Longtime New York Rangers announcer Jack Filman was once asked the origins of the word "hockey." He replied that it was from an aboriginal word, hoghee, that meant, "it hurts!" Hockey history is full of such myths, and the purpose of this blog is to take a closer look at them and discuss the surrounding historical issues. (BTW hockey probably originates with the French word, hoquet, which referred to the hooked shape of the sticks used to play similar stick-and-ball games.)

Should Howard McNamara be in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

On the Hockey Hall of Fame citation for George McNamara, it is noted that he and his brother Howard were known as the "Dynamite Twins" during their playing days. They weren't really twins, but if the moniker measured their playing ability, then why isn't Howard also in the Hall of Fame?

The tale of the tape:

* George, a defenceman, had 39 goals and 13 assists over 8 seasons or 138 games (excluding exhibition game totals and his 2 goals in 3 playoff games). That's 0.28 goals per game or 0.38 points per game.

* Howard, also a defenceman, had 47 goals and 17 assists over 11 seasons or 134 games (excluding exhibition game totals and he had no playoff points). That's 0.35 goals per game, or 0.48 points per game.

Since the two often played on the same team, in the same league, and with a similar style, these statistics are probably comparable. If so, the advantage goes to Howard.

Howard was also known for his size (6 feet, 240 lbs - which was HUGE in that era) and for obvious reasons, dominated opponents physically. No evidence on George's dimensions.

Both won the Stanley Cup, but with different teams.

Not much to choose from it seems, so why is only one twin the Hall?

Here's a possible explanation from Frank Selke Sr., who was on the Hall of Fame nominating committee. In a letter to Mike Rodden, sportswriter and former NHL referee, Selke wrote:

"Between ourselves Mike - when George was admitted [to the Hall] Howard's wife told a friend of mine that George could not carry Howard's skates. I asked [Art] Ross and Lester [Patrick] about this and they said, which one was Howard?"

Twins indeed.


I've always thought there was a need for the study of sportswriting, especially the 1920s and 1930s.

The New York papers are where the trade really flourished, with scribes like Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Ring Lardner, et al. There are several memoirs of this era (Paul Gallico, Stanley Woodward) which are full of tales (some taller than others), and even a oral history by Jerome Holtzman, No Cheering in the Press Box, which chronicles some of the better- and lesser-known writers.

There are some Canadian contributions by Jim Vipond, Jim Coleman, and Milt Dunnell, as well as my favourtie, Down the Stretch by W.A. Hewitt (father of Foster). For a taste, here is an online memoir by Charles Templeton, jack-of-all-trades and master of the same. He has great stories about Mike Rodden, former Globe sports editor, whose papers now reside in the Queen's University Archives. Other journalist papers I have run into include Dink Carroll of The Montreal Star (McGill University Archives), Charles Mayer of Le Petit Journal (Library and Archives Canada) and Harold Kaese of the Boston Globe (Boston Public Library Special Collections). There may be more...