On January 2, 1929, the Boston Bruins boarded a night train to Montreal for a National Hockey League game there the following evening against the Montreal Maroons. As the train was pulling out of North Station, Art Ross, the Bruins' manager, walked through the Pullman sleeping car, counting the players. When Ross reached the last berth, he realized that one of them, Eddie Shore, was missing.
"Ross didn't know it," Shore said recently, "but I was then running down the platform trying to jump on the last car of the train. I didn't make it. I just missed the train because my taxi got tied up in a traffic accident coming across town."
Shore was determined to get to Montreal in time for the game. The Bruins were already shorthanded because of injuries, and Shore was well aware that Ross levied a $500 fine on any player who missed a road trip. Shore checked the train schedule and found that the next express to Montreal in the morning would not reach there until after the game had started. He learned that all the airline planes were grounded because of stormy weather. He was about to rent an automobile when a wealthy Boston friend offered to lend him a limousine with a chauffeur.
At 11:30 that night Shore and the chauffeur started the 350 mile drive over iced and snow-blocked New England mountain roads. It was sleeting, and in those days there were no paved express highways, no sanding trucks and no road patrols. The chauffeur drove very slowly through the storm. "I was not happy with the way he was driving," Shore said, "and I told him so. He apologized and said he didn't have chains and didn't like driving in the winter. The poor fellow urged me to turn back to Boston."
At that point the car skidded to the lip of a ditch. Shore took over at the wheel and drove to an all-night service station where he had tire chains put on. By then the sleet storm had thickened into a blizzard. Snow caked either side of the lone windshield wiper, and within minutes the wiper blade froze solid to the glass. "I couldn't see out of the window," says Shore, "so I removed the top half of the windshield."
His face was exposed to the blasts of the icy wind and snow but he managed to see the road. At about 5 A.M., in the mountains of New Hampshire, "We began losing traction. The tire chains had worn out."
Slowly, Shore eased the car around a bend in the road where he could see the lights of a construction camp flickering. He awakened a gas station attendant there, installed a new set of chains and weaved on. "We skidded off the road four times," he says, "but each time we managed to get the car back on the highway again."
The second pair of chains fell off at three the next afternoon. This time Shore stopped the car and ordered the chauffeur to take over the wheel. "I felt that a short nap would put me in good shape," he says. "All I asked of the driver was that he go at least twelve miles an hour and stay in the middle of the road."
But the moment Shore dozed off, the chauffeur lost control of the big car and it crashed into a deep ditch. Neither Shore nor the chauffeur nor the car suffered any damage so Shore hiked a mile to a farmhouse for help. "I paid $8 for a team of horses," says Shore, "harnessed the horses and pulled the car out of the ditch. We weren't too far from Montreal and I thought we'd make it in time if I could keep the car on the road."
He did and at 5:30 P.M. Shore drove up to the Windsor Hotel, the Bruins headquarters. He staggered into the lobby and nearly collapsed. "He was in no condition for hockey," says Ross. "His eyes were bloodshot, his face frostbitten and windburned, his fingers bent and set like claws after gripping the steering wheel so long. And he couldn't walk straight. I figured his legs were almost paralyzed from hitting the break and clutch."
Montreal's Windsor Hotel
Nevertheless, Shore ate a steak dinner, his first real meal in twenty-four hours, and refused the coach's orders to go to sleep. "I was tired all right," Shore says, "but I thought a twenty or thirty minute nap would be enough, then I'd be set to play."
An hour later Dit Clapper and Cooney Weiland of the Bruins entered Shore's room and shook him gently. Nothing happened. The rolled him over the bed and onto the floor. Still nothing happened. Weiland filled several glasses with water and poured them over Shore's face. This time he woke up and immediately insisted on playing.
Ross didn't want him to play. "I knew how durable he was," the coach says, "but there's a limit to human endurance. I finally decided to let him get on the ice, but at the first sign of weakness or sleepwalking I'd send him to the dressing room. I had to worry about him being groggy. What if he got hit hard and wound up badly hurt?"
The game was rough and fast. The powerful Maroons penetrated Boston's defense often, but Shore always helped repulse them. He smashed Hooley Smith to the ice with a vicious body check and drew the game's first penalty. Ross considered benching him at this point, but changed his mind. When the penalty had elapsed, Shore jumped on the ice and appeared stronger than ever. Shortly before the halfway point in the second period he skated behind his net to retrieve the puck. He faked one Montreal player, picked up speed at center ice and swerved to the left when he reached the Maroons' blue line. He sped around the last defenseman and shot. "I would say I was about fifteen feet out to the left," he says. "I can remember exactly how my shot went. It was low, about six inches off the ice, and went hard into the right corner of the net." The time of the goal was 8:20 of the second period. The Bruins led 1-0.
Shore still showed no signs of his ordeal during the third period (he had another two-minute penalty), and almost twenty-four hours after he chased the train down the North Station platform in Boston the final buzzer sounded. Apart from the two penalties, Shore had played the entire game without relief and, what's more, had scored the only goal of the game. Coach Ross never fined him for missing the train.