Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 31, 1936: Canadiens Play Benefit Game for Injured Rookie

imageMany Montreal Canadiens fans always recall the 1937 memorial game for the late Howie Morenz, as the team’s first benefit game.

In fact, the Canadiens, in one form or another, participated in at least two known benefit games prior.

One was in March 1929, where Canadiens and Montreal Maroons players, still in town after the playoffs, participated in an event on support of local sports figure Tom Elliott. The game is of interest as the teams experimented with new offside rules planned to be implemented it the next season.

The second took place at the Forum on January 31, 1936 where Inside Hockey’s Mike Wyman has a detailed look back at a benefit game played for Nels Crutchfield, who’s only NHL season was with Montreal in 1934-35.

Crutchfield was a standout with the McGill Redmen, and a prospect of the Montreal Maroons before his rights were traded to the Canadiens in October 1934.

He played just one season with the Canadiens, before suffering a severe skull fracture, during a car accident, in September of 1935.

two two_bhSt. Maurice Valley-Chronicle 10/03/1935

The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search

Montreal Gazette – 10/01/35

Fans from Crutchfield’s hometown of Shawinigan spent their $2.00 for the train ride to the Forum to see the event. The Canadiens donated the use of the Forum rent free, and provided ushers at no charge.

Members of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had played the Canadiens the night before, chose to stay in Montreal to participate in the event  before heading to Chicago.

The New York Rangers and Canadian Olympic Team also sent cash donations.

The game was just part of a full evening of events for the benefit.

After a figure skating exhibition, and a twenty minute women’s game, a squad of Canadiens and Maroons players took on a team of players from Crutchfield’s former amateur teams.

The St. Maurice Valley Chronicle - Google News Archive Search Itinerary for Crutchfield benefit game –St. Maurice Valley Chronicle 01/23/1936

The speed skating race featured the Leafs King Clancy, the Canadiens Johnny Gagnon and the Maroons Bob Gracie. There was even a goalie race between the Canadiens Wilf Cude and the Maroons Bill Beverage.

The original on-ice entertainer, Jean Pusie of the Canadiens, won the event overall even outskating provincial amateur champion Leo Sylvestre.

Canadiens legends Newsy Lalonde participated in a seven-on-seven Old-Timers game, with former linemate Billy Boucher scoring the lone goal.

The main event saw the Canadiens against the Maroons, with the help of a few Leafs in a seven-on-seven game. The Montreal clubs swapped goalies for the night as Cude earned a shutout in the Maroons/mixed teams 3-0 win.

In total, $7,777 was raised and Canadiens president Ernest Savard, and co-owner Maurice Forget went to Crutchfield’s home to personally present the check in March, 1936.

More on Nels Crutchfield can be found at Greatest Hockey Legends, and Legends of Hockey.

image Crutchfield’s ECHA contract with the 1929-30 Shawinigan Cataractes

1 comment:

francislenord said...

Interesting article. Thanks!
Francis Bouchard