Shore, Edward William ("Eddie")

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SHORE, Edward William ("Eddie")

(b. 25 November 1902 in Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, Canada; d. 16 March 1985 in Springfield, Massachusetts), eight-time All-Star defenseman and four-time National Hockey League (NHL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) who was known for his skill and toughness and who led the Boston Bruins to two Stanley Cup Championships between 1926 and 1939.

Shore, one of seven children born to John T. Shore, a rancher, and Katherine Spanier Shore, a homemaker, never dreamed of becoming a hockey player while growing up in Saskatchewan. However, Shore's attitude changed abruptly when his skill and toughness were questioned by his brother Aubrey, who played for Manitoba Agricultural College in Winnipeg, where both were students. Embarrassed and angry, Shore responded by maneuvering his way onto the team and playing in the final three games of the college schedule. From such humble beginnings grew a legendary career.

Shore began his professional career as a forward with the Regina Capitals of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL), which became the Western Hockey League for the 1925–1926 season. Traded to the Edmonton Eskimos on 7 October 1925, Shore converted to defense but lost neither his aggressive instincts nor his scoring touch. When the Western Hockey League, unable to compete financially with the National Hockey League (NHL), suspended operations in 1926, league president Frank Patrick orchestrated what is probably the biggest transaction in the history of sports. He sold the entire Western Hockey League to the NHL. On 20 August 1926 Charles F. Adams, owner of the Boston Bruins, purchased Shore's contract over the objections of head coach Art Ross, who doubted Shore's ability. Shore wasted little time changing Ross's mind.

When Shore arrived in Boston in 1926, the Bruins were a mediocre club, having finished fourth in a seven-team league the previous season. He made an immediate impact, propelling Boston to second place in the NHL's new American Division. Between 1928 and 1931 the Bruins won four consecutive division titles, capturing the Stanley Cup in 1929. Shore also aided the franchise at the ticket window. Even after the team had lost in the 1927 Stanley Cup finals to the Ottawa Senators, fans submitted more than 29,000 applications for season tickets. Most wanted to see the acclaimed "Edmonton Express."

Shore rarely, if ever, disappointed them. During a brilliant fourteen-year career, he was a First-Team All-Star seven times and a Second-Team All-Star once. In 1933 he became the first defenseman to win the Hart Memorial Trophy as most valuable player, having finished second in the balloting to Howie Morenz two years earlier. To prove the award justified, Shore won it three more times, in 1935, 1936, and 1938. No other defenseman, not even the incomparable Bobby Orr, has matched Shore's accomplishment.

With unwavering resolve, Shore also overcame virtually any injury or obstacle to play. In one contest against the Montreal Maroons, Shore broke his nose, lost three teeth, and suffered two black eyes, a two-inch cut over the left eye, and a deep gash along his cheekbone. He was in the lineup for the next game. Cracking two ribs when checked into the goal post, Shore fled while the Bruins team physician was arranging to have him admitted to the hospital. He played the next night, scoring two goals and collecting an assist. With an ear nearly severed, Shore refused anesthetic and asked only for a mirror so that he could observe the doctor reattach it. "I made him change the very last stitch," Shore remarked. "If I had not done that, he'd have left a scar."

When an accident in downtown Boston snarled traffic and prevented Shore from catching a train to Montreal for a game, he appropriated a wealthy friend's chauffeur and limousine. Inclement weather induced the chauffeur to abandon the journey; Shore took the wheel, driving all night in a blizzard across the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Arriving in Montreal, he played 58 of 60 minutes, his only respite coming while confined to the penalty box, and tallied the lone goal in a 1–0 Bruins victory.

These herculean labors notwithstanding, Shore's reputation was forever tarnished by a dreadful incident that almost cost Irvine ("Ace") Bailey his life. In a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Garden on 12 December 1933, King Clancy and Red Horner checked Shore into the boards. Evidently mistaking Bailey for one of his assailants, Shore leveled him with a vicious check from behind. "I looked back," Clancy recalled, "saw Shore scrambling to his feet and then hit Bailey across the back of the legs. Eddie thought he was retaliating against me. I know he never meant it to be that bad." Bailey fractured his skull when his head struck the ice. He required two delicate brain operations to repair the damage, but his hockey career was at an end. The NHL suspended Shore for sixteen games.

Shore helped lead Boston to another Stanley Cup in 1939, but it was his Bruins finale. Traded to the New York Americans for rightwing Ed Wiseman and $5,000 on 24 January 1940, he retired after appearing in only ten games. Shore finished his NHL career with 105 goals, 179 assists, and 1,047 penalty minutes. Modest by contemporary standards, these numbers belie the extent to which Shore's exhilarating dashes and bone-jarring checks came to define the early years of the NHL. Anticipating retirement, Shore purchased the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League (AHL) in 1939, where he also played for parts of three seasons between 1940 and 1942. He continued to operate the Springfield franchise until 1978, except during the 1943–1944 season, when he served as coach and general manager of the Buffalo Bisons, also of the AHL.

As an owner Shore was as domineering, combative, and antagonistic as he had been while a player. His personal life seemed tranquil by comparison. In 1929 Shore married Catherine Macrae, who gave birth to a son before dying in 1945. The following year Shore became a United States citizen. He married again in 1952 and remained with his second wife, Carol Ann Gaba, until her death in 1981. Four years later Shore died of natural causes at the age of eighty-two and is buried in Springfield, Massachusetts.

More than any player of his era, the five-foot, eleven-inch, 190-pound Shore embodied the rugged brand of hockey characteristic of the NHL during the 1920s and 1930s. An unrivaled talent on the blue line, he excelled at rushing the puck up the ice and flattening opponents who hindered his progress. Shore's style of play yielded high totals in both points and penalty minutes. Bruins trainer Hammy Moore said Shore was the only player he "ever saw who had the whole arena standing every time he rushed down the ice. When Shore carried the puck you were always sure something would happen. He would either end up bashing somebody, get into a fight or score a goal."

Shore's exploits on the ice and his fierce devotion to hockey have brought him a certain immortality. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947, Shore also received the Lester Patrick Award in 1970 for outstanding service to hockey in the United States. In 1997 a panel of experts assembled by The Hockey News named Shore the tenth best player in the history of the NHL, according him one final honor twelve years after his death and nearly sixty years after he played his last game.

Biographical information on Shore is included in Stan Fischler, Bad Boys: The Legends of Hockey's Toughest, Meanest, Most-Feared Players (1991). Discussions of Shore's career with the Boston Bruins include Clark Booth, The Boston Bruins: Celebrating 75 Years (1998); Stan Fischler, The Greatest Players and Moments of the Boston Bruins (1999); and Brian McFarlane, The Bruins (2000). An obituary is in the New York Times (18 Mar. 1985).

Mark G. Malvasim