Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Gerard, Eddie

Gerard, Eddie

Rarely in hockey history has a defenseman exhibited as high a level of play and gentlemanly conduct as Eddie Gerard. While playing a position that constantly required physical confrontation, he performed with superior efficiency but in sportsmanlike fashion. Gerard was a fine skater with superior puckhandling capabilities who was a fair match for any adversary at either end of the ice, while his leadership skills made him the ideal captain for the Stanley Cup-winning Ottawa Senators and a fine coach with the Cup champion Montreal Maroons in 1926.

Gerard first signed with hockey's Ottawa Senators in 1913-14, a transaction that reaped many benefits for the club. He began as a forward, playing on a line with Jack Darragh and Skene Ronan, and didn't switch to defense for another three years. Following this positional shift, Gerard established himself as a tower of strength on his squad's defense while serving as the team's inspirational heart. He formed an outstanding defensive partnership with George Boucher and was the natural choice for team captain.

Gerard captained the version of the Senators that was dubbed the "Super Six" as a tribute to their winning three Stanley Cups in four years between 1920 and 1923. During the 1920 Stanley Cup series against the Seattle Metropolitans, Gerard formed an impenetrable defensive wall with Sprague Cleghorn in his own zone and scored on a dramatic end-to-end rush in the deciding game. The Senators retained the Cup the following year in an emotionally charged series versus the PCHA champion Vancouver Millionaires. In one of the most keenly watched Stanley Cup encounters of the 1920s, Ottawa triumphed in the fifth and deciding game with a 2-1 score.

The Senators didn't fare as well during the 1921-22 schedule, finishing first overall but then falling to Toronto for the NHL championship. Oddly enough, Gerard also found himself competing for the Stanley Cup on behalf of the Toronto St. Patricks. The St. Pats were riddled with injuries during their Cup encounter with the Vancouver Millionaires, so Vancouver manager Lester Patrick agreed to allow the Toronto club to call on any defense player in eastern Canada for the remainder of the series. Gerard was quickly summoned and played a crucial part in the St. Pats' victory in the fourth game of the match-up. In fact, he was so impressive that Patrick balked at allowing Gerard to participate in the fifth and deciding contest. It mattered little, as Toronto won the final match 5-1, with much of the credit for the shift in momentum resting with Gerard's involvement in the previous game.

The 1922-23 season found Gerard on his fourth straight Stanley Cup-winning side. The Ottawa club defeated Vancouver three games to one, then vanquished Edmonton in two straight matches to claim hockey's ultimate prize. The final match against Edmonton on March 31, 1923, proved to be Gerard's swan song in pro hockey.

On retiring as a player, Gerard turned his attention to coaching. He became bench boss with the Montreal Maroons at the start of the 1925-26 schedule and promptly led that franchise to its first Stanley Cup championship. In 1930 he moved on to manage the New York Americans before returning to the Maroons two years later. Gerard ventured on to St. Louis to handle the Eagles in 1934-35 but was forced to step down due to his failing health. His career was one filled with a great deal of success both on and off the ice. A member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, Gerard was among the first 12 inductees when the Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1945.

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