James Dickinson "Dick" Irvin Jr. (or II)[1] (July 19, 1892 – May 16, 1957) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player and coach. He played for professional teams in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, the Western Canada Hockey League, and the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1916 to 1928, when he had to retire from repeated injuries. Irvin was one of the greatest players of his day, balancing a torrid slap shot and tough style with gentlemanly play. For his playing career, Irvin was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958. After playing, Irvin built a successful career as a coach in the NHL with the Chicago Black Hawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens. He won one Stanley Cup as a coach with Toronto, three more with Montreal, finishing with over 600 wins as a coach. He also served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

Dick Irvin
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1958
Irvin on a 1960 Topps card
Born (1892-07-19)July 19, 1892
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Died May 16, 1957(1957-05-16) (aged 64)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 162 lb (73 kg; 11 st 8 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for Portland Rosebuds
Regina Capitals
Chicago Black Hawks
Playing career 1916–1929

Early life edit

Irvin was born in Hamilton, Ontario,[2] one of 10 children, six boys and four girls. Two of the boys died in infancy, and the four girls all died of tuberculosis at an early age.[1] His father James Dickinson Irvin Sr. was a butcher.[1] The family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, when Dick Jr. was eight.

Winnipeg Monarchs with the Allan Cup in 1915. Dick Irvin in the back row second from left.

Irvin played hockey from an early age, following in the footsteps of his oldest brother Alex. Their father would drive his sons and other boys to games by horse and sleigh, relying often upon the horses' sense of direction in winter blizzards to return home safely.[1] The family flooded the driveway of their home to create an ice rink which the Irvin sons would play on. Irvin also set up a shooting area in the attic of the home, where he would shoot a puck at the doorknob of an old door mounted sideways against a wall.[3]

Irvin first played senior hockey with the Winnipeg Strathconas at the early age of 12.[1] The Strathconas were reserve team to support the Winnipeg Monarchs. During the 1914 Allan Cup, Irvin was ruled ineligible to compete for the Monarchs. Team president Fred Marples declared that the Monarchs refused to defend the cup without Irvin.[4] After three days of negotiating, the Monarchs agreed to play without Irvin in a one-game Allan Cup challenge versus the Kenora Thistles, instead of the customary two-game series decided on total goals scored.[5] The Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was established later in 1914, which determined player eligibility for the Allan Cup.[6] Irvin was declared eligible for the Monarchs and won the 1915 Allan Cup after the team had defeated the Melville Millionaires over two games 7 goals to 6 (3-4, 4-2).[7][8] There were no further challenges, and Irvin and the Monarchs ended the season as Allan Cup champions.

Irvin was also considered a top baseball player and he played on the Winnipeg Dominion Express team with his brothers Alex and George.[9] Irvin was also a competitive curler.[1]

Career edit

Irvin began his professional career in 1916 with the Portland Rosebuds of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and was the fourth leading scoring rookie tallying 35 goals. Before the following season, the Canadian government instituted a draft in August 1917 and Irvin was conscripted into the Canadian Expeditionary Force in November 1917. Irvin was taken on by The Fort Garry Horse regiment in April 1918 and arrived in England in May 1918. He was transferred to France in August 1918 and in October was transferred to a signals unit as a motorcycle rider. The war ended in November 1918 and Irvin arrived back in Halifax in May 1919.[10]

Irvin was reinstated as an amateur and he played three seasons with the Regina Victorias senior club. He returned to professional hockey in 1921 with the Regina Capitals of the Western Canada Hockey League. In 1926, at age 34, he entered the National Hockey League (NHL), signed by the newly formed Chicago Black Hawks. Irvin was made the team's first captain, and had an impressive campaign, finishing second in the league in scoring. In their first season, the Black Hawks led all NHL teams in scoring, led by Irvin and Babe Dye. Irvin's second season turned to tragedy as he fractured his skull, which led to retirement after the 1928–29 season, during which he had also added coaching duties. The Hawks had finished with the worst record in the NHL in both of his last two seasons as a player.[citation needed]

Irvin was hired as head coach of the Black Hawks in 1930, and in his first season behind the bench led the team to 24 wins, 17 losses and 3 ties. The Black Hawks made it to the Stanley Cup Finals but lost and the Black Hawks released him in September 1931.[11] That November, the Toronto Maple Leafs were winless after five games and manager Conn Smythe convinced Irvin to coach the Leafs.[12][13] In his first season coaching the Leafs (the first in the brand-new Maple Leaf Gardens), he achieved immediate success by winning the Stanley Cup. Irvin would lead the Leafs to the finals six more times, but could not deliver another Cup to Toronto.[citation needed]

By the end of the 1939–40 season, which ended with yet another loss in the finals, Smythe believed that Irvin had taken the Leafs as far as he could and decided to replace him with former Leafs captain Hap Day, who had retired. Smythe also knew that he would be away in the war and felt that Irvin would not be tough enough without Smythe to back him up.[14]

Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens had just suffered a ten-win season (still the worst winning percentage in franchise history), and were looking for a new coach. Knowing that the Canadiens were in serious straits off the ice as well as on it, Smythe suggested that the Canadiens hire Irvin, solving both teams' issues. Although Smythe knew he was giving the Leafs' biggest rival a boost, Smythe knew that three teams had already folded during the Depression and didn't want the Canadiens to join them.[15] Soon afterwards, Canadiens general manager Tommy Gorman picked Irvin up and drove him to Montreal to become coach of the team.[16] Irvin and players from the Canadiens were featured in the instructional film Hockey Fundamentals in December 1941, produced by the Quebec Amateur Hockey Association to benefit local minor ice hockey players.[17]

Irvin didn't take long to turn the Canadiens around. He had them back in the playoffs in his first season, and in his fourth season took them all the way to the Stanley Cup—the first of six finals appearances and three Cups. Helped by star players Elmer Lach, Doug Harvey, goalie Bill Durnan and a young Maurice Richard, the Canadiens were just beginning to blossom as an NHL dynasty. Although Irvin found his greatest success in Montreal, he came under fire for encouraging "goon" tactics, especially after Montreal fans rioted in protest of Richard's season-ending suspension for attacking a referee. He was already well known for looking the other way when stick-swinging duels broke out in practices.[18] Although they made it to the Cup Finals (losing to the Detroit Red Wings), internal pressure forced Irvin to step down.[citation needed]

He returned to the Black Hawks as head coach for the 1955–56 season, taking the reins of a moribund team that had only made the playoffs once in the past 10 years and finished last in the past two seasons. Irvin was unable to turn the team's fortunes around, and the Black Hawks again ended the year in last place, despite the emergence of Ed Litzenberger as a scoring star. Irvin was to coach the Black Hawks again in 1956–57, but he became so ill with bone cancer that he had to retire before the season began. He died a few months later at age 64 in Montreal.[19]

A year later, Irvin was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His coaching career included four Stanley Cups with 692 regular season wins. Among the seven coaches with four Stanley Cup championships, only Al Arbour and Scotty Bowman have more wins than Irvin.[20]

Playing style edit

"He is playing centre, and playing it so spectacularly that he is touted the real find of the season. He plays clean hockey, too, and has a most deceptive method of wig-wagging his way through the best defences for a shot on the nets. Generally, his shots are billed through to the goal, as any of a trio of league goaltenders can substantiate."

Edmonton Journal on Irvin during his 1916–17 season with the Portland Rosebuds.[21]

Irvin with the Portland Rosebuds in 1916–17.

When PCHA president Frank Patrick signed Irvin to his league for the 1916–17 season, to play with the Portland Rosebuds, he claimed the 23-year old former Winnipeg amateur centre ice man was "the greatest forward who ever came into the Pacific Coast League" and predicted that before the end of the season Irvin would be "one of the best players in the country." Patrick hailed Irvin as a "natural-born goal getter" who "scores from almost any possible angle."[22]

After a slow start in Portland, where Irvin himself was convinced that he was not to be given a chance to properly display his worth as a player, later on confessing that he had had early thoughts on leaving the league and returning home to Winnipeg, he was finally injected into a game in Portland and made good with a vengeance.[21] At the end of the season he had lived up to Frank Patrick's high expectations and he almost caught up with the top point producers in the league, finally finishing 4th in goals and 5th in points despite his slow start to the season where he sat on the bench for most of the first five games.

Irvin was not only clean playing but also a clean living individual who did not touch either alcohol or nicotine, figuring a perfect health would be one of his best assets,[21] to go along with his deceptive wig-wagging moves and his dangerous shooting ability on the ice.

Personal edit

Irvin kept a home in Regina, Saskatchewan, for most of his life, before buying a home in Mount Royal in 1954. Irvin married Bertha Helen Bain and fathered two children, daughter Fay and son James Dickinson Irvin III (known as Dick, Jr.) who is a noted Canadian television sports announcer.[9] He was a noted pigeon fancier.[23] Irvin died at his Mount Royal home.[9] According to his obituary in the Montreal Gazette, Irvin "died after a lingering illness. [He] had to retire because of the illness that was finally to snuff out his colorful life." He was interred in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto.[24]

Irvin was portrayed in the 2005 Maurice Richard biopic The Rocket by Canadian actor Stephen McHattie.[25]

Tribute edit

Upon learning of Irvin's death, NHL president Clarence Campbell issued this statement which appeared in the Montreal Gazette on May 17, 1957: "Everyone in the hockey world mourns. [We have lost] one of the greatest figures the game has ever known."

Career statistics edit

Regular season and playoffs edit

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1911–12 Winnipeg Monarchs MHL 5 16 0 16 0 1 5 0 5 0
1912–13 Winnipeg Strathconas MHL 7 32 0 32 12 1 0 0 0 0
1912–13 Winnipeg Monarchs MHL 2 5 0 5
1913–14 Winnipeg Strathconas MHL 3 11 0 11
1913–14 Winnipeg Monarchs MHL 7 23 1 24
1914–15 Winnipeg Monarchs MHL 6 23 3 26 30 2 10 0 10 2
1914–15 Winnipeg Monarchs Al-Cup 6 17 3 20 20
1915–16 Winnipeg Monarchs MHL 8 17 4 21 38 2 7 1 8 2
1916–17 Portland Rosebuds PCHA 23 35 10 45 24
1917–18 Winnipeg Ypres MHL 9 29 8 37 26
1919–20 Regina Victorias SSHL 12 32 4 36 22 2 1 0 1 4
1920–21 Regina Victorias SSHL 11 19 5 24 12 4 8 0 8 4
1921–22 Regina Capitals WCHL 20 21 7 28 17 4 3 0 3 2
1921–22 Regina Capitals West-P 2 1 0 1 0
1922–23 Regina Capitals WCHL 25 9 4 13 12 2 1 0 1 0
1923–24 Regina Capitals WCHL 29 15 8 23 33 2 0 0 0 4
1924–25 Regina Capitals WCHL 28 13 5 18 38
1925–26 Portland Rosebuds WHL 30 31 5 36 29
1926–27 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 43 18 18 36 34 2 2 0 2 4
1927–28 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 12 5 4 9 14
1928–29 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 39 6 1 7 30
WCHL/WHL totals 102 58 24 82 100 8 4 0 4 6
NHL totals 94 29 23 52 78 2 2 0 2 4

Coaching record edit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
Chicago Black Hawks 1928–29 12 2 6 4 22 5th in American Did not qualify
Chicago Black Hawks 1930–31 44 24 17 3 51 2nd in American Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Toronto Maple Leafs 1931–32 43 23 15 5 53 2nd in Canadian Won Stanley Cup
Toronto Maple Leafs 1932–33 48 24 18 6 54 1st in Canadian Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Toronto Maple Leafs 1933–34 48 26 13 9 61 1st in Canadian Lost in semi-finals
Toronto Maple Leafs 1934–35 48 30 14 4 64 1st in Canadian Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Toronto Maple Leafs 1935–36 48 23 19 6 52 2nd in Canadian Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Toronto Maple Leafs 1936–37 48 22 21 5 49 3rd in Canadian Lost in quarter-finals
Toronto Maple Leafs 1937–38 48 24 15 9 57 1st in Canadian Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Toronto Maple Leafs 1938–39 48 19 20 9 47 3rd in NHL Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Toronto Maple Leafs 1939–40 48 25 17 6 56 3rd in NHL Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Montreal Canadiens 1940–41 48 16 26 6 38 6th in NHL Lost in quarter-finals
Montreal Canadiens 1941–42 48 18 27 3 39 6th in NHL Lost in quarter-finals
Montreal Canadiens 1942–43 50 19 19 12 50 4th in NHL Lost in semi-finals
Montreal Canadiens 1943–44 50 38 5 7 83 1st in NHL Won Stanley Cup
Montreal Canadiens 1944–45 50 38 8 4 80 1st in NH Lost in semi-finals
Montreal Canadiens 1945–46 50 28 17 5 61 1st in NHL Won Stanley Cup
Montreal Canadiens 1946–47 60 34 16 10 78 1st in NHL Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Montreal Canadiens 1947–48 60 20 29 11 51 5th in NHL Did not qualify
Montreal Canadiens 1948–49 60 28 23 9 65 3rd in NHL Lost in semi-finals
Montreal Canadiens 1949–50 70 29 22 19 77 2nd in NHL Lost in semi-finals
Montreal Canadiens 1950–51 70 25 30 15 65 3rd in NHL Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Montreal Canadiens 1951–52 70 34 26 10 78 2nd in NHL Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Montreal Canadiens 1952–53 70 28 23 19 75 2nd in NHL Won Stanley Cup
Montreal Canadiens 1953–54 70 35 24 11 81 2nd in NHL Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Montreal Canadiens 1954–55 70 41 18 11 93 2nd in NHL Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
Chicago Black Hawks 1955–56 70 19 39 12 50 6th in NHL Did not qualify
Total 1449 692 527 230 1612 24 playoff appearances, 4 Stanley Cup Wins

Awards and achievements edit

  • Allan Cup Championship (1915)
  • Stanley Cup Championships as a coach (1932 – Toronto, 1944, 1946, and 1953 – Montreal)
  • Lost in the finals a record 12 times as a coach (1931 – Chicago, 1933-35-36-38-39-40 – Toronto, 1947-51-52-54-55 – Montreal)
  • NHL First All-Star Team Coach (1944, 1945, 1946)
  • NHL Second All-Star Team Coach (1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1941)
  • Inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1983
  • Selected to Manitoba's All-Century First All-Star Team and named Coach of the Century
  • Honoured Member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Maurice (May 17, 1957). "Player Senior Hockey in Winnipeg at 12, Might Have Been Sprint Ace". The Gazette. Montreal. p. 26.
  2. ^ Cole, Stephen (2006). The Canadian Hockey Atlas. Doubleday Canada. ISBN 978-0-385-66093-8.
  3. ^ Melville, Scotty (May 17, 1957). "Dick Irvin Was A Dedicated Player; Practices Profusely, Loved Hockey". The Gazette. Montreal. p. 26.
  4. ^ "Allan Cup Games Off; Dick Irvin Is Barred; Kenora May Get Trophy". Winnipeg Tribune. Winnipeg, Manitoba. March 7, 1914. p. 15. 
  5. ^ "Sudden Death Game To Decide Allan Cup". Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg, Manitoba. March 10, 1914. p. 6. 
  6. ^ "Dominion Amateur Hockey Commission Is Now A Reality". Winnipeg Tribune. Winnipeg, Manitoba. December 5, 1914. p. 28. 
  7. ^ "Melville defeats Monarchs in opening match for Cup". Vancouver Sun. March 11, 1915. p. 6. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  8. ^ "Monarchs regain Allan Cup after sensational contest". Vancouver Sun. March 13, 1915. p. 6. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c DeGeer, Vern (May 17, 1957). "Dick Irvin, 64, Dies; Was Headliner As Player, Coach". The Gazette. Montreal. p. 25.
  10. ^ Hunter 1996, pp. 45–46.
  11. ^ "Irvin Is Released By Chicago Black Hawks". The Globe. September 7, 1931. p. 8.
  12. ^ "Irvin To Succeed Coach Art Duncan". The Globe. November 28, 1931. p. 8.
  13. ^ Rodden, M. J. (November 30, 1931). "On The Highways of Sport: The Maple Leafs Finally Chase The Jinx". The Globe. p. 6.
  14. ^ Smythe & Young 1981, p. 143.
  15. ^ Hunter 1997, p. 42.
  16. ^ Goyens, p. 45
  17. ^ "Picture On Hockey Is Given Preview". The Gazette. Montreal, Quebec. December 6, 1941. p. 18. 
  18. ^ Hunter 1997, p. 89.
  19. ^ MacLeod 2018, p. 86
  20. ^ "NHL Coach Register".
  21. ^ a b c "Portland's Sensational Centre Learned Hockey in Winnipeg", Edmonton Journal. Feb. 24, 1917 (p. 31). Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  22. ^ "Dick Irvin, former 'Peg star, sensation of coast league" The Daily Provine (Vancouver). Jan. 4, 1917 (p. 10. ). Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  23. ^ "FEATHERED SPEED | Maclean's | July 1st 1933".
  24. ^ "Death Notices". Montreal Gazette. May 18, 1957.
  25. ^ "Maurice Richard" IMDb.com. Retrieved 2022-08-07.

Bibliography edit

  • Goyens, Chrys; Turowetz, Allan (1986). Lions in Winter. Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall Canada. ISBN 0-13-537457-X.
  • Hunter, Douglas (1996). War Games: Conn Smythe and hockey's fighting men. Toronto, Ontario: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-025685-7.
  • Hunter, Douglas (1997). Champions: The Illustrated History of Hockey's Greatest Dynasties. Chicago, Illinois: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-213-6.
  • MacLeod, Alan Livingstone (2018), From Rinks to Regiments: Hockey Hall-of-Famers and the Great War, Victoria, British Columbia: Heritage House, ISBN 978-1-77203-268-0
  • Smythe, Conn; Young, Scott (1981). Conn Smythe: If you can't beat 'em in the alley. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-9078-1.

External links edit

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