From Rinks to Regiments – Hockey Hall-of-Famers and the Great War (by Alan Livingstone MacLeod)

Presented in association with the Society for International Hockey Research (SIHR). Thirty-two men enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame were also...
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  1. A L MacLeod
    Book Title: From Rinks to Regiments: Hockey Hall-of-Famers and the Great War

    Author: Alan Livingstone MacLeod

    Publisher: Heritage House, 2018 From Rinks to Regiments - Heritage House Publishing

    Author Note: A. L. MacLeod is a Victoria-based author whose books have dealt with war, or hockey, or both. His first book, Remembered in Bronze and Stone (Heritage House, 2016), is an exploration of Canadian war memorials featuring a soldier statue. His second book, From Rinks to Regiments (Heritage House, 2018) relates the stories of men who are both members of the Hockey Hall of Fame and were soldiers in the Great War of 1914-18. This fall Heritage House will publish his third book, Capitals, Aristocrats and Cougars, the story of Lester Patrick's Victoria hockey professionals, 1911-1926.

    About From Rinks to Regiments: Thirty-two men enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame were also soldiers in the First World War. Not just hockey heroes, five of these men were awarded gallantry decorations. Four paid the ultimate price for answering the call of duty: they were killed in action. They were not all "fair-haired lads", either as hockey players or soldiers. Some had disciplinary issues and were subject to court-martial. Some were hospitalized due to wounds delivered by the enemy; others to be treated for sexually transmitted disease; a few managed to accomplish both. Two of the players were airmen, one a Canadian 'ace', the other the captain of the first Canadian team to win hockey gold. Another of the 32, a man who once scored 14 goals in a Stanley Cup game, is remembered on Canada's Vimy Monument, just one of 11,000 Canadians who died in France and have no known grave. Another came close to losing a leg at Vimy in April 1917 but endured to become a star in the NHL and the league's second president. This book brings to light the stories of a largely forgotten but entirely fascinating "band of brothers".

    Excerpt from "Second Period: Duke Keats: Even Capone Was a Fan"
    The most eye-catching item in Keats’ war service record is entered for 10 January 1918. On that day he was sentenced to 14 days Field Punishment No. 1, evidently for drunkenness. Soldiers loathed Field Punishment No. 1, and no wonder. One of its features was being tied to a wheel or other fixed object for two hours a day. Nothing else in Keats’s war record is so eventful. In March of 1919 he was aboard His Majesty’s Troopship Celtic, en route back to Canada.

    Keats moved west for the 1919-20 season and threw his lot with the Edmonton Eskimos of the amateur Big-4 league. It was the beginning of a productive collaboration. Over the course of seven years in the Alberta capital, two in the Big-4, five in a new pro circuit, the Western Canada Hockey League, Duke was an all-star five times. In 1921-22 he was a wunderkind. He tallied 31 goals, 24 assists in 25 games—a 55-point total that left the second-best scorer 22 points in arrears. In four of those seasons one of Keats’ teammates was Bullet Joe Simpson, a perennial all-star just like Keats.

    In 1926, now 31, Keats was dealt to the NHL Boston Bruins for cash. He played only briefly for the Bruins before being traded to Detroit for a player we will meet just ahead, Frank Fredrickson. Though not as gaudy as the numbers he had put together in Edmonton, Keats was effective in Detroit, scoring twelve times in 25 games with the Cougars.

    Just five games into the ‘27-28 season, with Jolly Jack Adams behind the Detroit bench, Duke took exception to having a fan throw a drink on him. He went into the stands and in the process of delivering retribution unto the fan Keats came close to injuring an innocent—Irene Castle, a famous actress of her time. Unsurprisingly, this made Duke persona non grata in Detroit; he was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks whose owner, Major Frederic McLaughlin, just happened to be the spouse of Irene Castle. Clearly, the Major harboured no grudge.

    The Iron Duke did well for himself in Chicago, with 14 goals and 22 points in his 32 games in the Windy City. He made new fans.

    One night, aggravated at being followed on the street by two men in dark suits, Keats turned on them and demanded to know what they were up to. No mischief, the men explained, “Mr. Capone just wants to make sure you get home safely, Duke.” Even America’s most famous gangster loved Keats.

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