Travelling still isn’t easy, especially in poor weather, but back in 1929, Eddie Shore had a full-on adventure trying to get from Boston to Montreal for an important hockey game. Even though the trip took him over 20 hours, on January 3, he led the Bruins to victory over the Maroons.
The Boston Bruins took an overnight train to Montreal on January 2. A friend was driving Shore to North Station to catch the train when his car broke down. Shore tried to fix the car, but he only arrived in time to watch the train leave. As Shore later told Stan Fischler, “Mr. Ross didn’t know it, but I was running down the station platform trying to jump on the last car of the train. I didn’t make it and had just missed the train because my taxi had been tied up in a traffic accident coming across town.” Shore knew that he would be heavily fined by Bruins general manager Art Ross for missing the train and that his team was short on players thanks to injuries. “I knew I’d be in a jam if I blew that game.” Unfortunately, the next express train would not reach Montreal before the game, and all flights had been cancelled because of the Nor’easter sleet storm.
Shore’s only option was to drive over 320 miles to Montreal. He hired a car for $100 and left Boston at about 11:30. As Shore put it, “It was a lot of money, but I figured it would cost me twice as much if I didn’t show.” The winding roads through New Hampshire’s White Mountains were not highways or sanded/salted, and the sleet turned into a blizzard. Shore told his driver that he “was not happy at the rate he was traveling. . . . He apologized and said he didn’t have chains and didn’t like driving in the winter. The poor fellow urged me to turn back to Boston.” When the car almost skidded into a ditch, Shore took over the driving and stopped at a service station for tire chains. Back on the road, the wiper blades froze, and Shore recalled, “I had no visibility so I removed the top half of the windshield.” That left Shore’s face exposed to the elements but able to steer. As dawn approached, the car “began losing traction. The tire chains had worn out.” Fortunately, Shore saw lights (for a construction camp) and was able to get new chains. As Shore remembered the ride, “We skidded off the road four times, but each time we managed to get the car back on the highway again.” By the afternoon, Shore needed a rest. “I felt that a short nap would put me in good shape. All I asked of the driver was that he go at least 12 miles an hour and stay in the middle of the road.” However, the second pair of chains broke, and the driver crashed into a ditch in the Quebec countryside.
Since neither Shore nor his driver was injured, Shore hiked about a mile to the nearest farmhouse for help. According to Shore, “I paid $8 for a team of horses, harnessed the horses and pulled the car out of the ditch. We weren’t too far from Montreal, and I thought we’d make it in time if I could keep the car on the road.” According to his biographer, C. Michael Hiam, the farmer gave Shore and the driver a ride on the sleigh to the railroad station to catch a train to Montreal. Either way, about 5:30 p.m., Shore finally made it to the Windsor Hotel, where the Bruins were staying and where the NHL had been founded 11 years before.
When Shore staggered in, Ross assessed the scene. “He was in no condition for hockey. His eyes were bloodshot, his face frostbitten and windburned, his fingers bent and set like claws after gripping the steering wheel so long. And he couldn’t walk straight. I figure his legs were almost paralyzed from hitting the brake and clutch.” To recover, Shore had a big steak dinner and took a nap. “I was tired all right, but I thought a 20- or 30-minute nap would be enough, then I’d be set to play.” His teammates Dit Clapper and Cooney Weiland had trouble waking him again until Weiland poured several glasses of water on his face. Although Ross told him not to play, Shore insisted. Ross explained, “I knew how durable he was, but there’s a limit to human endurance. I finally decided to let him get on the ice, but at the first sign of weakness or sleepwalking I’d send him to the dressing room.” Instead, Shore played for 56 minutes, only stopping for his two penalties.
During the game, Shore drew the first penalty of night, a minor for charging Hooley Smith. He had another minor called on him in the third period. These four minutes amounted to half of the Bruins’ total penalty minutes for the game. On the other hand, the Maroons amassed 21 penalty minutes. About mid-way through the second period, Montreal had two men in the penalty box at the same time when Nels Stewart earned a major for cross-checking (and then was fined $50 for his remarks to the referee) and Hicks received a minor for holding. With a two-man advantage, Shore scored the only goal of the game. The Montreal Gazette described his play. “Shore blocked a Maroon attack and taking the puck down alone, picked his way through the Maroons one by one. Dutton shied him off to the side, and the big Bruin defenceman raced in behind Walsh’s goal and around to the other side where he flipped a backhander past the bewildered Maroon net minder. Shore was barely three feet from the left goal post when he let fly and Walsh had no chance to save.” Shore later told an interviewer, “I can remember exactly how my shot went. It was low, about six inches off the ice, and went hard into the right corner of the net.” The Gazette noted, “The Bruins won on a craftily planned offensive that made the most of every opportunity offered, back up by sound defensive play.” The paper credited Shore with holding off the Maroons in the third “last ten minutes of scraggy hockey.”
The game was the first complete appearance for Maroons goalie Flat Walsh, and the Gazette thought he played in “sensational fashion.” Although, the Gazette admitted, he was not as sensational as rookie Tiny Thompson, who earned his fifth shutout. The only puck to get past him that game was “disallowed owing to offside.” The Bruins went on to win their first Stanley Cup at the end of the season.
- Eric Zweig, Art Ross: The Hockey Legend Who Built the Bruins (Toronto: Dundurn, 2015), 203.
- “Penalties Cause Maroons’ Defeat as Bruins Win, 1-0,” Montreal Gazette, 4 Jan. 1929, p. 16.
- “Bruins Shut Out Montreal Maroons,” Boston Globe, 4 Jan. 1929, p. 31.