At only 5'6' and 135 pounds, diminutive defenseman Bobby Benson played only one season in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, in 1924-25, recording one assist in eight games. But for Benson the NHL experience wasn't the highlight of his successful hockey career. He was in fact a part of Canada's hockey history before he ever turned pro.
Born in Winnipeg in 1894, Benson played four seasons with the Winnipeg Falcons of the Manitoba Hockey League, from 1913 to 1917. He spent the next two years in the military, during which time he played, along with the entire Falcons squad, for the Winnipeg 223rd Scandinavian Battalion team.
In 1920 Benson competed in a hockey tournament that would prove to be the true highlight of his career. When he was a member of the 1920 Canadian Olympic team that traveled to Antwerp, Belgium, for the first and only time that ice hockey was played in the Summer Olympics.
In those days, Canada didn't select a national team composed of the top talent from around the country; instead, the nation's top amateur club earned the right to wear the national colors. Benson's Winnipeg Falcons, led by coach Frank Rankin and general manager and secretary William Hewitt, had a strong nucleus made up mostly of players of Icelandic descent, including team captain and center Frank Fredrickson, forward Chris Fridfinnson and winger Slim Halderson. They defeated the University of Toronto seniors in a two game Allan Cup final series in March 1920 and were invited to represent Canada at the Olympics, where they won gold.
After the Games, Benson had a whirlwind career as a pro. He signed as a free agent with the Saskatoon Crescents of the Western Canada Hockey League, where he played two seasons before being traded to the Calgary Tigers of the same league. After three more seasons he was traded again, this time to the Montreal Maroons, on January 6, 1925. But that same day he was traded to the Bruins for Alf Skinner. After his brief stint with Boston he returned to Saskatoon but was traded to Edmonton of the Western Hockey League a few months later. Then came seasons with the Moose Jaw Maroons, Minneapolis Miners, Seattle Eskimos and Hollywood Stars, all in various professional and semipro leagues in the western part of Canada and the U.S. This nomadic pro career may obscure the fact that Bobby Benson was a key defensive skater in Canada's early Olympic hockey history.