Although most hockey historians credit Jacques Plante as the originator of the practice it was Hugh "Old Eagle Eyes" Lehman, amongst other early goaltenders, who first began wandering from the goal area and rushing the puck up ice. Folklore has it that Lehman scored a goal on one of his patented rushes while playing in the Ontario Professional Hockey League, back in the days prior to the goalie being restricted to his half of centre ice. He was adept at stopping the puck as well, leading the OPHL by posting a goals-against average of 3.00 in the 1909-10 season.
It was in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, however, that Lehman would leave his mark. In his 13 year PCHA career Lehman lead the league in goals-against average five times, recording his best season in 1922-23 with a 2.33 average and five shutouts. He was named as a league All-Star in ten of those 13 seasons. Unfortunately for Lehman, personal success did not always translate into team success.
He played for the Stanley Cup a total of eight times in his career, but winning only once. His first Cup experience came as a member of the Galt Professionals in January 1910. Lehman and his Galt squad were hammered 15-4 in a two-game, total-goal series against Ottawa. He was in net for the Berlin (now Kitchener) Professionals in March 1910 when they lost to the Montreal Wanderers in a one-game final by a score of 7-3. He played on his first and only Cup-winning team as a member of the Vancouver Millionaires when Vancouver defeated Ottawa three games to none in a best-of-five final played at Vancouver in March 1915. Five more Cup appearances in 1918, 1921, 1922, 1923, and 1924 were to find Lehman and his mates on the losing end each time.
When the Western Hockey League disbanded at the end of the 1925-26 season Lehman went to Chicago to play for the Black Hawks of the National Hockey League. Lehman, who was now forty-one years of age, appeared in all 44 games for the 1926-27 Hawks and posted a league-leading mark of 2,797 minutes played. He appeared in four games the following year before finishing the season as coach of the team, posting a disappointing 3-17-1 record.
Hugh Lehman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.