Last modified on 16 April 2009, at 19:30

History of the National Hockey League/1917–1942/Great Depression/Howie Morenz

Howie MorenzEdit

At the same time as other teams folded, the league reduced its salary cap to $62,500 per team, and $7,000 per player. Several well-paid star players were traded as teams attempted to fit under the cap. The biggest name was Montreal's Howie Morenz, a three-time Hart Trophy winner, two-time scoring leader and the face of the Canadiens organization. Drawing only 2,000 fans per game in an arena that held 10,000, Canadiens owner Leo Dandurand sent his star to the Black Hawks. The Montreal fans voiced their opinion of the deal by giving Morenz a standing ovation when he scored against the Canadiens on the last day of the 1935 season. Less than two seasons later, Morenz was traded back to Montreal after a brief time playing for the Rangers.

On January 28, 1937, Morenz's skate caught on the ice while he was being checked by Chicago's Earl Seibert, suffering a broken leg in four places. On March 8, Morenz died of a coronary embolism. Morenz's teammate, Aurel Joliat, had a different explanation of his death: "Howie loved to play hockey more than anyone ever loved anything, and when he realized that he would never play again, he couldn't live with it. I think Howie died of a broken heart." On the day of his funeral, 50,000 people filed past Morenz's casket at centre ice of the Montreal Forum to pay their last respects to the man the media called "the Babe Ruth of hockey". A benefit game held in November 1937 raised $20,000 for Morenz's family as the NHL All-Stars defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6–5. Morenz was one of the first players elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame when it was created in 1945.