Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 17
The Stanley Cup Journal


Alex Shibicky earned 201 points (110 goals and 91 assists) in 324 regular season games with the New York Rangers. (HHOF Archives)
Sometimes, things don't go the way they are planned.

The Stanley Cup was scheduled to visit Alex Shibicky on Saturday, July 23 at his South Surrey, British Columbia home. A call came during the first week of July. "I don't think Dad is going to make it." It was Alex Shibicky Jr. "My father has been really looking forward to his visit with the Stanley Cup. He hoped he could raise some money for charity during his day and should he not make it, we'd still love to host the Stanley Cup in Dad's honour and do some good in my father's name."

Alex Shibicky died Saturday, July 9 at his home. He had turned 91 on May 19.

* * *

Alex Shibicky was signed by the New York Rangers while playing junior in his hometown of Winnipeg. He joined the Rangers in 1935-36, splitting the season between the big club and the Can-Am League's Philadelphia Ramblers. He was in the NHL for good the next season.

During his rookie season, Shibicky experimented with a shot we know today as the slapshot. "I learned it from Bun Cook," Alex admitted in an earlier interview. Although it took some practise to work on the shot's accuracy, Alex found it effective and was soon using the slapshot in game action.

In the early 1940's, there were both major and minor penalty shots. A minor penalty shot was taken from a line 28-feet from the goal, and the shooter was not allowed to skate in on the netminder. Shibicky was regularly designated as the club's penalty shot taker.

In 1938-39, while playing on the 'Bread Line' with Mac and Neil Colville, Alex collected 24 goals, tying him with Toe Blake for second in the goal scoring parade, two behind leader Roy Conacher. That served as Alex's career best goal scoring season.

The Rangers finished the 1939-40 season in second place behind the Boston Bruins. These two teams met in the semi-final, with New York coming out on top four games to two. Alex collected 2 goals and 2 assists against the Bruins.

In the Stanley Cup final of 1939-40, New York faced the Toronto Maple Leafs. Because the Ringling Brothers Circus was scheduled to set up in Madison Square Garden on April 4, Toronto agreed to play back-to-back nights in New York April 2nd and 3rd, then play any remaining games in Toronto.

With the elephants parked in a trailer outside, New York edged Toronto 2-1 in Game 1, then shellacked the Leafs 6-2 in Game 2. In Toronto for Game 3, Alex left the contest late in the first period with an injured right heel while Toronto beat New York 2-1. Game 4 saw the Maple Leafs shut out the Rangers 3-0; a game in which Alex didn't dress. It turned out Alex had broken his ankle in three places during Game 3, but the doctors froze the foot so he could return to action later in the series.

With the series tied at two games apiece, Alex dressed and was ready for Game 5. Midway through the first, Shibicky set up Neil Colville for the Rangers' first goal. Regulation time ended with the teams tied at one, and after twenty minutes of overtime, the contest still hadn't been decided. Then, at 11:43 of the second overtime, Muzz Patrick put the puck past Turk Broda to give New York its third win.

Game 6 was played April 13. Going into the third period, the Maple Leafs were up 2-0, but Neil Colville scored on a pass from Shibicky at 8:08 to close the gap. Alf Pike scored two minutes later to tie the game. Deadlocked, the game went into overtime. At 2:07, Bryan Hextall scored to give the New York Rangers the Stanley Cup!

It was the only Stanley Cup championship won by Alex Shibicky during his outstanding career, played entirely with the New York Rangers.

* * *


Stanley Cup champion Alex Shibicky died on July 9, 2005 at the age of 91, a scant two weeks before he was to receive the Stanley Cup. His family congregated proudly in his memory, a tribute to a fine hockey player and a wonderful man.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup was taken to the Burnaby Winter Club where Alex's wife Gloria, sons Alex Jr. and Bill and daughters Lori, Nancy and Kathy waited along with grandchildren Jamie, Jennifer, Matt, Carly, Cody and Nick. Newspaper clippings outlining Alex Shibicky's career dotted the walls of the hall. Glenn Anderson's parents, who are family friends of the Shibickys, were also there, as were various other friends there to celebrate Alex's memory. Donations that afternoon were given to the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation, which raises funding to enhance quality health care in the White Rock and Surrey areas of British Columbia.

Only three members of that 1940 Stanley Cup-winning New York Rangers team survive today. Dutch Hiller, Alf Pike and Clint Smith will all enjoy a personal Stanley Cup celebration this summer, and each of the three will raise a glass to toast Alex Shibicky, their valiant teammate of 65 years ago who played on a broken ankle to help them win the top award in professional hockey — the Stanley Cup.

* * *

After dinner on Saturday evening, the Stanley Cup was loaded onto a ferry that traversed Georgia Strait between the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Jumpin' jehosophat -- it was Howie Meeker's turn with the Stanley Cup!

 
Howie Meeker stands in front of his immaculate Parksville home, holding the Cup he received from the Toronto Maple Leafs when they won four Stanley Cup championships in five years -- 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)   More than 1,000 fans greeted Howie Meeker at the Parksville arena named in his honour. The former rookie of the year (1947) looks like he could still play a regular shift! (Mike Bolt/HHOF)

Arriving at 9:30 on Saturday night, the Stanley Cup was taken to the Meeker home in Parksville on the gorgeous eastern coast of Vancouver Island. The Meeker home is stunning — beautifully landscaped and perched right on the water with a view of the mountains that leaves visitors gobsmacked.


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police boast that they always get their man, and on July 24, they got more than they bargained for -- their man and his Cup! (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Howie is every bit as energetic as remembered from his tenure as an analyst on 'Hockey Night in Canada,' and insisted that his grandchildren get their pictures taken with Lord Stanley's gift to hockey. Nick, one of the grandchildren, is a massive fan of hockey and plays goal on his team. The Stanley Cup was quietly placed in his bedroom that night as he slept so that when he awoke on Sunday morning, it would be the first thing he saw.

Breakfast took place at 7:30 on the patio overlooking the ocean and the mountains. Life simply can't get much better than that. With the Stanley Cup were Meeker, Leah and little Nick, whose grin hadn't subsided since he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes that morning.

By 8, Howie arrived at the arena named in his honour. More than 1,000 fans spent the day getting photos with the Cup and securing autographs from Howie Meeker. By 3 that afternoon, they returned to the house where a private party was to be held. Howie's son Mike and his wife Lynn were there. Kids Tyler and Kyle were also there. As hors d'oeuvres were nibbled and drinks served, Mike Meeker studied every inch of the Stanley Cup, reciting some of the greatest names in hockey history — Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe, Richard, Meeker.

In 7 NHL seasons, all with Toronto, Howie scored 83 goals and assisted on 102 more for 185 points in 346 regular season contests. He was later coach, then GM of the Leafs too. (Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
About 7:30, a more formal dinner was served. Gene, a friend who had served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, brought photographs he had taken earlier that afternoon at the Howie Meeker Arena, and 80-year old Howie chuckled as he flipped through each one. "Gee whiz, look at that, will ya? (ha ha) Back 'er up a sec, Gene. Will ya look at that!?" Howie was clearly having the time of his life.

As the group sat around relaxing through the course of the evening, Howie recalled some of the highlights of his remarkable professional career — serving his country during World War II, receiving the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year in 1946-47, winning the Stanley Cup in four of his first five seasons in the league, his years as coach and general manager with the Maple Leafs, life in Newfoundland and broadcasting with 'Hockey Night in Canada.'

"Let me tell ya sumthin'," beamed Howie. "It's been one hell of a life, and I ain't through yet!"

* * *

Harry Taylor was a teammate of Meeker's with the Stanley Cup-winning Toronto Maple Leafs team of 1948-49. It was quite a season. Reigning as the two-time Stanley Cup champions, Toronto finished a lowly fourth during the regular season.

Both Howie Meeker and Harry Taylor played for the 1948-49 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs. (Dave Sandford/HHOF)
The Maple Leafs easily defeated the second place Boston Bruins in five games, with Harry Taylor making his only playoff appearance in Game 4; a 3-1 Toronto win.

The Maple Leafs faced the league-leading Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final. The Maple Leafs were on a roll — they took the series in four straight games. Game 1's final score was 3-2, followed by three consecutive 3-1 Toronto wins. Three was a magic number that spring. It was the team's third Stanley Cup in a row.

* * *

Harry Taylor and his wife Irene arrived at the home of friends Kenn and Tiina Shaw at noon on Monday, July 25. With Harry and Irene were daughter Kathy and son Ian, along with Ian's wife Rosemary. Kathy, Ian and Rosemary had been told they were going to meet an old friend of their Dad's and although the prospect didn't overly thrill them, they didn't begrudge the introduction and the likelihood that the afternoon would be filled with dusty old stories of Dad's hockey career.

Harry Taylor was a member of the Memorial Cup champion Winnipeg Monarchs, the Calder champion Cleveland Barons and, of course, the Stanley Cup-winning Toronto Maple Leafs during an illustrious hockey career.
(Imperial Oil-Turofsly/HHOF)
The Shaw home was immaculately decorated in a hockey motif, with nets, cut-outs of hockey players and hockey books placed around the yard. As the Taylor family rounded the corner of Kenn and Tiina's house, Ian caught a glimpse of the Stanley Cup. "Oh my God, I can't believe it," he exclaimed as the tears rolled down his cheeks. An off-ice official at Winnipeg's MTS Centre for the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, Ian had tried to see the Stanley Cup once in Winnipeg but was unable to fit it into his schedule.

The family examined the Stanley Cup carefully. "Look, here it is," said Ian, pointing to the name 'Harry Taylor' engraved onto the Cup. Each ran their fingers over the name inscribed there.

Although Harry's NHL career was a brief 66 games, his hockey career was played with great distinction. Taylor can boast a trio of championships — in 1946, he collected 34 points in 17 games to lead the Winnipeg Monarchs to the Memorial Cup as junior champions; he won the Stanley Cup in 1949 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and in 1950-51, his Cleveland Barons won the Calder Cup as American Hockey League champions.

Kenn and Tiina, with daughter Tianna, took the theme a few steps further. Stanley Cup-shaped cookies were lined up on the table beside a cake that exclaimed '1948-49 — when Harry Met Stanley.' "This is absolutely perfect," grinned Taylor. "Almost surreal."

 
Harry Taylor meets an old friend -- the Stanley Cup -- at the home of his friends, the Shaws. It didn't take him long to find his name engraved on Lord Stanley's gift! (Mike Bolt/HHOF)   Landon Shaw harbours big dreams that he, too, might someday accompany the Stanley Cup like Hockey Hall of Fame Cup Keeper Mike Bolt.
(HHOF)

* * *

Kenn and Tiina Shaw made July 25 very special for Harry Taylor, even including Stanley Cup cookies and a custom-baked cake into the celebration. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup left Harry Taylor at 6 pm and was taken to Sidney, BC for a quick visit with the family of Duke Keats, an Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who played with the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association prior to World War I, then included stints with the NHL's Boston Bruins, Detroit Cougars and Chicago Blackhawks in the 1920's.

* * *

The ferry from Vancouver Island back to the bright lights of Vancouver wasn't overly crowded, and the Stanley Cup got to rest for a few hours during that trip late in the evening of Monday, July 25.

At noon on Tuesday, July 26, the Stanley Cup arrived at the North Shore Winter Club in North Vancouver. A number of Vancouver Canucks' alumni were present, but the day belonged to Clint Smith, at 91, the oldest member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Both Alex Shibicky and Clint Smith were key components of the New York Rangers' Stanley Cup win in 1940. (Dave Sandford/HHOF)
Clint looked absolutely dapper, as he always does when involved in any sort of function. Proudly wearing his Hockey Hall of Fame blazer, Clint, who was known as 'Snuffy' when he played, greeted the guests and smiled broadly as the Stanley Cup was presented. His daughter Jenny had flown in from Florida to be part of the festivities.

* * *

Clint was signed by the New York Rangers in 1932 and was sent to Vancouver to play with the Lions of the Northwestern Hockey League where he led the league in scoring in 1934-35 and 1935-36. The Rangers summoned Clint for 2 games in 1936-37 and he scored his first NHL goal during that try-out.

Smith joined New York full-time in 1937-38, and was a mainstay for six seasons. In 1939, Clint finished fourth in scoring with 41 points and was also the recipient of the Lady Byng Trophy as the league's most gentlemanly player. "How did you go through an entire 48-game season getting just two minutes in penalties," asked one of the Canucks. "Ah, it was nuthin'," replied Smith with a wink. "I knew the referees."

At 91. Clint Smith is the oldest member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He enjoyed his day with the Cup on July 26 in Vancouver. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Rangers joined the National Hockey League in 1926-27 and collected the Stanley Cup in their second season of existence. They won again in 1933. In 1939-40, the Rangers finished second overall. Facing Boston in the semi-final, Clint scored a goal and added 2 assists to help propel the Rangers into the Stanley Cup final against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

* * *

The Rangers took Game 1 with an overtime win, then dumped the Leafs 6-2 in Game 2. Toronto won Game 3 by a score of 2-1, then blanked New York 3-0. Clint earned a rare minor penalty in the second period. New York edged Toronto in Game 5 with a dramatic goal in double overtime.

Clint played the series with rookie of the year, Kilby MacDonald, and Lynn Patrick. The trio had a strong series but was on the ice when Toronto scored the opening goal of Game 6. A second Leaf goal put the Rangers in a hole, but Neil Colville scored in the third followed quickly by a goal from Alf Pike which was assisted by Clint Smith. Tied at two, the game went into overtime but was resolved quickly. Bryan Hextall scored early into the extra frame to give the New York Rangers their third Stanley Cup championship!

One of the most gentlemanly NHL players ever, Clint Smith scored 161 goals and 236 assists for 397 points in 483 regular season NHL games.
In that same period of time, he earned
just 24 minutes in penalties!
(HHOF Archives)
The Rangers, who won the championship at Maple Leaf Gardens, took the Stanley Cup to a nearby restaurant to celebrate. A Toronto fan tried to steal the Cup from the exuberant Rangers but was caught in the process. The team continued the party at the Royal York Hotel where they had been staying, then took the train back to New York the next day.

Clint Smith stayed with the Rangers until September 1943 when he was signed by the Chicago Blackhawks. He played with the Hawks for four more seasons, but never won the Stanley Cup again. In 1943-44, he set an NHL record by collecting 49 assists while playing on a line with Bill Mosienko and Doug Bentley. All three forwards would be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. That same season, Clint was awarded the Lady Byng Trophy for a second time.

In 483 NHL games, 'Snuffy' scored 161 goals and 236 assists. But more remarkably, Clint served just 24 minutes in penalties through his ten NHL seasons. In three of those years, Clint didn't pick up a single penalty. In 1991, Clint Smith was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

* * *

Join the Stanley Cup Journal again Friday when the trophy visits George Armstrong, Danny Lewicki, Enio Sclisizzi and Ed Chadwick. Look forward to seeing you again then!

Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Manager of Publishing and Editorial Services.
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