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02-15-2013, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by LOH
A stellar two-way defenseman, Herb Gardiner didn't make a name for himself until relatively late in his career. He was proficient at the amateur level in western Canada before traveling east to play in the NHL. Gardiner was a rock on the defense corps of every team he played on, and he was also respected for his consistent play through each season. During the late 1920s, he formed one of hockey's most successful defensive duos with Sylvio Mantha.

He and Dutton provided stellar work in their own end against the likes of superstars George Hay, Dick Irvin and Barney Stanley. Gardiner scored a key goal in the first match at Regina, which ended in a 2-2 deadlock. The Tigers clinched the total-goals series with a 2-0 win on home ice.

Despite the Tigers' setback, Gardiner made a strong impression on the Montreal management. The most notable feature of the contest from a Calgary perspective was that defensemen Dutton and Gardiner gave no ground to Sprague Cleghorn and Billy Coutu on the winning side.

Recalling his excellent play two years earlier, the Canadiens invited Gardiner to training camp in 1926. The experienced defender represented a vital addition to the Montreal defensive brigade when he joined the team that year. His play was so impressive with the rebuilding Montreal franchise that he was awarded the Hart Trophy as league MVP - no small achievement, as he beat out New York Rangers superstar Bill Cook to cop the award. During this time, he formed one the NHL's most proficient duos on defense with Sylvio Mantha.
As both a defenseman and coach, [B]Gardiner always put his keen understanding of the game to excellent use. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette, 26 March 1927
Gardiner's selection as the winner of the Hart Trophy comes as no surprise. This veteran from the prairie, who came to Canadiens this season from Calgary, has been credited with much of the success that the team has attained. He not only has proved a star at left defence, but he has travelled practically 60 minutes in all games; has taken few penalties, but above all, has been the inspiration to the team from the first. He generals them on the ice and when they show signs of crumbling, he always cuts loose with speedy hockey which serves to rally his teammates. His generalship has been the big factor in Canadiens' triumphs and his example as a clean player has been a benefit to the club.
Originally Posted by
A surveyor by trade, Herb Gardiner was also one of hockey’s greats of his time. Born in Winnipeg in 1891, he was a dominant amateur defenseman for many years before turning pro with the Calgary Tigers of the West Coast Hockey League at the age of 29.

The transition was a successful one and Gardiner continued his stellar play, recognized as one of the top rearguards in the circuit. The Tigers travelled east in 1924 to challenge for the Stanley Cup but lost to the Canadiens, who invited Gardiner to their training camp in the fall of 1926 when the PCHL ceased operations.

He accepted and spent the next three years in the NHL, closing out his career as a member of the Canadiens. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound blue-liner was one of the bigger men in the game and among the strongest. Playing in an era that featured a far more brutal form of play than is accepted today, Gardiner was in his element when the going got rough.

As he had done in the past, the 35-year-old Gardiner quickly established himself as one of the NHL’s most skilled and consistent blue-liners. His smooth play and sound work in his own end was complemented by defense partner Sylvio Mantha’s playmaking and utterly fearless approach to the game, making the duo one of the top defensive pairings in the game.
Originally Posted by The Vancouver Sun, 2 Feb 1937
He stressed science more than bruising brawn. In his heyday he was considered one of the cleverest and smoothest defencemen in the league.
Originally Posted by The Calgary Daily Herald, 27 August 1928
As a good sport, a clever player and a clean athlete, Herb has no superior in the ice game, but it is very questionable if he would enjoy much success as a manager.

In the first place, Gardiner has always been a good fellow with his mates, and this is never a good feature when it comes to management.

Gardiner is one of those 60-minute players seldom found in the sporting ranks today, and and when a man keys himself up for this strenuous task he can ill afford to squander his energy in the consuming flame of worry.

And Gardiner is that sort of fellow who would show so much concern in the affairs of his team that he would wear down under the strain of worry. He is a top notch player, but in the role of manager, it is safe to predict that his efficiency would be materially reduced.

True, he has few equals as player, but he hasn't experimented as strategian.
Originally Posted by [B]The Morning Leader, 3 Jan 1923[B]
There is some talk of Dutton and Benson teaming up together on the defence, and Herb Gardiner, the playing manager, taking up the centre ice position.

It is figured that Gardiner, with his bullet shot, would greatly strengthen the Tigers' attack. Playing forward will be nothing new to Gardiner, as he only shifted back to the defence two or three years ago. He is aggressive, a fast skater, and a good shot, and would be able to rush through for a lot of rebounds.
Originally Posted by [B]Gettysburg Times, 12 Jan 1972[B]
Gardiner, a suburban Upper Darby resident, gained an "Iron Man" reputation after playing every minute of 48-game season with the Montreal Canadiens in 1926.
Originally Posted by The Calgary Daily Herald, 5 Mar 1925
No finer sporting spirit could have been evinced than that of Herb Gardiner, playing manager of the club, who left a sick bed to battle the way through to the leadership with his mates. It was a great risk, but the stalwart defence man took it, and the example of his pluck was no doubt reflected on the rest of the club.
Originally Posted by Edmonton Journal, 7 Feb 1920
...Mickey O'Leary, taking a smart pass from Herb Gardiner...

Herb Gardiner and Arbour made history for themselves, plugging through with great strength on the rushes and battering the Eskimos down on heavy attacks.
Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen, 21 Feb 1927
There is no question about the forward line of the Flying Frenchmen. Morenz, Joliat, Gagne and Lepine form a quartet of super-stars and on the other end the Canadiens are not lacking in high-class material. George Hainsworth in the nets is one of the best of net guardinas and if there is a better defenceman in hockey than Herb Gardiner, he is not visible to the naked eye.
Originally Posted by The Calgary Daily Herald, 15 Dec 1925
Herb Gardiner was his old foxy self and broke up countless rushes.
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette, 28 Dec 1927
Gardiner pulled off the most sensational rush of the night, and Connell kicked out his vicious drive.
Stalwart Tiger defense man, who started his team on its way to victory by scoring the first goal.” – The Calgary Daily Herald – March 17, 1924
“… Along with Herb Gardiner, the speedy captain of the Calgary Wanderers….” – Edmonton Journal – January 21, 1920
“Gardiner raced end to end after MacKay went down, and was clean through, but _______ tripped him….

Herb Gardiner dashed down alone on a nice effort and showed some classy stickhandling, but his shot was blocked by _______.” – The Calgary Daily Herald – March 13, 1924
“__________ and Herb Gardiner are the two foxiest defenders in the game.” – The Vancouver Sun – January 14, 1924
“The Tiger boss is certain of Harb Gardiner, the stalwart defence star who is regarded as the finest man at his position in hockey today.” – The Calgary Daily Herald – February 2, 1924
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 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.
1926-27 NHL Hart Memorial Trophy

7th in defenseman scoring in 1926-27

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