Saturday

George Owen

George Owen started his hockey career as an amateur legend in Massachusetts. Although he was born in Hamilton, Ontario, he grew up in the Massachusetts area. He attended the Newton-Mass high school before moving on to star with Harvard University, where he also was a star football player.

Owen was a highly sought after NHL prospect back in the 1920s. His rights were held by Toronto but Owen didn't want to leave his home in Massachusetts. He remained in Boston playing senior hockey.

On January 10, 1929 Owen came closer to joining the world's best hockey players in a deal that sent Eric Pettinger to Toronto for George's NHL rights. George, a standout defensman who wore #4 years before Bobby Orr was even born, helped the Bruins capture the Stanley Cup in his first year.

Although that would be their only Cup championship in Owen's 5 year stay with the Bruins, the Bruins were a dominant team with George on the blue line. They finished first overall in the regular season in 4 of his 5 years there. The last 3 seasons George was named as the 2nd captain in Bruins history, replacing Lionel Hitchman.

In addition to being one of the earliest college graduates to play in the NHL, Owen may have been the first player to play in the league with a helmet. There is no real proof as to who was the first player to wear a lid, but there is some documentation suggesting Owen played his rookie season with the Bruins while wearing his Harvard football helmet. In those days football helmets were tight fitting leather caps and nothing like today's helmets.

George retired as a player after the 32-33 season, to become head coach at the Michigan Institute of Technology.

8 comments:

Anonymous,  8:31 AM  

coached MASSACHUSETTS Institute of Technology...

Paul 9:19 AM  

George was an outstanding coach of football, hockey and baseball at Milton Academy in the 50's and 60's

Anonymous,  11:23 AM  

Where did you get this information?

Derek 7:01 AM  

Harvard Star George Owen was a nine-letter man for Harvard. Three each in football, baseball and hockey. He was as adept as a football and baseball player as he was a hockey player. He was the captain of the Harvard hockey team. In 1921 and 1922 he was awarded the Dane P.J. Wingate Cup for showing the best all-round ability on the baseball diamond. After one hockey game when his Crimson Ramblers beat an amateur team from Winnipeg the reports stated: “Standing high above other members of the team usefulness was George Owen. On the defense he calculated his blocking and checking tactics in better fashion than has been seen in a Crimson game this season, and in stick-work, speed, and accomplishments he was better even than the forwards.”
In 1922 he set a Harvard record for possessing 9 varsity H’s for prowess in football, baseball and hockey.
Born in Canada
Throughout his playing career he was known as George Owen Jr. from Newton, Massachusetts and Americans were claiming him as their own. Owen was actually born in Hamilton, Ontario. He did move to the USA at a young age and was a product of American hockey development. He attended Newton High School.
It was generally known that Owen was a gentlemanly person and a clean and fair hockey player. The following newspaper account from the Lewiston Evening Journal tells of him visiting Maine‘s Poland Spring Christmas Party in 1922. “Everyone who did not know the now famous Harvard athlete, was eager to meet him. It was not hard to do so, for “George” as everyone called him is as approachable as a Yale goal. A natural, comfortable young man with no indications that he has had his head turned by the usual publicity that comes from a spectacular football feat.
He taught a Sunday School class composed of 25 boys. Neighbor and Milton Academy colleague Barclay Feather '41 said, "one thing that characterzed George was his humbleness about his own athletic abilities. He claimed he was merely doing his best with the talents God had given him."
His Family
His father, George Owen Sr., was a yacht designer in Hamilton, Ontario before becoming a Naval Architect in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a great promoter of hockey in the Boston area and was chairman of the University Club Hockey Committee in Boston, which George Jr. played on.
Prefers Hockey
Hockey in the United States gained publicity through George Owen. Of course in the United States baseball and football, in 1922, were bigger than hockey in a more lopsided manner than today and George openly discussed his love for hockey over football and baseball. He said he got no pleasure out of football, that he only played the game as a duty to his school. Hockey furnishes a lot of fun, even in practice. There is very little of the drudgery that one encounters while learning to interfere, to tackle, or block on the football field. In hockey you are always active in some interesting detail or performance. There are none of the long waits that exist in baseball.

Derek 7:01 AM  

Post Harvard
From 1924 to 1928 George’s name in the spotlight had faded. He was playing amateur hockey for the Boston Hockey Club in 1924. From 1925 to 1927 he played for the Boston Athletic Association in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League. In 1928 he played for the University Club in Boston and his father was chairman.
After declining many offers to play professional hockey he joined the Bruins in January 1929.
Professional
His contract in January 1929 stipulated that he would not have to sever his connections with the Boston investment firm, to which he became attached when he graduated in 1923. It was said that he had turned down 4 previous offers from the Bruins.
Owen was more of a drawing card through his association with Harvard than he was a superb NHL hockey player. After a few games he was dropped down as reserve defenseman. To his credit Boston had Eddie Shore and Lionel Hitchman as the top pairing, and this was a tough pairing to crack. The Bruins used him as a utility player where he played both forward and defense. Some publications have looked at his numbers and suggest he was a high scoring defenseman, but many of his points were gained when on the forward ranks. He was one of the only players to wear a helmet.
He wasn’t a dirty player but was very strong and laid a heavy body-check. Joe Lamb once stated that it felt like having his arm in a vice when Owen acted as peacemaker during a scuffle.
Charles Adams clearly did not want to let Owen go because of his strong Boston ties. In the 1932-33 season it is seen that Art Ross wanted to send Owen to the minors but Adams stopped this demotion. Shortly after Ross obtained Alex Smith and Owen was still unable to get on a top pairing or land on the top 2 forward lines.
Owen was far more than just a publicity ploy for Charles Adams’ Bruins and finished a respectable 5 year career with 77 points (44-33) in 186 games. This was good for 8th in all-time points by a Bruin at the end of the 1932-33 season. He also had 2 goals and 5 assists in his playoff action. He was a member of the Stanley Cup team in 1929.
Post Bruins
In 1935 Owen took the head coach position of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hockey team, and remained as such until 1942. He coached football, hockey and baseball at Milton Academy from 1945 to 1965. In 1952 Owen became Athletic Director of Vermont Academy. He took part in some serious tennis matches in his retirement and in 1967, at the age of 65, he took to the ice in an old-timers match against the Montreal Canadiens. He remained active in sport and scouted for baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, and tutored pictures at Harvard and other area high schools and college. In 1983 he was elected to the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame. Owen died of a stroke in March 1986, at the age of 84, in Milton, Massachusetts. Approximately 250 people attended a memorial service for Owen yesterday at the Milton Academy chapel. His son, George Owen lll played in various minor league clubs.

Derek 7:44 AM  

I have ranked Owen 17th in the greatest Bruins prior to the original six (beginning 1942-43)

Anonymous,  4:23 AM  

George was my neighbor in Milton back in the mid 1970's - he was a friendly, personable, polite, and humble person. He told great stories of his time with the Bruins, and never turned us (11-13 y/o kids) away if we stopped by to speak with him.

Rebecca Morehouse Hall,  7:32 PM  

Fun read. He was my grandfather. Many special memories with him not athletic - he was a wonderful banjo player. He and my grandmother (an accomplished pianist) used to play together when I'd visit. A special man in every way.

He brought me to Milton Academy during one visit. He lifted me up to the rings that went around the gymnasium. The janitor there gave me a Milton Academy teeshirt for swinging around the gym twice without stopping. I don't remember how old I was, but I was tiny.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP