Saturday, January 14, 2012
Brothers Odie Cleghorn and Sprague Cleghorn got their start in hockey playing in the Montreal City Hockey League in the 1908-09 season and then the pair joined the New York Wanderers of the United States Amateur Hockey Association the following season. Their performances, particularly that of Odie, who scored 15 goals in 8 games while Sprague had 7, drew the attention of a certain J. Ambrose O'Brien, who was bound and determined to win himself a Stanley Cup, and did so by hiring the very best that money could buy, dramatically overpaying a roster of players which became known as the Renfrew Millionaires.
The Cleghorn's were members of Renfrew for their second and final season of 1910-11, with Odie leading the way with 20 goals in 18 games while the rugged Sprague contributed 5 while anchoring the club's defense.
Sprague and Odie Cleghorn of the Renfrew Millionaires
With the Millionaires disbanded due to the realities of their untenable financial situation, the brothers returned home to Montreal to join the powerful Wanderers hockey club. The pair skated for the Wanderers for six seasons, from 1911-12 to 1916-17. Odie would score 115 goals in 103 games, with a high of 28 in just 18 games of the 1916-17 season, while Sprague was able to play enough at forward during his time with the Wanderers to score 79 goals, including a best of 21 in 1914-15, tying Odie for the year.
After missing the 1917-18 season due to World War I, a season which saw the Wanderers disband following the fire which burned their arena to the ground, the pair went their separate ways for 1918-19, with right winger Odie staying in Montreal, only now with the Canadiens, while his bodyguard Sprague joined the Ottawa Senators.
Sprague in the Senators barberpole sweater
Sprague played two seasons in Ottawa, racking up 16 goals in 21 games in 1919-20, as well as 85 penalty minutes in 21 games, a testament to his rough, if not downright dirty play. The Senators won the 1920 Stanley Cup by defeating the Seattle Metropolitans for the first championship for either brother. Sprague played the 1920-21 season with the Toronto St. Patricks, but After the St. Pats were eliminated from the playoffs, Sprague rejoined the Senators as a ringer for their five game series against the Vancouver Millionaires for the Stanley Cup, won by the Senators three games to two before he finally rejoined Odie with the Canadiens for the 1921-22 season.
Sprague while with the Toronto St. Patricks
Meanwhile, Odie had an excellent season in 1918-19 with 29 points (second in the NHL) and avoided tragedy while in Seattle for the 1919 Stanley Cup playoff against the Metropolitans when the series was permanently suspended due to an outbreak of the Influenza Epidemic, which claimed the life of teammate Bad Joe Hall.
Sprague rejoined his brother for the 1921-22 season when he returned to Montreal, now as a member of the Canadiens as well. Energized by his brother's return, Odie saw his goal total rise to 21, after being limited to just 5 the prior year. Sprague was also returned to playing forward after being a defenseman with the St. Pats, which saw his goal scoring rise to 17 from just 3 the previous season. As his brother's protector, Sprague saw his penalty minute total rise from 31 to 80 to lead the NHL for the season, far ahead of Corbett Denneny of Toronto's mere 28!
As part of their return to goal scoring prominence, history was made on this date in 1922 when the Canadiens met the Hamilton Tigers in Montreal. Sprague opened the scoring with a goal at 4 minutes of the first period, with Odie adding a second Montreal goal, with an assist from Sprague, at the 5:20 mark. The clubs then traded goals to close out the first period 3-1 for Montreal.
In the second period, Sprague took just 40 seconds to get his second of the game and completed his hat trick less than five minutes later to make the score 5-2 for Montreal. Odie's second arrived at the 13 minute mark and the teams again traded goals to finish out the period, with the Canadiens holding a commanding 7-3 lead.
The third period was more of the same, as Sprague once again came out flying, netting his fourth of the night at just 30 seconds. At 7 minutes, Odie's hat trick was now complete with a an assist from Sprauge once again. Joe Malone got his second of the game for the Tigers before Odie put the brothers into the record books with his fourth to match Sprague's total at 9:05, the first time two brothers had scored four goals each while members of the same team. Hamilton added two quick goals to make the final score 10-6 in favor of the Montreal and the Cleghorn's, led by Sprague's 4 goals and 6 points and Odie's 4 goals.
Two seasons later, Montreal would defeat the Senators for the NHL championship, then dispatched the Vancouver Maroons in two straight before sweeping the Calgary Tigers for the 1924 Stanley Cup championship, the only time the brothers would win one together. It was Sprague's third and Odie's first.
The 1924 World Champion Montreal Canadiens
They would play one more season together with Montreal before Oide finished his career by becoming coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates, which included occasionally playing in parts of three more seasons, while Sprague took his defensive abilities and rough play to the Boston Bruins for three seasons to end his NHL career.
Odie and Sprague during their final season in Montreal wearing their 1924-25 World's Champions sweaters
Odie played 17 NHA & NHL seasons, scoring 230 goals and 282 points in 300 games, winning one Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Sprague, who also played 17 NHA & NHL seasons, scored 167 goals and 255 points in 374 games.
Sadly, Sprague was hit by a car in 1956 and died of his injuries on July 12th at the age of 66. Just hours before Sprague's funeral two days later on the 14th, Odie was found dead in his bed from heart failure at the age of 64.
Sprague was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.
Today's featured jersey is a 1923-24 Montreal Canadiens Sprague Cleghorn jersey. This sweater with the white "C" and red "H" was a short-lived variation, used only two seasons in 1922-23 and their Stanley Cup winning season of 1923-24. It was replaced by their commemorative World's Champions sweaters with the globe logo pictured above, while retaining the white "C" logo on the left arm for one season. In 1925-26 the "C" became red with a white outline and white "H", and with the addition of a second outline in blue in 1935, has remained unchanged ever since.
Today's video is a tribute to the 24 Stanley Cups won by le Club de hockey Canadien, the second of which included the brothers Cleghorn.