Friday, 8 March 2013

Debunking The Internet

When your franchise's history is approaching an entire century, there's a good chance that a vast number of people have led your franchise to different heights in different eras. Some teams obviously reach the pinnacle of success while others may have fallen short of expectations, but the key is that records are kept so that historians can look down the list and see how the peaks and valleys of success differed. In the case of the Boston Bruins, the vast majority of online records seem to be missing a few key people in terms of those men who have worn the captaincy designation.

Before and during World War II, there were no designations worn on a team's sweater for the men who were elected as the on-ice leaders. Captains were most likely named through one of scoring prowess, toughness, or length of years served with a team, but no one truly wore that distinction on the ice for others to see. As it stands, many warriors who were probably great leaders will go unnamed in the annals of NHL history.

After World War II, it appeared that Boston Bruins were one of the first teams to designate a captain and an alternate captain through letters on their sweaters, doing so in 1946-47. Some have stated that the Maple Leafs were the first team to do so as they wore the captain's and alternate captain's in '46-47, but there appears to be no official record kept that I can find. In either case, the Boston Bruins have some significant problems with their historical records when it comes to who was the on-ice representative for the team.

I have looked over a vast number of sites on the internet, so I want to post a chart that basically sums up what all of these sites seem to agree upon with regards to who was the Boston Bruins captain when the team began wearing the captaincy on their sweaters.

As you can see, it appears that Dit Clapper and Jack Crawford held the captaincy from 1939 to 1950. This is the era I am going to focus on because of a specific image posted today on Uni Watch. The image, seen here, featured Milt Schmidt of the famous "Kraut Line" wearing the captaincy during this time. Because Milt Schmidt just celebrated his 96th birthday and was honored by the Bruins before last night's game, there was some discussion on the site about the sweater that Mr. Schmidt wore to drop the puck. Some excellent sleuthing by TMcLaughlin brought forth the image of Schmidt wearing the captain's designation as well as a cover from a Bruins media guide found on eBay.

The reason that these pictures of Schmidt caused such a ruckus was that the Bruins wore that style of sweater from 1940 until 1948. That, of course, would mean that Clapper and Crawford should have been the only two captains to wear the captaincy during that era, but it turns out that the information on the chart is egregiously wrong as Schmidt was actually one of two men to wear the captaincy in these sweaters who wasn't named Clapper or Crawford! Because the Bruins began wearing the sweaters with the "C" and "A" on them in 1946, we're really only concerned with the 1946-47 and 1947-48 seasons. Let's look a little closer at those two years.

If we're to believe the chart shown above, Jack Crawford should be pictured as the captain for the 1946-47 season. A quick internet search turned up the team photo for the 1946-47 Bruins, and it appears that there is some conflicting photo evidence here. Jack Crawford wore #6 for the Bruins and he was clearly in the photo, but the guy wearing the "C" is #17. Who the heck is that? Well, after a little digging, your Bruins captain for 1946-47 was Bobby Bauer and the alternate captains were Jack Crawford and Murray Henderson! For those that may dispute this information, Bauer played 58 games and finished second in scoring for the Bruins on the season with 30 goals and 24 helpers. He was on the ice a lot, but there aren't many images of Bauer on the internet, let alone images of him in his captain's sweater. I'll keep digging, but if you know of any images, send them this way!

After discovering Bobby Bauer's new designation, that eliminated the possibility that Schmidt was the captain in 1946-47. The Bruins only wore this style of sweater for one more season, and it appears that Mr. Schmidt was the captain for the 1947-48 season as per this team photo! I took the liberty of blowing up the image a little, and you can clearly see Murray Henderson wearing #8 and the "A", Milt Schmidt wearing #15 and the "C", and Jack Crawford wearing #6 and an "A". The only change was that Bobby Bauer was relegated to the back row on the very left without a letter on his sweater! Because of this, the media guide cover and these two program covers would be entirely accurate to the 1947-48 season based on the team's captaincies!

If you're an experienced internet user, you're already aware that some things posted on the internet are not true. I'm surprised and shocked that the Boston Bruins have not published anything on their site that corrects these historical inaccuracies found about their team on many websites. I don't expect the Bruins to wander out into the vast internet landscape and correct individual sites, but the least they could do is post an accurate list on their own site.

All I know is that I'm happy to have corrected it here on HBIC.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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