Norman "Dutch" Gainor

By the late 1920s, the NHL had become very concerned about the overly defensive play caused by limited passing rules. So beginning in the 1929-30, the ice was divided into three zones (offensive, neutral and defensive) with forward passing being allowed in all three zones.

The earliest benefactors were the Boston Bruins. They flew to an amazing 38-5-1 record that season. They were led by Hall of Famers Cooney Weiland (league leading 43 goals, 73 points) and Dit Clapper (41 goals, 61 points), two thirds of the "Dynamite Line." The other member of that line was Calgary, Alberta's Dutch Gainor. Gainor, a slick playmaker, scored 18 goals and 31 assists (second in the league to Frank Boucher's 36 helpers) for 49 points in his 3rd NHL season.

Gainor joined the Bruins in 1927 prior to the three zone rule changes, and became a significant contributor the Bruins first Stanley Cup Championship in 1929. Gainor scored 14 times in the regular season and added two more in 5 playoff games.

The Dynamite Line had a short fuse as it turned out. Following their magnificent 1929-30 campaign, NHL teams had learned to combat the three zone rule defensively and the Weiland-Clapper-Gainor line struggled to achieve similar numbers. Weiland only put up 25 goals and Dit Clapper 22, but Gainor struggled the most, scoring only 8 times. More importantly Gainor, who's playmaking style was his forte, only set up 3 other goals.

Gainor was traded to the New York Rangers the following summer in exchange for big, aggressive defenseman Joe Jerwa. Legend has it that the Bruins brain trust, namely Art Ross, didn't like Gainor because of his heavy drinking habits.

Gainor would never again find the success of his incredible 1929-30 season. He struggled with the Rangers before moving on to join the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Maroons, as well as some minor league teams. "Dutch" had a long history of varicose veins which plagued him in his final seasons. By 1935 he was forced to retired because of it, although he would play semi-pro hockey in his native Calgary the next year, as well as putting in a 13 game appearance with the PCHL's Portland Buckaroos.

In all, Norman Gainor played in 246 NHL games, scoring 51 goals and 56 assists for 107 points. He also appeared in 22 playoff games, scoring 2 goals and 1 assist.


hockeyfan 3:26 PM  

Dear Mr. Pelletier,

After much research on my Grandfather, it has been realized that he was a much better hockey player than what you have portrayed. Although your comments have been candid and honest, there was much more to this great hockey player.


Patrick S. Gainor

Joe Pelletier 4:13 PM  

Hello Mr. Gainor.

I appreciate your commentary on my profile of Dutch Gainor. And you know what, you are absolutely right. Gainor is a player I profiled although I never have really known the whole story.

I know I and the 1000s of readers of would be extremely happy to see some of your input on your grandfather. I would like to extend this opportunity for you to share your research and let the world know more about Dutch Gainor.

If you wish, you can either send me material for me to post on the site (full credit given to you of course), or you can post your own material in the comments section.

Feel free to contact me at . I look forward to learning more about Dutch Gainor

Anonymous,  7:31 AM  

You are doing a great job Pelletier and am glad to see Patrick appear. Anybody that played in the NHL in those days deserves more than a pat on the back - These guys revolutionized hockey.
--I am chronicling every Bruin game played and have not quite finished their Stanley Cup winning 5th year yet. It was about game 32 in the 28-29 season that Gainor graduated to the top line with Oliver and Galbraith. Boston had just been shut out 3 or 4 consecutive games and Mickey Mackay was taken off the top line in favor of Gainor. He graduated to the top line before Clapper and Weiland. In the late 20's it was almost like basketball where you had your starting 5 and the rest came in long enough to relieve a tired player. I have much more info and want to get in touch with the both of you on the subject of Gainor - I have contact info on Dit Clapper's grandson as well.

Derek 12:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derek 12:17 PM  

A compliment by Ching Johnson in 1929-30 where he picked Gainor as a wing man on his all-star team help’s Gainor’s case:

"On the wings? Lemme see. Well, I guess "Dutch" Gainor of the Bruins would do. He's awfully tricky and deceptive. Fast, too."
In explaining why he would pick Gainor over Morenz or Joliat:
"He's different. Howie depends entirely on his speed. He doesn't stickhandle at all. You can figure Howie, but you can't figure a fellow like Gainor. You never know whether he's going to the right or left, or over or under you."

The following appeared in the Vancouver Sun on January 20th 1962:

Gainor Gone
THE DUTCHMAN….Eldering hockey fans recall, perhaps fondly, the Dutch Gainor who died this week in the Oliver Mental Hospital, near Edmonton. The Dutchman was maybe the greatest four-year hockey player who ever skated, but he lived fast and was finished quick.
The thing about Gainor was his two-way shift, left and right. He’d shift left and one defenceman would be faked out of his jersey. He’d fake right and the other defenseman would be deked out of his jockey shorts. Then Dutch would swoop in, unmolested, ramming the puck at the goalie or passing it to a flying winger.
Oldtimers still talk about the Gainor shift, it was that memorable. Most players can shift one way, but not one in a hundred can do it both ways.
But Gainor drank and the monumental thirst tarnished his talent. In 1929, after helping the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup, he was roaring home to Calgary in a new Buick. Somewhere in Southern Alberta the car blew a tire and rolled in the ditch.
Gainor got out, unhurt and cussing. He hitched a ride the rest of the way to Calgary and never did return for the car. Life was young and there were plenty more autos where that one came from. Only, in the end, there wasn’t…

Regardless of his personal issues Dutch gave Bruin fans their moneys worth in the 1929 Stanley Cup win and by being an integral part of the Dynamite Trio that paved the way for what still stands today as the best record in NHL history, in terms of winning percentage. The 1929-30 Bruins went 38-5-1. Rest in Peace Dutchman.

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