Monday, 6 January 2014

A White White Whale

I always like a good research project, but I find myself occasionally needing some additional help from various sources because the internet just doesn't have the information for which I'm seeking. Today is one of those days as I was hunting for instances of players wearing the sweater shown to the left. This search isn't for me, though, as I was asked if I could provide a little help. Being that I enjoy a good research project, I gathered my resources and set out to find out about this white sweater that the Montreal Canadiens reportedly wore during the 1911-12 season. The problem? It appears there are very few instances of this white sweater on the interwebs.

My good friend Jeff Barak asked that I take some time and dig into the archives at HBIC Headquarters so he could put to rest an emerging mystery that seems to be developing. Jeff, as you may know, is the writer of the Third String Goalie blog - a fantastic jersey-of-the-day blog - and he's discovered that this white sweater may not be entirely accurate.

Here's what Jeff wrote in his email today.
Similar to Russ Boychuk's "Hunting the Last Hamilton Tiger" project in which he is looking for a Hamilton Tigers jersey, I'm on a similar quest.

I'm looking for documentation of a white Montreal Canadiens 1911-12 sweater and hope you can help.

To date, I have found no photographic evidence of this exact sweater with the diagonal sash. I have looked online and through my many books, magazines,various web sites as well as many auctions for sweaters, photos and hockey cards.

So far, the only image I have been able to find is also on the Canadiens history web site, that having been worn by "part-time" player Hector Dallaire, as seen below.

As you can plainly see, this image does not agree with the illustration, as there are no diagonal stripes on the jersey in the photo, and the illustration does not show the stripes around the neck.

Additionally, I have a hard time believing that if such a sweater were actually worn by the Canadiens for a full season, there are no photos of early Canadiens legends Jack Laviolette, Didier Pitre or Georges Vezina wearing such a sweater, since the ones they wore just prior and just following this one have been well documented in photographs, hockey cards and illustrations, all of which you can see in my article.

Have you ever seen it before? Would you have any history books which might have a different photo of it?
The photo in question is seen to the right, and it's very apparent that Mr. Dallaire has no stripe that crosses from right shoulder to left hip. While the hem stripes are indeed correct, it appears we have two differing images. If the Canadiens did wear this sweater in 1911-12, why are there no other images, especially images of the stars on the Canadiens in that era? There has to be an explanation for this sweater, and a reason why some images include the diagonal stripe that clearly is missing off Mr. Dallaire's sweater.

I have skimmed through a number of books that deal in the history of the Canadiens, and I found no images nor any references to a white sweater. I searched a number of the team's biggest stars from that era - Sprague Cleghorn, Joe Hall, Aurel Joliat, and Sylvio Mantha amongst others - and turned up a grand total of zero images. There are references online about it, but no one has provided photographic evidence aside from Jeff's image above.

And that, readers, is where you can make a difference. Perhaps you know more than what we have found. Perhaps you have photos we haven't seen. Perhaps you live in Montreal and can run this by someone at the Canadiens office. In any case, Jeff and I would like your help.

If you can, post any findings here that CONFIRM one of the two photos above. Alternatively, if you have a site that describes the sweaters worn by the 1911-12 Canadiens, post those findings as well. The key in this is that photographic evidence goes a lot further than some write-up on a website. I know Jeff and I are asking a lot, but this is a mystery we'd like to see solved.

You should definitely head over to the Third String Goalie blog and read Jeff's findings as well. He's done a fantastic job in looking at the history of the early sweaters of the Canadiens, and he deserves a click and a read.

Post your findings here or on the Third String Goalie blog, and I'd be happy to credit all findings!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


JeffB said...

Thanks for posting this Teebz. I hope that some information can come to light on this mystery. Some things just don't add up, as far as the widely accepted timelines of when different styles were worn or the accuracy of the illustration on the Canadiens website.

It's something I've been aware of over time, but finally realized I've never seen any photos of the white sash jersey, while even the rarest of other styles from back then are documented in photos and even surviving sweaters.

Perhaps the answer is simply in a photo I've never seen, or perhaps there are some misconceptions as to the time between the red maple leaf style and the barberpole sweaters and the white sweater was never the Canadiens main jersey for 1911-12.

dannyduke said...

Teebz, I already had a discussion about this sweater with Jeff on my fellow SIHR member Iain Fyffe's blog. I illustrated a lot of pre-NHL sweaters for our website for a section called the SIHR Sweater Museum. I have to admit I illustrated the sweater according to Dallaire's pic as it is the only available picture...

I live in Montreal. I will try to find out if any member of the SIHR has contacts in the Canadiens hockey club. I'm gonna try what I can to solve this white sweater mystery once and for all.

You and Jeff can contact me on my email for further communications: