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Howie Morenz

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Howie Morenz
Position Centre
Shot Left
5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
165 lb (75 kg)
Teams Montreal Canadiens
Chicago Black Hawks
New York Rangers
Nationality Flag of Canada Canadian
Born September 21, 1902,
Mitchell, Ontario
Died March 8, 1937,
Montreal, Quebec
Pro Career 1923 – 1937
Hall of Fame, 1945

Howard William Morenz (September 21, 1902 – March 8, 1937) was a Canadian professional player in the National Hockey League. He played for the Montreal Canadiens (in two stints), the Chicago Black Hawks, and the New York Rangers. Prior to joining the NHL, Morenz excelled in the Ontario Hockey Association. Once in the NHL, he became one of the most dominant players in the league. Morenz died from complications of a broken leg, an injury he suffered in a game.

Considered one of the first stars of the NHL, Morenz played fourteen seasons in the league. He was a member of a Stanley Cup winning team three times, all with the Canadiens. Morenz consistently finished in or near the top of league scoring, placing in the top ten leading scorers ten times in his fourteen seasons. For seven straight seasons, Morenz led the Canadiens in both goals scored and points. Three times in his career Morenz was named the most valuable player of the league and led the league in goals scored once and total points scored twice. When the NHL introduced All-Star selections in 1930, he was named to the NHL All-Star Team three times. After his death, the Canadiens removed his jersey number from circulation, the first time the team had done so. When the Hockey Hall of Fame opened in 1945, Morenz was one of the original twelve inductees. In 1950 the Canadian Press named Morenz the best ice hockey player of the first half of the twentieth century.

Early lifeEdit

Morenz was born in Mitchell, Ontario. Howie learned his hockey playing shinny on the nearby Thames River. At the age of eight, he played his first organised game as a goaltender, where he allowed twenty-one goals. After that game, a coach switched Morenz to rover. Morenz became a forward after it became apparent his speed was much more suitable for an offensive role. After starting in goal for the 1916–17 season, Howie helped the Mitchell ice hockey team reach the Western Ontario juvenille championship.


Morenz while playing junior ice hockey

The Morenz family then moved to Stratford, a nearby community, in May, 1917. Howie tried enlisting in the Canadian Army, but was refused when it was learned he was only fifteen years old. He joined the Stratford Midgets junior team , leading the Ontario Hockey Association in assists and points during the regular season, and goals, assists and points in the playoffs during the 1920–21 season. The Midgets won the league title and played in the 1921 Memorial Cup Final against the Winnipeg Falcons. While Morenz scored a hat trick (three goals) in each of the two games in the series, the Midgets lost the total-goals series 11–9. After reaching the Memorial Cup, Morenz was asked to play for the Stratford Indians, a senior team. Morenz split the 1921–22 season with the junior and senior teams. During the playoffs, he led both leagues in goals, assists, points, and led the senior league in penalty minutes. Playing exclusively in the senior league in the 1922–23 season, he led it for regular season assists, and playoff goals, points and penalty minutes.

In 1926 he married Mary Stewart; they had three children together, two sons and a daughter. Howie, Jr. was born in 1927, Donald in 1933 and Marlene in 1934. In 1952 Marlene married Bernie Geoffrion, who played for both the Canadiens and Rangers from 1950 to 1968. Their son, Howie's grandson, Dan, would briefly play for the Canadiens in the 1979-80 NHL Season.

During a Canadian National Railway ice hockey tournament held December, 1922 in Montreal, Morenz scored nine goals in a game for Stratford. A friend of Léo Dandurand, the owner of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League, refereed the game, and told Dandurand how good Morenz was. Dandurand went to Stratford in January, 1923 to watch Morenz play, and decided he wanted to sign him to the Canadiens. In April he met with William Morenz, Howie's father, because at the age of twenty, Howie was still legally a minor. Willam told Dandurand that he wanted Howie to finish his apprenticeship at the CN factory, which would take another two years. However in July, Danduarnd learned that Morenz and his father had been in contact with the Toronto St. Patricks, a rival team in the NHL. Fearing that Morenz would sign in Toronto, Dandurand sent his friend, Cecil Hart, to Stratford with instructions to sign Morenz at any cost. On July 7, 1923, Howie Morenz signed a contract with the Canadiens for three years, with a salary of $3,500 per year and a $1,000 signing bonus.

Immediately after signing the contract with the Canadiens, Morenz began to reconsider joining the Canadiens. Stratford residents, as well as his senior team, wanted him to stay, and Morenz yielded to the pressure. He wote a letter in August to Dandurand, explaining that he could not leave Stratford, and included the cheque given to him as a signing bonus. Upon receiving the letter, Dandurand phoned Morenz and told him to come to Montreal to talk in person. In Montreal, Morenz began explaining his reasons for not signing to Dandurand, but began crying. In response, Dandurand told him that if Morenz did not join the Canadiens, his professional hockey career would be over. Hearing this, Morenz relented and agreed to report to the Canadiens training camp later in the year.

Montreal Canadiens (1923–34)Edit

Morenz arrived at his first Canadiens training camp on December 3, 1923, and quickly impressed his new teammates. He made his NHL debut on December 26, 1923 in Ottawa against the Ottawa Senators, scoring a goal against the home team. He finished the 1923–24 season, his first in the NHL, with thirteen goals and three assists in twenty-four games. The Canadiens finished first in the league that season for the first time in five years, and reached the NHL playofs, facing the Senators for the league championship. Morenz scored the only goal in the first game of the two game, total goals series, and added another goal in the second game as the Canadiens won the series, five goals to two. The Canadiens then played two teams from Western Canada for the Stanley Cup. They defeated the Vancouver Maroons of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) in the two games of a playoff series, and then faced the Calgary Tigers of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). In the first game against Calgary, the Canadiens won by a score of 6–1, with Morenz scoring a hat trick. He would score another goal in the second game, as Montreal won 3–0 and defeated the Tigers to win their second Stanley Cup championship, and Morenz's first with the team.

The following season, Morenz scored twenty-eight goals and eleven assists for thirty-nine points, placing second on the Canadiens and fourth in the NHL in scoring. He followed that with seven goals and eight points in six playoff games, as Montreal lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Victoria Cougars of the WCHL. Howie tied with linemate Aurel Joliat in leading the Canadiens in scoring in 1925–26 with twenty-six points, finishing fifth in the league. He finished third in the league in goals, with twenty-five, and points, with thirty-two, in 1926–27, to again lead the Canadiens. The one goal he scored in four playoff games eliminated the Montreal Maroons from playoff contention.

Howie, for all practical purposes, had his best season in 1927–28, running away with the scoring championship in an era where forward passing was very restricted, scoring a league-leading 33 goals and leading the league in assists as well with 18. In the final game of the season, March 24, 1928, Morenz earned two assists, tying the then-NHL record for assists in a season with eighteen, and becoming the first player to score fifty points in a season, finishing with fifty-one. He scored 40 goals in 1929–30 and led the NHL in scoring in 1930–31. In a March 17, 1932 game against the New York Americans, Morenz scored his 334th point with an assist, passing Cy Denneny for the NHL record holder for career points. He finished the 1931–32 season with twenty-four goals and twenty-five assists for forty-nine points. Morenz set another record during the 1933–34 season. Against the Detroit Red Wings on December 23, 1933, he scored his 249th career goal, again passing Denneny, to become the leader for career goals.

Chicago, New York and Montreal (1934–37)Edit

In 1932–33, Howie sustained some minor injuries - his production started to decline - yet he was still voted onto the second all-star selection. His production declined further in 1933–34 - mainly due to a broken ankle sustained in January 1933. In spite of the injuries, the Montreal Forum fans began to boo their one-time hero. He became frustrated and began resorting to rough play. Finally, Howie showed up in Leo Dandurand's office in tears. Perhaps to take some of the pressure off Howie, Leo traded him and Marty Burke along with goaltender Lorne Chabot to Chicago in exchange for Lionel Conacher, Roger Jenkins and Leroy Goldsworthy. Howie never warmed to the trade, but did accept it. He was valuable in helping his linemates Mush March and Johnny Gottselig score in 1934–35 and Chicago finished second in the American Division. Their playoff against the Montreal Maroons was evenly matched, as the Maroons scored the only goal in the series to win. Howie fared poorly in 1935–36 and caught the wrath of owner Frederic McLaughlin who ordered him benched. He was left out of the lineup next and then was traded to the New York Rangers.

The Canadiens had hit the bottom in 1935–36 and new owner Ernest Savard wanted Cecil Hart to manage and coach the team. He would only agree if Howie was brought back to the team. The team's owners and management expected Howie would be more of a morale booster, but in December 1936 and January 1937, Howie was starting to produce. He had scored four goals and 16 assists and might be his old self again. Then, tragedy struck.

Leg Injury and Subsequent Complications Edit


Morenz' funeral at the Montreal Forum


His career ended on January 28, 1937 when he suffered a multiple fracture broken leg in an accident along the boards with Earl Seibert, during a home game versus the Chicago Black Hawks. The injury did more than to just end his career, as it eventually took his life as a result of complications on March 8, 1937.

Things were going flawlessly for Howie at first in St. Luke's Hospital as he was recovering nicely. Friends and other players came to see him and brought him alcoholic drinks. Writers kept hearing him rave that he'd be back the next year, but he was not as optimistic as in the first two weeks. Finally, Howie became upset and suffered a nervous breakdown over reports suggesting a benefit game be played for him. Cecil Hart, Canadiens manager-coach, said the idea should be scrapped and visitors were banned. Phone calls would be restricted to members of Howie's family and Hart himself, who knew Howie was against a benefit game. The Canadiens' physician, Dr. J.A. Hector Forgues, X-rayed his leg and found blood clots on the morning of March 8, 1937. He scheduled an operation for the following day. But Howie, after telling a nurse he wanted to rest after eating a light supper, went to sleep, and his pallor suddenly changed. The nurse knew something was wrong. Attempts to revive him failed, and Howie died at the age of only 34. The cause of death was listed as a pulmonary embolism.

The Montreal Forum was turned into a shrine where a memorial was held for his thousands of loyal fans, many in tears, paid their respects to the gallant Canadien. His funeral was held at the Forum, and it was broadcast all over Canada. Thousands later lined the funeral cortege as Howie's body was taken for burial.



Morenz at the first NHL All-Star Game in 1934 in benefit of Ace Bailey. The second All-Star Game would be held in honour of Morenz

Howie was one of the first to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945. His jersey number, #7, was retired on November 2, 1937, the first time the Canadiens honoured a player as such On November 7, 1937, the Howie Morenz Memorial Game was played at the Forum, to raise money for the Morenz family. A combined team of Canadiens and Montreal Maroons was defeated 6–5 by a team of all-stars from the other six teams then in operation in the NHL (the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Americans, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs).

In 1950 the Canadian Press named Morenz the best ice hockey player of the first half of the twentieth century.

Morenz's daughter Marlene is the widow of fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie Geoffrion, who also played for the Canadiens and Rangers. When Geoffrion's number was retired on the night of his death on March 11, 2006, the team recognized the link between the two men. As Geoffrion's banner was being raised to the rafters, Morenz' banner was lowered halfway to the ice. Once Geoffrion's banner reached Morenz' banner, the two were raised together.


His son Howie Morenz,Jr. with the Dallas Texans.

In 1998 he was ranked 15th on the List of 100 greatest hockey players by The Hockey News.

Records once held by Howie MorenzEdit

  • Most goals in NHL history- 271, surpassed by Nels Stewart (324) and currently held by Wayne Gretzky (894)
  • Most points in NHL history- 472, surpassed by Nels Stewart (515) and currently held by Wayne Gretzky (2857)
  • Fastest player in NHL history to reach 400 career points- 435 GP, surpassed by Bill Cowley (411 GP) and currently held by Wayne Gretzky (197 GP).

Career statisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

    Regular Season   Playoffs
SeasonTeamLeague GPGAPtsPIM GPGAPtsPIM
1919–20 Stratford Midgets OHA-Jr. 5 14 4 18 7 14 12 26
1920–21 Stratford Midgets OHA-Jr. 8 19 12 31 13 38 18 56
1921–22 Stratford Midgets OHA-Jr. 4 17 6 23 10 5 17 4 21
1921–22 Stratford Indians OHA-Sr. 4 10 3 13 2 8 15 8 23 21
1922–23 Stratford Indians OHA-Sr. 10 15 13 28 19 10 28 7 35 36
1923–24 Montreal Canadiens NHL 24 13 3 16 20 6 7 3 10 10
1924–25 Montreal Canadiens NHL 30 28 11 39 46 6 7 1 8 8
1925–26 Montreal Canadiens NHL 31 23 3 26 39
1926–27 Montreal Canadiens NHL 44 25 7 32 49 4 1 0 1 4
1927–28 Montreal Canadiens NHL 43 33 18 51 66 2 0 0 0 12
1928–29 Montreal Canadiens NHL 42 17 10 27 47 3 0 0 0 6
1929–30 Montreal Canadiens NHL 44 40 10 50 72 6 3 0 3 10
1930–31 Montreal Canadiens NHL 39 28 23 51 49 10 1 4 5 10
1931–32 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 24 25 49 46 4 1 0 1 4
1932–33 Montreal Canadiens NHL 46 14 21 35 32 2 0 3 3 2
1933–34 Montreal Canadiens NHL 39 8 13 21 21 2 1 1 2 0
1934–35 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 48 8 26 34 21 2 0 0 0 0
1935–36 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 23 4 11 15 20
1935–36 New York Rangers NHL 19 2 4 6 6
1936–37 Montreal Canadiens NHL 30 4 16 20 12
NHL Totals 550 271 201 472 546 47 21 12 33 66



Award Year(s)
Art Ross Trophy 1928, 1931
Hart Memorial Trophy 1928, 1931, 1932
First All-Star Team Centre 1931, 1932
Second All-Star Team Centre 1933

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Herb Gardiner
Hart Trophy
Succeeded by
Roy Worters
Preceded by
Bill Cook
NHL Goal Leader
Succeeded by
Ace Bailey
Preceded by
Bill Cook
NHL Scoring Champion
Succeeded by
Ace Bailey
Preceded by
Cooney Weiland
NHL Scoring Champion
Succeeded by
Harvey Jackson
Preceded by
Nels Stewart
Hart Trophy
1931, 1932
Succeeded by
Eddie Shore

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Howie Morenz. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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