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.


Waxy said...

Dear Sir I fell upon your article by researching the McNamaras' and Corbeaus' as part of my duties with the Penetanguishene Sports Hall of Fame. I am very curious to know why would this question be entertained or want prompted the enquiry. I am not an expert on their ability but I can tell you that the McNamaras', Corbeaus' and Amos Arbour were very close all being raised in the same area. I am very intested to hear if you receive further enquiries or chat on the subject........thanks Waxy

JAR said...

Waxy, the question was prompted by the fact that, of the two McNamara twins, Howard seems to have been the superior player.

Irvin said...