Much more than a name on a trophy

Much more than a name on a trophy

Posted on September 11 by Eric Zweig
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When Art Ross: The Hockey Legend Who Built the Bruins was published in early September, it was almost exactly ten years to the day since I first began working on it. It hasn’t literally been ten years of continuous work … but it’s certainly been ten years of living with it – and two or three years of work, at least. More, by far, than I have spent on any other project.

 "...if Art Ross had done all the things he did in baseball instead of hockey, there would already be several books about him."

As I say in the acknowledgements at the end of the book, I can no longer remember if there was one thing in particular that made up my mind I wanted to do this. I do remember thinking that if Art Ross had done all the things he did in baseball instead of hockey, there would already be several books about him. I love the early history of hockey, and Ross was as important a part of that as anyone. He was an all-round athlete who excelled at nearly every sport he tried. His pre-NHL playing career – during the dawn of professional, pay-for-play hockey – from 1905 to 1918 – fascinated me. Even if he Ross had never been involved with the Boston Bruins and the NHL (which he was from 1924 to 1954), I would have wanted to write about him.

“Trying to write about Art Ross in a single chapter is virtually impossible,” said Boston writer Henry McKenna in a story for a Bruins’ program in 1961. “A book perhaps, but hardly a single article. It’s just too much because Ross was a many-sided personality, his career spanned too many active years and the stories involving him are endless.”

"...Art Ross was so much more than a name on a trophy."

So, why had nobody written this book before? I think that for many years Americans viewed him as a Canadian selling them on a foreign game, and that Canadians – because he became so identified with Boston – began to view him as an American. (I also think his long-standing feud with Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe would have made it unwise for Canadian sportswriters of the so-called ‘Original Six’ era to contemplate writing about Ross.)

Art Ross was among the best players in the game for more than ten years in a playing career that earned him his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Yet those who know his name today are most likely to know him for the 30 years he spent in management with the Boston Bruins. Even more will know him only because of the award he donated, which has been handed out each season since 1948 to the NHL’s leading scorer. But Art Ross was so much more than a name on a trophy.

In the words of Harry Sinden – a man who held many of the same jobs in with the Bruins as Art Ross did – “this book really has a place in Canadian history, in hockey history and in NHL history.” I hope you’ll like it.

Eric Zweig

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
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Eric Zweig

Eric Zweig is a managing editor with Dan Diamond & Associates, producers of the annual NHL Official Guide & Record Book since 1984. Eric’s books include Twenty Greatest Hockey Goals and Art Ross: The Hockey Legend Who Built the Bruins. He lives in Owen Sound, Ontario.