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08-13-2012, 01:07 PM
MLD Glue Guy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: BC, Canada
Country: Canada
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G Billy Nicholson

5'10, 220

1902, 1903 Stanley Cup Champion

Ultimate Hockey
William Nicholson was one of the fattest men ever to play hockey at the semi-professional or professional level. Originally the goalie for the Montreal AAA "Little Men of Iron" -- circa 1901 -- he has been called the first true "butterfly" goalie. He was flopping to the ice to make saves at least 10 years before Clint Benedict, the goalie who has been generally credited with pioneering the style.

Throughout most of his career Nicholson was a solid, dependable goalkeeper. He played on some poor teams, such as the 1907-08 Shamrocks and 1912-13 Toronto Tecumsehs. He rounded out his career with the Toronto Arenas in 1916-17.

The sight of Nicholson in full uniform, wearing his trademark toque and weighing anywhere from 250 to 275 pounds, must have been delicious. Apparently, whenever he crashed down onto the ice to make a save, everyone would hold their breath in fear that the ice would crack. He was surprisingly athletic, though, despite the constraints of his plus-sized frame. His career, while not of Hockey Hall of Fame caliber, compares favorably to the goaltending standard of his era.
Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 21, 1904 (originally posted by seventieslord)
Nicholson was in fine form and he needed it... the last couple of minutes, the Maroon jerseys sent in shot after shot and Nicholson had to move his padding over the glacial... Caps came very close to scoring when Sims got in, but Nick did his old trick of sliding out and falling down on the puck.
Pittsburgh Press, Jan. 8, 1905 (originally posted by seventieslord)
Nicholson played a wonderful game, stopping shot after shot that looked like a score for the gold and black.
Montreal Gazette, Dec. 22, 1908 (originally posted by seventieslord)
Another local addition to the ranks of the challengers today will be Billy Nicholson, goalkeeper of the Shamrock team of last winter that had the best defense record in the ECHA. "Nick" last night agreed to turn out today and help Edmonton during their training for the cup series, and it would not be surprising if he appeared in the challengers' lineup before the series is over. At his best there are few better net guardians in the business than the big fellow who has played successfully with Montreal, Wanderers, Calumet and Shamrocks.
Moran, LeSueur, Hern.... Nicholson?

These four are truly contemporaries, all born between 1877 and 1891. The earliest of their statistically recorded careers started in the 1900 season (Nicholson) and ended in the 1917 season (Nicholson, Moran). During this time, they all played in a variety of leagues, getting a good sample of competition, scoring level, and rules. For an eight-year period from the 1904 season, when Lesueur started, through 1911, when Hern retired, these four were all active in top-level hockey together.

It is my contention that Nicholson's goaltending stats stand up very well to those of these three HHOF goaltenders:

 Reg.      St-Cup      

Why did they get in the hall and he didn't?

They are all multiple cup winners; however, he faced probably the stiffest competition in his cup matches, along with Hern, yet, he has the best playoff GAA of the four.

Was it a longevity thing? No, he played more games than LeSueur and a lot more than Hern.

Was it his GAA? Doesn't look like it. His career average edges Hern and is significantly better than Lesueur and Moran.

Then it must be his win%, barely over .500. However, Moran made it into the Hall with a losing record. And although GAA is a team stat, it tells a better story of his individual performance than win% does.

What about honours and awards? That's not it, either. Nicholson was a champion in two other leagues, a league all-star in two leagues, and led leagues in GAA and wins multiple times, just as often as the other three did.

In all honesty, it's pretty hard to tell what made them any better than him.
The Montreal Gazette, Jan 21, 1908
The shooting was directed at goal-keeper Billy Nicholson's big frame. Billy stopped more with his body protector than pads or stick.

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