Between 1940 and 1952, Nels Stewart was the NHL's all-time goal-scoring leader. One of the most lethal offensive players of his day, he earned the nickname "Old Poison" because of his deadly accurate shot. Stewart also had a dark side, and he was more than willing to use his stick or mix it up with members of the opposition whenever the mood struck him.
After excelling in hockey with the Parkdale Canoe Club in Toronto in 1919-20, Stewart embarked on a successful five-year tenure with the Cleveland Indians of the USAHA. He led the league in goals scored in four of those seasons before he and Babe Siebert were signed by the Montreal Maroons in 1925.
The fiery center burst onto the NHL scene in 1925-26, scoring a league-high 34 goals in his first season. He also won the regular-season scoring title with 42 points and was awarded the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player. Stewart's infusion of skill and production helped the Maroons win the Stanley Cup in their sophomore NHL season.
In 1929-30, Stewart was teamed with Siebert and Hooley Smith to form the dreaded S Line. This formidable trio fused talent and physical play at a level rarely seen in NHL history. Stewart responded to this new assignment with a personal-best 39 goals in only 44 games. He was presented with his second Hart Trophy and his reputation as one of the most effective pivots in league history was solidified.
On January 3, 1931, Stewart set an NHL record by scoring two goals in four seconds against the Boston Bruins. This feat was unmatched until December 1995, when Deron Quint of the Winnipeg Jets produced two quick goals. The S Line was broken up when Stewart was traded to Boston prior to the 1932-33 season. In 1934 Stewart was selected to be one of the NHL All-Stars who faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the historic Ace Bailey Benefit Game.
Stewart reached the 20-goal mark twice in Beantown before a trade sent him to the New York Americans in 1936-37. The trip to the Big Apple agreed with Old Poison, as he scored 20 goals in his last 32 games of the season and won the regular-season goal-scoring title for the first time since his rookie year in the NHL.
Stewart retired in 1940 with an NHL record 324 goals to his credit and his total stood as the league standard until Maurice Richard eclipsed it on November 8, 1952. The hard-driven star took his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.