A multidimensional star, Harry "Punch" Broadbent was as talented as he was tough. He was an artist with the puck, at times scoring at will, but he also gained a notorious reputation for using his elbows to make a point. He could dance around or skate over an opponent as the situation demanded. Many considered Broadbent to be one of the first true power forwards of the game. And fame would likely have been far greater had he not lost three years in the prime of his career to military service during the First World War.
A star in the Ottawa City League with the Cliffsides and the New Edinburghs, Broadbent became a local hero at an early age. In 1912, he joined the Ottawa Senators on a part-time basis when they played in the National Hockey Association.
Broadbent scored an incredible 24 goals in only 20 matches in 1914-15. That year, he was part of an Ottawa expedition that traveled to Vancouver for an unsuccessful Stanley Cup challenge against the Millionaires. Other famous names found on the Ottawa roster at this time included Clint Benedict, Jack Darragh, Art Ross and Hamby Shore.
In 1915, Broadbent left hockey to serve Canada in the First World War. He was awarded the Military Medal for his heroic conduct overseas. When he returned to the Senators in 1918-19, they were playing in the newly formed National Hockey League. Broadbent scored 19 goals in 21 games during the 1919-20 season but enjoyed his greatest success two years later. In 1921-22, he scored 32 goals in the 24-game schedule. Included in this run of good fortune was an NHL record of 16 consecutive games with at least one goal, eclipsing Joe Malone's previous record of 14. The streak began during a 10-0 rout of the Montreal Canadiens on Christmas Eve and lasted through to a 6-6 tie with the same team seven weeks later on February 15. In addition to goal-scoring skills and toughness, Broadbent possessed superior backchecking. This last quality helped the Senators play smothering defensive hockey when protecting a lead.
His offensive wizardry and robust style of play contributed significantly to the Senators' three Stanley Cup wins in 1920, 1921 and 1923. He was the right winger on one of hockey's top forward lines with Frank Nighbor and Cy Denneny. In the 1923 series versus the Edmonton Eskimos, Ottawa needed to find a way to stop the explosive Duke Keats. Everyone figured this responsibility would rest with defensive stalwart Frank Nighbor. Early in the contest, Keats skated close to Broadbent and took one of the latter's famous elbows in the midsection. The star of the Western side failed to make much of an impression the rest of that evening.
Prior to the 1924-25 season, Broadbent and future Hall of Fame goalie Clint Benedict were traded to the expansion Montreal Maroons in a blockbuster deal. Those who felt that Broadbent was past his prime were silenced by his five-goal performance on January 7, 1925 during a 6-2 win over the Hamilton Tigers. In reality, Broadbent and Benedict had been sent to the new club to make the league appear as balanced as possible.
The Maroons won the Stanley Cup in 1925-26 with Broadbent at his roughest. He scored two goals in eight post-season matches, but also accumulated 36 minutes in penalties. "Old Elbows" was a force throughout the series that serves as a microcosm of his impact throughout his career.
Broadbent returned to his roots with the Senators in 1927-28. The reunion lasted only one year as he was sold to the New York Americans in the summer. The 1928-29 season with New York proved to be his last in the NHL. He collected 50 goals in 57 games with the NHA, following that with 121 goals in 303 NHL games.
Broadbent was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.