Editor's Note: 1967ers continues to shine a light on the forgotten history of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This entry is focused on a former captain and superstar that gave his life during the Great War.
"History is written by the victors." - Winston Churchill
(Not everything I write will come from Holzman and Nieforth's Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey - actually, quite a bit doesn't - but it's a good bet that this book will have influenced it. Seriously - go get a copy and read it. It's good. Wikipedia is also your friend.)
Lest We Forget
One of the things that has long irked me about the way the Leafs treat their history is that they begin it as of Feb. 14, 1927. This is the day that Conn Smythe bought the team, rechristened it the Maple Leafs (the name which until that point belonged to Toronto's baseball entry, the team that now plays out of Christie Pits).
Now, it's entirely within their rights to do this, but the consequence of it is that the history prior to that date - the teams, the players, the associated people and their accomplishments - are thrown down the memory hole and forgotten. I think they deserve better.
I was working a post or so ahead the other day and was looking for information on the 1914 Blueshirts. I found something I'd never read anywhere and was stunned enough by it that I want to present it here, out of sequence, just to make sure this name doesn't get lost in the rest of the narrative.
(The Blueshirts - via www.legendsofhockey.net)
This is a picture of the 1913-14 Toronto Blueshirts. They'd been put together only a year earlier and had lost their leading scorer, Frank Nighbour, after that first season. Still, in their second season, they finished atop the NHA, tied with the Habs.
The Habs and Blueshirts played a two-game, total-goals series to determine the champion of the NHA. After losing 2-0 in Montreal, Toronto stormed back to win the second game 6-0, giving them the O'Brien Trophy as league champion, plus the Stanley Cup as the new champ of the league that held the trophy. They then went on to defend this in the last Cup of the challenge era by defeating the Victoria Aristocrats of the PCHA by three games to none. (After this, there would be a formal playoff between the NHA and PCHA champions to determine the Stanley Cup winner. No more challenges.)
Back to the team, though.
The fellow sitting in the centre of the front row, wearing the cardigan, is team captain Allan "Scotty" Davidson. He was a big guy, a powerful skater with a big shot. He was defensively responsible and could play well in either end (think Burke is looking for someone like this?). He'd been a star in junior in the OHA with Kingston and had scored 19 goals as a rookie for Toronto in 1912-13.
In 1913-14, Scotty led the blueshirts in scoring with 23 goals and 13 assists in 20 games. He scored two goals in the 6-0 win over Montreal to claim the league championship and then added another in two games against Victoria (injury? That was a three-game series and there's no way he was sat out).
When war broke out in 1914, Scotty Davidson volunteered for service. The Blueshirts missed his presence and slumped badly in 1914-15 (they'd be bought by Livingstone a year later). Scotty died in Belgium on June 16, 1915 and is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial. He was 24 years old.
The shenanigans of Calder and the NHA owners cost us the blueshirts, and the Leafs' choice of history cost us the stories, and that's bad for us, but they also cost Scotty Davidson his place in Toronto hockey lore, and that's not right.
The 1914 Blueshirts were laden with Hall-of-famers and I'll get to each of them in time, but if you only remember one name, make it Allan "Scotty" Davidson, captain of the 1914 Cup champion Bluleshirts, died in the muddy fields of WWI.
Allan was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1950.
the HHOF listing:
"Allan "Scotty" Davidson was a one of the more phenomenal talents of his time. He dominated in junior and was an impact player in the NHA before he was lost while serving his country in World War I. He was remembered as a powerful skater with a lethal shot who back-checked responsibly and played the game cleanly.
The Kingston, Ontario native learned the game under the coaching of Captain James T. Sutherland. Davidson was a standout on the Kingston Frontenacs, a junior team, in 1909-10 and 1910-11 when they captured the OHA title both years. During the second triumph, Davidson led the club back from a three-goal deficit in the first game to send them on their way.
In 1912-13, Davidson was signed by the Toronto Blueshirts of the NHA. He lined up at right wing and quickly made himself indispensable with 19 goals in 20 games. The next year he scored 23 times and was a leader on the squad that won the Stanley Cup in 1914. Davidson enlisted for military service after World War I broke out in 1914 and was killed in Belgium on June 6, 1915. The former star whose career was far too short took his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950."