An imposing blend of raw talent and intimidation, defenseman Eddie Shore was one of the greatest ever to play his position in any era and his end-to-end rushes became every bit as famous as his crushing bodychecks and nasty disposition. When Shore retired as a player, he became a team owner and manager and continued to be a demanding and successful hockey figure.
Shore grew up on a horse ranch at Cupar, a small community in southern Saskatchewan near the North Dakota border, where his years of breaking in ponies, herding stock and hauling grain prepared him for the physical grind of pro hockey. While studying with his brother at the Manitoba Agricultural College in Winnipeg, Eddie took exception to his sibling's charge that he'd never be a good player. A determined Shore played briefly with the college team, but he gained more valuable experience in 1923-24 with the Melville Millionaires, a well-known amateur team.
Shore's abrasive style soon earned him a job in the pro ranks with the Western Canada Hockey League's Regina Caps in 1924-25 and the Edmonton Eskimos the next season. He skated as a forward with Regina but shifted back to his natural defense position with the Eskimos. By 1926, his dynamic rushes had earned him the nickname "the Edmonton Express."
When the Western League folded at the conclusion of 1925-26, Boston Bruins owner Charles Adams stocked his newly formed NHL team with seven WCHL/WHL players and Shore was one of them. Old Blood and Guts was an instant star in Boston, and his fearless style of play and passion for the game helped ensure the success of big-league hockey in Beantown. During his first NHL season, Shore established a new record with 130 penalty minutes while also scoring 12 goals. His goal total exceeded that of all but three Boston forwards and it became apparent that he was capable of fully controlling a game when he was on the ice.
During the 1928-29 season, Shore led the Bruins to first place in the American Division. They went through the playoffs without losing a game and won the first Stanley Cup in team history. Shore was at his hard-hitting and playmaking best as Boston eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals prior to a two-game sweep of the New York Rangers.
Following the 1930-31 season, Shore finished second in the voting for the Hart Trophy and was placed on the NHL First All-Star Team. He won the Hart Trophy in 1933, 1935, 1936 and 1938, becoming the only defenseman ever to be so honoured four times. Over the next several years, Shore was selected to the NHL First All-Star Team six more times and the Second Team once. He originally formed an outstanding defensive tandem with Lionel Hitchman but eventually teamed with the likes of Dit Clapper and Flash Hollett. Shore recorded 105 goals and 284 points in 14 seasons.
In December 1933 Shore was involved in an unfortunate on-ice collision that ended the career of Toronto forward Ace Bailey. As a result of the tragedy, the first large-scale benefit game in NHL history was held at Maple Leaf Gardens, on February 14, 1934. One of the most unforgettable scenes in hockey history occurred prior to the opening faceoff when Shore and Bailey shook hands.
In 1939, 10 years after leading the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup, Shore contributed to their second. Shore's leadership and endurance were pivotal factors behind Boston's success in a hard-fought, seven-game struggle against the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Early in the 1939-40 season, Shore sensed that his NHL days were numbered. He seized the opportunity to purchase the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, where he became player-owner. A few weeks into the season, the Bruins were floundering and Boston manager Art Ross approached Shore about a possible comeback. A short-term arrangement was made whereby Shore would play strictly in home games.
Before the season was out, Ross traded the burly rearguard to the New York Americans for Eddie Wiseman and cash. Shore's strong play contributed to the Americans' reaching the post-season, where they lost a tough quarterfinals to the Detroit Red Wings. At one point in March, Shore appeared in six playoff encounters in as many nights - three with New York and three with Springfield.
Shore retired from the NHL at the conclusion of that topsy-turvy year to devote his full attention to his minor-league investment. When the U.S. Army took over the Springfield Coliseum during World War II, Shore moved to Buffalo and coached the Bisons to two AHL Calder Cup championships. The Indians franchise was reactivated in 1946-47 and Shore remained part of the team until he sold it in 1976. As an AHL owner and coach, Shore gained a reputation as a demanding yet innovative teacher of the game. Many players were upset by his extreme methods, but others would claim they learned valuable hockey lessons they wouldn't have received anywhere else.
One of the many honours conferred upon Shore came his way when the Bruins retired his sweater in front of a cheering Boston Garden crowd. The AHL created the Eddie Shore Plaque, which is presented annually to the league's outstanding defenseman. Shore was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947.