Sunday

Flash Hollett

William Hollett was a high scoring defenseman overshadowed by other great blue liners of his time.

Names like Eddie Shore (who was often Hollett's defensive partner), Dit Clapper and Art Coulter dominated the era. However it was Hollett who was often topped the offensive leader board from the point. In fact, in 1944-45 while with the Detroit Red Wings, Hollett became the first defenseman to score 20 goals in one season.

Hollett, dubbed Flash because of his great speed on skates, started his NHL career when he was loaned to the Ottawa Senators in 1933-34 by the Maple Leafs before being teamed with Hap Day in Toronto in 1934-35. In 1936 he was sold to the Boston Bruins for a significant sum of cash - rumored to be $16,000. Despite his ability and promise, Hollett wore out his welcome with Conn Smythe. His abrasiveness would come into play throughout his career.

It was in Boston where Hollett established himself as a solid NHLer. Teamed with Shore, Hollett would enjoy 7 seasons with the Bruins, tying NHL records for defensemen when he scored 19 goals in both the 1941-42 and 1942-43 season. Harry Cameron originally set the record in 1921. In 1943 Hollett did break Tom "Cowboy" Anderson's record for most points by a defenseman with 44.

But Hollett's greatest moment as a Bruin came in 1939, and at the expense of his old team. It was Hollett who scored a crushing goal in the finals against Toronto to give the Bruins the Stanley Cup! Hollett and the Bruins would win another title in 1941.

Yet all was not well in Boston. Hollett clashed with boss Art Ross. It was once said that Art Ross toyed with the notion of burying him in the minor leagues. Despite the feud, Ross knew he needed Hollett. He was an extraodinary offensive presence from the rear and he had great versatility. Ross would move Hollett up on a forward line whenever a forward got hurt. Hollett would also take turns as a forward while on the penalty kill.

Hollett was on pace for another near-20 goal season in January 1944 when the Bruins traded away the now 32 year old veteran to Detroit for Pat Egan, a young defensive prospect who would go on to enjoy a lengthy NHL career.

In Hollett's first full season with Detroit he would break Cameron's goal record by defensemen. He scored 20 goals and 21 assists in the 1944-45 season. What makes this even more unthinkable is that he did this in 50 game schedule. Even during the high scoring 1980's when Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque and Doug Wilson were challenging 30+ goals routinely, 20 goals by a defenseman was still considered to be quite the feat. The record of 20 goals would stand for 24 years until a young man named Bobby Orr came along.

Pairded with Earl Seibert, Hollett's performance in the 1945 playoffs were quite legendary in Detroit. Down three games to one against Toronto in the finals, Hollett spurred an unlikely Detroit comeback, winning three straight games before falling just short in game seven.

Hollett's production faltered significantly in 1945-46 as he battled groin and knee injuries and had a falling out with Wings boss Jack Adams. The argument was over Flash's contract. Hollett wanted a $500 a year raise and even retired in the summer of 1946 over the dispute. When he did retire Adams threatened Hollett that he would make sure that Flash would never be placed in Hockey's Hall of Fame. Suspiciously, even years after Jack Adam's passing, Hollett, one of the games top blue liners of that era is still not in the Hall.

To end the dispute Hollett was traded to the New York Rangers, but the aging veteran opted to retire and attend to his young family rather than move to Manhattan. He returned to the Toronto area, where he continued to play senior hockey. In 1950 he led the Toronto Marlboros to the Allan Cup championship.

When Hollett retired he was the highest scoring defenseman in the history of the National Hockey League. He scored 132 goals and 181 assists for 313 points in 565 NHL games

Flash Hollett died in 1999.

13 comments:

Jamie 3:54 AM  

Yes, Flash should definitely be in the Hockey Hall of Fame!

michelle 11:24 AM  

Flash Hollett was an incredibly talented defenceman, who should definetly be recognized by the Hall of Fame. It is an absolute tragedy that todays younger players don't even know who he is or was...he should be a household name like Bobby Orr is.
Why is he not in the Hall of Fame now?
The feud is over...both parties are now deceased!
Let's give recognition where is is long overdue!
Michelle

Derek 8:52 AM  

People like Flash can still be nominated. I suggest facebook groups or whatever where a group of fans can nominate Flash and/or other old-time greats into the HHOF.

Axxellein 7:09 AM  

Yet ANOTHER Boston Bruins Great with nary a mention in the Boston Bruins History DVD!! The list is distressingly long!!

dennis 6:00 PM  

Visited flash at his retirement home.fascinating stories about old time hockey and the greats that he played with and against. One of his greatest moments was the hole in one he got at missasauga golf club. He had that trophy in his room. He did believe that he got blacklisted from entering the hall what a shame. He mentioned watching detroits rookies scrimaging with jack addams. Addams says who do you like, he polnted to gordie howe. Need i say more.

Derek 9:33 PM  

I have followed every game that Hollett played with the Bruins up until the depleted rosters began in 1942-43 and I see why his stats may be somewhat deceiving. He did not appear to be a good enough forward to be on the top 2 lines and was not a good enough defenseman to be on the top 2 pairings with Boston -- but he was a utility player -- he played as much and scored as much as a forward as he did a defenseman so the "points as a defenseman stat" is not a gauge if half of the points were accumulated when he was playing forward. His greatest asset was that he was the fastest player on the team. It appears that Ross threw him out on most power plays as well. He was normally a fringe NHL/AHL player in Boston believe it or not -- Why? I do not know. Why was Mariusz Czerkawski struggling to stay in the NHL when he was getting 20+ and 30+ seasons?
I will submit more on Flash in the tomorrow or soon after.

Derek 9:18 PM  

Flash Hollett may be the most over-rated under-rated player in the history of the NHL. That probably makes about as much sense at it does to gauge Flash Hollett as a player through research. His stats are always used to mislead fans that he was a super offensive defenseman. He was quite adept at getting points while playing defense but many of these points were accumulated while he played as a forward. The 44 goals and 119 points he accumulated from 1943 to 1945 was when the NHL was more akin to an AHL league. Hollett’s stats reflect the league status. In 1944-45 he scored 20 goals, in 1945-46 he scored 4, and in 1946-47 he was in the minors. Maurice Richard was a great goal scorer and 50 goals in 50 games was great but this too was in 1944-45. Richard would not score 50 goals in a season again despite the 60 and 70 game seasons he later played. Herb Cain scored 32 goals in 1944-45 for Boston and was in the minors for the 1946-47 season. So why rank him 14th among Bruins prior to WWll? Hollett was a utility man. He was never planted on the top three lines or on the top two defensive pairings. If a player was injured he would replace them whether it was a forward or a defense. This may have stunted his progress somewhat. Hollett played very well in the 1939 and 1941 playoffs and helped the Bruins win two Stanley Cups and he stuck around long enough to appear in nearly 300 games for the Bruins before the war depleted the rosters. Hollett was a great hockey player but stat watchers beware when you see 313 points in 562 games for a defenseman. He has an interesting story and his
stick-to-itiveness also brings him high marks in my books.

Hollett was actually signed by Conn Smythe, Leaf manager, for his professional lacrosse team. Smythe had visions that he might be made into a fine hockey player. Smythe had him sent to the Syracuse Stars where he practiced for half a season without appearing in any games. He could not break into Toronto’s top four defense so he was loaned to Ottawa. In 1934-35 with Toronto he played fine hockey for a time but finally became involved in an argument with some Toronto fans who voiced complaint with his showing in one particular game. Resenting the taunts of fans, Hollett made gestures to the fans which were seen in all parts of the rink and the entire fan body turned against him.
As a result he had heard jeers more often than cheers in Toronto since that time and his work in 1935-36 was below normal. Hollett was almost sent to Montreal in return for cash and Toe Blake, a young wing who was listed for service in Syracuse, but Boston stepped in with a cash offer which Smythe finally accepted. Boston paid $16,500. So Toe Blake was almost a Leaf and Hollet was nearly a Hab. Hollett and Smythe were bitter enemies and Smythe taunted Ross with this sale and dubbed Hollett the “$15,000 lemon” and there was a lot of fun throughout the league about the sale.

Derek 9:22 PM  

After one his demotions by the Leafs:
To the NHL and its fans, Hollett is “Flash”, due to his speed. But to Syracuse and the International League he’ll always be “Busher Bill,” the non-blushing violet.
Hollett doesn’t like the idea of coming back to the minors. In other words, he’s only human and he’s still ready to admit his greatness.
But Toronto doesn’t want him right now. Les Canadiens didn’t want him on loan for the season. Neither did the New York Americans or the Boston Bruins. This means that the three trailers of big league hockey passed him up.
So Hollett hasn’t any choice. To prove he is a great hockey player he has to report to Syracuse and upon reporting he’ll have to be outstanding. In that way, and that way alone, can he go back up the ladder.
Mr. Smythe said he would supply pep, spice and color to Syracuse’s hockey season. He’s doing it.

Again Hollett was a lacrosse player turned hockey player and was a work in progress. Ross may have wanted to keep him long enough to throw everything back into Smythe’s face. Eddie Shore did everything, and was arguably the smartest hockey man in the history of the game. In the 1937-38 season, Hollett now 25 years of age, owner Adams made the following statement:
“Shore has taken Flash Hollett under his wing. He knows it’s his job to bring Flash along because they are going to play together all season, and it’s the realization of Hollett’s ambition to play alongside the man he hero-worshipped as a boy.”

In 1938-39 Boston had a magnificent defense. Eddie Shore and Dit Clapper was the first dream team pairing with Jack Crawford and Jack Portland on the second pairing. In this era four and sometimes five defensemen dressed. The fifth defenseman, the third Jack, was Jack Shewchuk.
Boston also had two magnificent lines in the Krauts and the Cowley-Hill-Conacher line. So Hollett was nearly out of a job but Ross kept him around as a utility man. He impressed the press from his first game at forward:
“Flash Hollett made his debut as a forward and surprised the 12,000 fans with his speed and passing. Flash set up the goal that broke the tie.”
Despite what seemed like great feats performed by Hollett, Ross would continue to use him as a utility man and kept his main core of forward lines and defense pairings together.


Accolades in 1939 Playoff run:

1939 Stanley Cup series vs Rangers:
Frankie Brimsek’s ice water temperament in the Boston cage and the flawless hockey technique of Bill Hollett, regarded by this department as the most improved hockey player in the National league.

Flash Hollett Has Last Laugh
The “fifteen thousand dollar hockey lemon,” tossed the winning shot that gave the Boston Bruins the Stanley cup.
The puck shooter was “Flash” Hollett. He was sold to Boston by Toronto several seasons back for $15,000 dollars. It remained for him to write the final chapter of the downfall of the Maple Leafs by the Bruins.

Derek 9:24 PM  

1939-40
Clapper-Portland
Crawford-Shewchuk

Schmidt-Dumart-Bauer
Cowley-Conacher-Hill
Art Jackson-Pettinger-Cain

And, rearing to take anyone's and everyone's job except Brimsek's, will be Bill(Flash) Hollett, one of the greatest utility players in the ice-game's history. As insurance, Ross has checked two reserve lines with his International-American farm team, the Hershey Bears.

Hollett Valuable
Good utility men are worth their weight in gold to an NHL club, and Bill “Flash” Hollett of Boston Bruins is just about the best.
There isn’t a spot on the team that Hollett can’t play, and that includes the goal. To prove it Hollett donned the pads at Hershey, Pa., when goalie Frank Brimsek was given a rest because of an elbow injury.
Hollett hasn’t played in the nets during the NHL season but he has played in every other position.

“Flash” certainly isn’t another Shore, but he’s just about the greatest one-man gang in hockey today. He’s played every position on the Bruin team except goal and he even stepped into the nets down in Hershey the other day and proved he could do that, if need be.

Lately the Bruins' front office has become dissatisfied with the
play of its third forward line and it is likely that Mel Hill, Bill Hollett or Herb Cain, now incapacitated with a fractured nose, will be sent down to Hershey.

Bill “Flash” Hollett operates in the dual capacity of forward and defenseman for the Bruins when and where he is needed. He is not one of Boston’s big guns of the moment, like Bill Cowley, Roy Conacher or the Krauts, but Hollett, a fast skater with a hard shot, will bear watching by Canadiens when the Bruins visit the Forum on Saturday night.

Canadiens may sound out the Bruins on the possibility of a deal while they are here. Would it be Flash Hollett who some people think is the best all-around utility man since Jack Darragh?

Mel Hill, Hollett, sent to Hershey
Manager Art Ross of the Boston Bruins announced that Mel Hill and Flash Hollett would leave today for the AHL farm club at Hershey. Neither of the two players dressed for last night’s 1-1 game with the Detroit Red Wings and it became apparent the stamp of approval had been placed on Gordon Bruce and Pat McReavy, recently brought from Hershey.

Hollett is Rebellious
So Promised Early Recall or Trade
Bill (Flash) Hollett, popular Boston Bruins’ hockey player, boarded a midnight train for the Bruins’ Hershey farm last night after a hectic day in which he was reported to have threatened to quit hockey rather than go to a minor league club.
Hollett and Mel Hill, hero of the Stanley Cup series two seasons ago, were ordered to Hershey by Art Ross, in exchange for Gordon Bruce and Pat McReavy.
Hollett was said to have refused to make the shift and declared he would quit the game when Ross threatened a fine and suspension. After some argument he agreed to make the change only on condition he be recalled in two weeks or sold to another major league club.
Both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks are reported to have made an offer for him.

1941-42:
After his demotion in 1940-41 he had a good post season and came out with a good year in 1941-42.

Des thought Hollett was the fastest Bruin skater:
“The trouble with Flash is he’s so used to faking and deeking when he carries the puck, he can’t travel in a straight line,”

A speed test was had in Toronto where Syl Apps won and Lynn Patrick was 2nd. Flash Hollett and Syd Abel were tied at 3rd. It was a memorial program for Robert (Moose) Ecclestone, popular Toronto sportsman killed in an automobile accident. Apps skated at 14 4/5th seconds and Hollett at 15. The races were from flying starts for the circuit of the playing surface (Maple Leaf Gardens) carrying a puck and going behind each goal.

Hollett was playing on the 3rd line a lot in 1940-41, centering a line with Gordie Bruce and Dutch Hiller.

Karen Kerr,  9:19 PM  

There is no reason FLASH HOLLETT should not be in the hockey hall of fame.
His stats say it all.

Jamie Aiton 11:34 AM  

I am Flash Hollett's granddaughter.
How can we get him into the HHOF?

jacob hollett 1:06 PM  

flash hollett is my grandfathers cousin but died the year i was born. :.(so hes my 3rd cousin
directly related.

Julia Courtney 8:10 PM  

I am flash hollett's great niece. I enjoyed reading all the information about him. I read that he finally made it in to the HHOF in Canada but not in the USA. Is that true? Julia Hollett Courtney

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