Jack Shill - everyone has a story to tell.
One of the reasons I've kept up with the Leaf of the Day for as long as I have is that I learn something new each time I write one. It's not always something profound. With Bunny Larocque, for example, the only new thing I learned the other day was that he was in net when the Sabres scored nine times in one period, a still-standing NHL record. I also learned a couple of things about Jiri Crha that will serve me well eventually.
It does happen, though, that I learn a lot about someone. Perhaps the best example of this is Jack Shill.
I'd never heard of Jack when I picked up his card. I bought it because I hardly had any 1936-37s and the name made me smile. I'd heard TSN and various others described as "Leaf shills" often enough that I thought it would be funny to have a literal Shill for the LotD.
As for Jack himself, I assumed he was some fringe guy that happened to have had a card made that year. In large measure, that's what he was, but he turned out to be pretty interesting, all the same. Everyone has a story. Jack has a few.
Jack Shill had kind of a round appearance but was an excellent skater. His potential was basically limited to "depth forward" at the NHL level but he was able to fill that role for four teams over six seasons. He filled in with Conacher and Primeau on the Kid Line at times, and with Apps and Drillon at others. It was with these lines that he tended to pick up his points.
Jack, a Toronto kid, came up to the Leafs through the Marlies program, playing with them at both the junior and senior levels. At 21, he got his first call-up to the Leafs, dressing for seven regular season games and then a pair of playoff games, replacing King Clancy in the lineup (I kind of doubt he played on the blue line, likely someone else shifted back and he became the spare forward).
The Leafs had enough depth for '34-35 that he was loaned to Boston for the year. He played the full season in Boston, contributing four goals and four assists, then got into two playoff games as Boston lost to the Leafs.
For '35-36, he was back in the Leaf system. He only got to play three games in the regular season, but then dressed for their entire playoff run as the Leafs lost in the Final to Detroit. He'd play all of 1936-37 with the big club.
1936-37 was a big transition year for the Leafs. Joe Primeau was gone. King Clancy would play the last six games of his career. George Hainsworth was replaced in goal by a Manitoba kid named Broda. A young Olympian named Syl Apps won the Calder playing alongside another rookie named Gordie Drillon. At season's end, he and Hap Day both became New York Americans. Jack fetched the rights to a young Wally Stanowski in return. Wally would be an NHL All-Star by 1941.
(A lot of Leafs wound up playing for the Americans. Beyond Day and Shill, Conacher would wind up there (via Detroit) and five more (including Busher Jackson) would go in a 1939 trade for Sweeney Schriner. It didn't help. The Americans ceased to exist in 1942.)
Jack's stay in New York was short. In January, 1938, he joined the struggling Chicago Black Hawks. Chicago had won a Cup in 1934 but was slumping badly. They couldn't score goals and they had an even tougher time keeping them out. They did managed to squeak into the final playoff spot with a 14-25-9 record.
Once in the playoffs, Chicago stunned the hockey world by advancing all the way to the Stanley Cup Final against heavily-favoured Toronto. Jack had an assist in the deciding game against the Americans but saved his best moment for the clincher in the Final. Chicago went up 1-0 when Cully Dahlstrom banged home a Shill rebound, but Drillon tied it for Toronto shortly after. Late in the second period, the Leaf defense got crossed up and Chicago got a second goal. A minute later, Jack Shill chipped the puck high into the air from near his own blue line. It came down behind the Leaf defense and took a funny hop on Broda, beating him five-hole. Chicago would add a fourth goal in the third and that was all she wrote. It was Chicago's last Cup until 1961. It was also Jack's only NHL playoff goal.
The next season, Jack had a serious back injury against Toronto that cost him half the season. That was basically it for him in the NHL. He'd play in the AHL until 1942 (and was part of the very first AHL All-Star game), then joined the Army. He was reinstated as an amateur and played senior hockey in the Toronto area until 1948, when a second back injury ended his playing days. He coached senior hockey in Toronto for a number of years after that.
For 20 years, Jack Shill owned the record for the fastest recorded hat trick in hockey. On March 16, 1932, playing for the Marlies in Maple Leaf Gardens, he scored three goals in 32 seconds and added a fourth goal later. These games appear not to show as part of the Marlies stats (see Jack's 1932 stats below - those playoff games appear to be OHL playoffs, not Memorial Cup playoffs), but the source is here. Bill Mosienko would score a 21-second hat trick in 1952.
Not bad at all for a guy I'd never heard of. It pays to dig.
Visit the Jack Shill Gallery at the HHOF.
Jack Shill's stats:
|1933-34||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||7||0||1||1||0||2||0||0||0||0|
|1933-34||Toronto British Consols||TMHL||8||3||3||6||36|
|1935-36||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||3||0||1||1||0||9||0||3||3||8|
|1936-37||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||32||4||4||8||26||2||0||0||0||0|
|1937-38||New York Americans||NHL||22||1||3||4||10|
|1937-38||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||23||4||3||7||8||10||1||3||4||15|
|1938-39||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||28||2||4||6||4|
|1942-43||Toronto Research Colonels||TIHL||2||0||0||0||0|
|1943-44||Toronto Tip Tops||TIHL||21||20||15||35||5|
|1945-46||Toronto Maher Jewels||TIHL||33||30||33||63||26||10||5||15||20||8|
|1946-47||Toronto Maher Jewels||TIHL||28||9||19||28||6|
|1947-48||Toronto Maher Jewels||TIHL||6||4||2||6||2|
Brother of Bill
IHL First All-Star Team (1936)
- Loaned to Boston by Toronto for 1934-35 season for cash, May 12, 1934.
- Traded to NY Americans by Toronto for the rights to Wally Stanowski, October 17, 1937.
- Traded to Chicago by NY Americans for cash, January 26, 1938.
- Traded to Providence (IAHL) by Chicago for cash, October 24, 1939.
- Rights traded to Buffalo (AHL) by Providence (AHL) for Jacques Toupin, October 29, 1942.
- Suffered career-ending back injury in game vs. Toronto Barkers (TIHL), December 8, 1948.
What the HHOF has to say about Jack:
Born and raised in Toronto, Jack Shill played for the Toronto Marlboros in the OHA from 1929 to 1933. He made the jump to the NHL for the 1933-34 season, with the Maple Leafs, of course.
Shill played nine games that season for the Leafs while playing the majority of the year with the Marlies. He was loaned to the Boston Bruins for the 1934-35 season where he played 45 games with the NHL club. Shill then returned to the Leafs for the next season, only to play the majority of his games with the IAHL's Syracuse Stars where he became a first all-star team member.
The 1936-37 season marked Shill's first full year with the Leafs before being traded to the New York Americans prior to the 1937-38 season. After playing 22 games for New York, Shill was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks where he finished the regular season as a Hawk and helped the team in the post season. The Hawks faced Shill's recent team, the Americans, in the semi-finals and sent them home after winning two games to one. In the Stanley Cup finals, the Hawks faced yet another former team of Shill's, the Leafs. Chicago claimed its second championship and Shill's first and only Cup.
Shill played one more season in the NHL before moving on to the AHL and finally hanging up his skates in the 1942-43 season.