ATD 2012 Bios Thread (as complete as possible: pic, quotes, stats, sources, etc)
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02-07-2012, 01:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Some new (Haven't sen this source yet) information I have found on
Gardiner was the first of 12 Canadiens to win the award, though there's no record of his being given the key to the city of Montreal in tribute, as was Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin in Washington last week for his winning the 2008 Hart.
No defenceman had won the trophy before Gardiner; in its three-year history, it had gone to forwards Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators, Billy Burch of the Hamilton Tigers and the Montreal Maroons' Nels Stewart.
Born May 10, 1891, in Winnipeg,
Gardiner turned pro in 1918 with the Calgary Wanderers. From 1921-26, he sparkled with the Calgary Tigers of the Western Canada Hockey League
, paired on the blue line with future Hall of Famer, NHL president and Stanley Cup trustee Mervyn (Red) Dutton.
A legendsofhockey.net biography recalls
Gardiner's impressive play and key goal in the 1924 WCHL championship final against Regina
, a two-game, 4-2 total-goals victory over an opponent that featured George Hay, Dick Irvin and Barney Stanley.
The Tigers were little match for the Canadiens in their challenge for the 1924 Stanley Cup, outgunned in Montreal by the speedy Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat. But not escaping the Canadiens' attention was the fact that their stars Sprague Cleghorn and Billy Coutu were bottled up by the Tigers' strong defence.
At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, he was paired with Sylvio Mantha on the blue line as the Canadiens beat the crosstown Maroons in the playoffs' first round before being eliminated by eventual Stanley Cup champion Ottawa.
It was a different hockey landscape than that where Gardiner had
first played seriously in a senior Winnipeg circuit in 1908; a year later, his team won the city's prestigious banker's-league title.
But Gardiner didn't see a future in hockey and quit the game for four years
In his 2003 book Players, historian Andrew Podnieks writes that Gardiner toiled as a surveyor for Canadian Pacific Railways before
joining the Canadian army in 1915, medically discharged after three years of war service overseas
. He returned home to settle in Calgary, a surveyor by summer and hockey player in the winter, finally challenging for the Stanley Cup with the Tigers.
Bill Cook of the New York Rangers seemed the obvious choice for the 1926-27 Hart Trophy, with a league-leading 33 goals in 44 games.
But the award went instead to Gardiner, whose six goals and six assists were outweighed by his leadership and rock-solid defensive work.
Gardiner remained in Montreal for 1927-28, scoring four times and assisting on three through the full 44-game slate. The playoffs were another disappointment - the Canadiens knocked out Ottawa before being ousted by the Maroons, Gardiner and former Tigers teammate Red Dutton (who extracted a few of Morenz's teeth with a butt-end) jousting throughout the latter two-game series.
The Habs loaned Gardiner to Chicago as playing coach the following season, though his record behind the bench was less than distinguished - in 44 games, Chicago won only seven, scored only 33 goals and surrendered 85, all league highs, missing the playoffs by 25 points as arguably the worst offensive club in NHL history.
The Canadiens recalled him for the playoffs, but Boston swept Montreal in three games and Gardiner's playing days were done. Sold to the Bruins, he wound up in Philadelphia, coaching minor-pro teams with some success through 1946.
Gardiner was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958, 14 years before his death at age 80.
He had played just 108 regular-season NHL games and nine in the playoffs, having brought with him the brilliant talent he had showcased out west.
Perhaps it was Gardiner's Hart Trophy that swung the Hall vote. Maybe it was that he
was a dominant blue-liner across the land
; that he'd supported the league-leading 14 shutouts of Canadiens goaltender George Hainsworth in 1926-27.
But there is little debate about his worthiness, which put him atop an illustrious list of Canadiens who have won the Hart a total of 16 times.
He isn't the most famous Canadien celebrated on the historic trophy. But on a team steeped in history, Herb Gardiner achieved something none other can claim: he was the first among many Montreal legends voted the best in his league, so immortalized by the engraver's pen.
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