|6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
195 lb (89 kg)
New York Americans
Chicago Black Hawks
Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets
|Born||May 24, 1900,|
Toronto, ON, CAN
|Died||May 26, 1954,|
Ottawa, Ontario, CAN
|Pro Career||1923 – 1937|
|Hall of Fame, 1994|
Lionel Pretoria Conacher, (May 24, 1900 – May 26, 1954), nicknamed "The Big Train", was Canada's top all-around athlete in the 1920s, excelling in Canadian football, ice hockey, lacrosse, baseball, boxing and wrestling.
Early Life[edit | edit source]
Conacher was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1900. He grew up in poverty and was one of ten children. His father was a Toronto teamster. Lionel quit school after the 8th grade to help support his family. He soon realized that sports offered a way out of poverty. He then pursued athletic success.
Hockey career[edit | edit source]
From 1925 to 1937, Conacher played in the National Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Americans, Chicago Blackhawks, and Montreal Maroons. He won the Stanley Cup in 1934 with the Chicago Blackhawks, and 1935 with the Montreal Maroons.
Amateur Hockey[edit | edit source]
Hockey was Conacher's weakest sport as he didn't start skating until he was 16 years old. However, he quickly learned the skill while with the Toronto Century Rovers and the Toronto Aura Lee. He then joined the Toronto Canoe Club juniors in 1919-20. The club captured both the Ontario Hockey Association junior crown and the Memorial Cup that season. Conacher then returned to Toronto Aura Lee to play for their senior team for two years.
During the 1921 off-season he was a member of the Canadian Rugby Union's Toronto Argonauts and won the Grey Cup.
In 1922, Conacher played hockey for the North Toronto and he was in the line-up on February 8, 1923, in the first hockey match ever broadcast on radio. At this stage, Conacher was so highly regarded that the Toronto St. Pats and Montreal Canadiens both invited him to play in the NHL. That year while still active in amateur baseball, hockey and lacrosse, Lionel turned down an offer by Montreal Canadians manager, Leo Dandurand, to turn pro. Dandurand is reported to have offered Conacher $5,000 plus help in setting up his own business.
In late 1922, Conacher rejoined Toronto Aura Lee. That season he and a teammate were accused of point shaving in a hockey game. The Ontario Amateur Athletic Union suspended his entire team. However the Canadian Amateur Athletic Union would later absolve the players of any wrong-doing. In 1924 and 1925, Conacher then captained the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets as they won consecutive United States Amateur Hockey Association titles. The following year the Yellow Jackets became the expansion Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL. He was instrumental in keeping most of the Yellow Jackets together when the team went professional.
Pittsburgh Pirates[edit | edit source]
Conacher went professional when he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. He was soon named the team's captain and scored the first goal in franchise history, against the Boston Bruins on November 26. On December 2, in front of 8,200 fans, Lionel also scored the Pirates first goal in Pittsburgh.
New York Americans[edit | edit source]
In 1927 Conacher was traded to the New York Americans, where he played four seasons and played alongside defencemen Leo Reise and Bill Brydge. In 1929 until 1930, Conacher served as the Americans player-coach.
Montreal Maroons and Chicago Blackhawks[edit | edit source]
Conacher joined the Montreal Maroons for the 1931 season. His time with the team included a career-best 28 points in 1932-33. He then joined the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1933 season, and was a key figure in the club's first-ever Stanley Cup victory that season. He finished second to the Canadiens' Aurel Joliat in the voting for the Hart Trophy and earned a spot on the NHL's First All-Star Team.
The next season, Conacher returned to the Maroons, where he'd spend his last three NHL seasons and won his second Stanley Cup in 1935. He ended his hockey career after the Maroons were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Rangers on April 23, 1937. That final year he was runner-up to Babe Siebert in the 1937 Hart Trophy voting and was placed on the NHL Second All-Star Team.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
|Pittsburgh Pirates captains
|Montreal Maroons captains
|Montreal Maroons Captains|
|Broadbent | Munro | Stewart | Smith | Conacher | Evans|