lake City club in the same NOHL for the 1907-08 season.
A forward, Walker started slowly with 3 goals in 6 games his first season with Lake City, a total which increased to 8 goals in 12 games the following season before he found his game with 20 goals in 12 games in 1909-10 and added one and a half times that many in 1910-11 with 30 goals in 14 contests while leading the team to their second consecutive league championship. Following the season he got his first taste of Stanley Cup competition when Port Arthur challenged the Ottawa Hockey Club in a single elimination game, which the famed Silver Seven won handily 13-4, with Walker scoring one of the goals for Port Arthur.
Walker played one final season for Lake City with 17 more goals before attracting attention from the growing professional leagues of the east. He began the 1912-13 season with the brand new Toronto Blueshirts (who would eventually become the Maple Leafs in 1927) of the National Hockey Association, but left for the defending league champion Moncton Victorias of the Maritime Professional Hockey League after just a single game in Toronto. With the Victorias, Walker totaled 21 goals in 15 games, which proved to be the final season for Moncton, and Walker rejoined Toronto for the 1913-14 season.
It proved to be a shrewd move, as Toronto tied for first place in the NHA with a 13-7 record and defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 in a two game series to earn the right to challenge for the Stanley Cup, taking on the Victoria Aristocrats of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in a best-of-five series. Toronto won all three contests to sweep the series and earn Walker his first Stanley Cup as well as a bonus of $297.
1914 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Blueshirts
He returned to the Blueshirts for the 1914-15 season, in which he scored a dozen goals in 19 games. The rivalry between the NHA and PCHL was in full swing at this point, and Frank and Lester Patrick signed all but one of the Blueshirts to stock the roster of the newly created Seattle Metropolitains PCHL franchise, which included Walker.
During his second season with Seattle of 1916-17, the club would win the PCHL title with a 16-8 record which earned them the right to compete for the Stanley Cup against the Montreal Canadiens of the NHA. Montreal won Game 1 by a score of 8-4 before Seattle's defense dug in, allowing just one goal in each of the three remaining games easily by scores of 6-1, 4-1 and finally a 9-1 blowout to become the first American club to win the Stanley Cup, the second of Walker's career. The Seattle Daily Time wrote "The lexicon of sport does not contain language adequate to describe the fervor of the fans." following the Metropolitans victory.
The 1916-17 Stanley Cup champion Seattle Metropolitans
Two seasons later Walker and the Metropolitains would again advance to the Stanley Cup Finals by defeating the Vancouver Millionaires in the PCHA playoffs. Seattle once again found the same Montreal Canadiens as their opponents, who they demolished 7-0 in Game 1. Montreal rebounded with a 4-2 win in Game 2 but Seattle responded with another strong performance with a 7-2 win in Game 3. Game 4 ended in a scoreless tie and then the Canadiens eked out a 4-3 win at 15:57 of overtime to even the series at 2-2-1 heading into Game 5. Only Game 5 was never played, as several of the Canadiens were admitted to the hospital feeling the effects of the influenza epidemic, which had arrived on Canada's west coast, causing the game to be cancelled and the series permanently suspended. After spending nine days in the hospital, Bad Joe Hall of Montreal died of his illness.
The Stanley Cup engraving for 1919 reads "Series not Completed"
Seattle won the PCHA regular season and playoffs again in 1919-20 to make the Metropolitains third Stanley Cup appearance. This time they traveled east to face the Ottawa Senators, where they lost the first two games of the best-of-five series before winning Game 3 on the slushy ice in Ottawa, where the arena did not have the capability to make artificial ice. The series moved to Toronto where the Metropolitans forced a deciding Game 5 with a 5-2 win to even the series at 2 games each. The Senators denied Walker another cup with a 6-1 victory to close out the series.
In all, Walker would play all nine seasons of the Metropolitans seasons from 1915-16 to 1923-24, which included five first place finishes and three league playoff championships and one Stanley Cup. While with Seattle, Walker would play in 186 games and score 82 goals with a high of 18 in his final season with the club on his way to leading them in scoring with 23 total points. He would finish as the third leading scorer in Metropolitans history despite being better known for his aggressive defensive play.
With the Metropolitans, as well as the PCHA, no longer in business, Walker signed with the Victoria Cougars, who had moved from the PCHA to the Western Canada Hockey League. While the Cougars had a moderately successful regular season, finishing third with a 16-12 record, they defeated Saskatoon on the league semifinals before defeating the Calgary Tigers 3 goals to 1 in the finals. Their playoff run continued as they now faced the Canadiens, who by now had joined the new National Hockey League. Games 1 and 2 went to Victoria 5-2 and 3-1 before Montreal stayed alive in their best-of-five with a 4-2 win in Game 3. Victoria then became the final team outside of the NHL to win the Stanley Cup when they dominated Game 4 by a score of 6-1 to earn Walker his third Stanley Cup with his third different team as a member of three different leagues, still one of only ten men to ever with the cup with three different clubs, along with teammate and goaltender Hap Holmes who was with him for all three.
The 1924-25 Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars
Walker would play one more season with the Cougars in Victoria for the 1925-26 season before the roster was sold to interests in Detroit who were starting up a new NHL franchise for the 1926-27 season. In honor of their roster coming from the Victoria Cougars, the new Detroit ownership named their new club the Detroit Cougars. After enjoying nine years of stability with the Metropolitans, Walker was now playing for his third different club in his third different league in four seasons.
He played two seasons in Detroit and then returned to Seattle, where a new club, the Seattle Eskimos of the brand new Pacific Coast Hockey League was just beginning. The team and league lasted three seasons, with Walker competing in all three and earning the league's MVP trophy.
He spent two more seasons coaching and occasionally playing in a league in California to wind down his career, which spanned over 25 years and saw hockey grow from it's amateur days, to the beginnings of professionalism, the expansion to the west and formation of the NHL and it's expansion into the United States., While Walker only played 80 games in the NHL, his career was a long and successful one, which saw him win three Stanley Cups and gain induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1960.
Today's featured jersey is a 1924-25 Victoria Cougars Jack Walker jersey. The Cougars began life in 1911 original members of the Patrick's PCHL. Two seasons later they adopted the name Aristocrats until 1916. With the outbreak of World War I, their arena was taken over by the Canadian military, which forced a move to Spokane, Washington as the Canaries for a year, after which the club folded.
The franchise was revived in 1918 as the Aristocrats and once again changed their name, this time to the Cougars in 1922 for their final four seasons, during which they became the final team not a member of the NHL to win the Stanley Cup.