Monday, May 25, 2009

Floyd "Butch" Martin of the Johnstown Jets

Butch Martin was a two-time 2nd team EHL All-Star winger(1963 & 64) with the Johnstown Jets. He was also first team All-Star coach in 1963.

Here's an article from the Globe and Mail on Butch, mostly about his Canadian Olympic Bronze and Silver medals:

Same article, different site:
..Martin later returned to play for the Dutchmen and, after his two Olympic appearances, played pro for the Johnstown Jets of the Eastern Hockey League and briefly for the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL.

...After a stint at player-coach with the Jets, Martin returned home to become the second head coach of the Kitchener Rangers. In his one season with the major-junior club, he helped develop future NHLers Walt Tkaczuk and Mike Robitaille.

Martin continued to play old-timers hockey into his early 70s and still plays golf a few times a week at the Westmount Golf and Country Club. (Martin was asked if his handicap was still under 10. "No. When your age increases, so does your handicap," he said.)
From: The Waterloo County Hall of Fame:
b. 1929

Floyd Martin was born in Floradale in 1929. He began his hockey career with the Waterloo Siskins Jr. B., Guelph Biltmore Jr. A and the K-W Dutchmen. Because of his Mennonite upbringing, he wouldn't play hockey on Sundays and in October 1950, he quit the Dutchmen. He also cancelled a contract which he had signed with the New York Rangers. He resumed his career with intermediate and senior teams in Elmira but returned to the Dutchmen in 1956. He went with them to the Olympics in Cortina, Italy (1956) and Squaw Valley, California (1960) where they won bronze and silver medals. In 1961 he travelled with the Chatham Maroons on a goodwill trip to Russia and Sweden. From 1961 to 1964 Martin played for the Johnstown Jets of the Eastern league, including two years as coach.

He joined the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL as coach for one season. He spent three years as playing coach of the Guelph Regals and coached Guelph Junior B's in 1968 and 1969. He has played Polar Kings old-timers hockey since 1975.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What is a Dixie Flyer?

I used to roll my eyes at the name Nashville Dixie Flyers. Like "Solar Bears", "Sound Tigers", "Ice Bats" (or Ice Anything), or River Blades (or Anything Blades), Dixie Flyers always sounded like a forced pairing of two words that don't go together. I had assumed it was just a southernization of the name "Flyers". The fact that the Dixie Flyers were named in 1962, five years before the Philadelphia Flyers came into existence never quite dawned on me.

Even the Hockey News was confused on this point. If one looks back they'll find in some papers "-10" after the Nashville in the EHL standings, meaning that the Hockey News thought they were affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers. To my knowledge the two teams never had a working agreement.

 As it turns out, the Dixie Flyer was a passenger train that originally went from Nashville to Jacksonville (very EHL) in 1890. It's route was later extended from Chicago to Miami. Its last run was in September of 1965, in the middle of the Nashville Dixie Flyers' existence.

The only place I know of that Nashville used the Dixie Flyer train as part of the logo was on the original 1962-63 program covers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Butch Songin, Boston Patriots Quarterback Played in the first AFL Game and for the Eastern Hockey League Worcester Warriors

While looking for pictures of EHL players, I found this shot of Ed "Butch" Songin (hand raised to coach Lou Saban of the Boston Patriots) of the 1954-55 Worcester Warriors. It's from this article in the Boston Globe about Saban's passing.

Songin appears to be the only player to have played in the AFL/NFL and also the EHL. He played in the CFL, also - waiting until his season ended with the Hamilton Tiger Cats before signing with the EHL Warriors in 1954.

Songin is mentioned in this article by Evan Weiner about players who played both hockey and football for Hockey Wasn't Berry's Only Game .

The Warriors were a team made up of American amateurs as a bit of an experiment to see how they would fare against the other Canadian-filled teams. The Warriors also enabled the EAHL to reform after a year off into the EHL, merely by icing a team. The Hudson Valley Bears of the EPHL performed a similar function this year, with similar results - the results being few wins, few fans and often getting shellacked.

The original EHL schedule had Worcester playing every Tuesday at home, though many of these were later cancelled. Road games, except for nearby New Haven were usually played on weekends so the players could make the games. Bill Ballou gives a good account in his March 29, 2007 Worcester Telegram article: Short-lived Warriors Had Fun.

Like a few of the purely amateur Warriors, who needed day jobs, Butch Songin appears to have only played home games and one at New Haven. Aside from the CFL, he also missed a game for a snowstorm, a game that the league cancelled due to rescheduling, and another game where he played for the the "Boston Collegians" on January 2, 1955.

Here's a recap of Songin's lone EHL season as quoted from Worceter Telegram articles. The dates are the date of the newspaper, not the games.

Worcester Telegram, December 7, 1954
Ed (Butch) Songin, the ex-Boston College football and hockey star, has informed the Worcester Warriors that he will definitely be on hand. Songin signed last week has been resting up after a starring season with the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League
The Warriors won their first game (1-6) beating league-leading Clinton 6-5, however Songin did not play and no reason was given in the paper.

Worcester Telegram, December 14, 1954

Ed (Butch) Songin, the ex-Boston College star, and more recently a performer in the Canadian grid league, will make his first appearance tonight and will team with (Rod) O'Connor on defense.
Worcester Telegram,December 15, 1954

Songin, making his debut with the Worcesters as a result of little skating or practice and help the starring (Dusty) Burke (from Athol, MA) and the improved O'Connor in the games to come.
Songin had two assists in his first game, a 6-5 home win over the New Haven Blades:

O'Grady (Duffy, Songin) 17:09 1st - Frank O'Grady's long shot from the left, after a pretty combination play in which Ed (Butch) Songin, the ex-B.C. star, and Duffy helped, made it 3-2 (New Haven) just before the period closed.

Duffy (Cahoon, Songin) 16:45 2d - Duffy locked it up again at 4-4 on a pass from Songin.
Worcester Telegram, December 21, 1954

Songin, the burly ex-B.C. footballer, who made his debut with the Warriors last Tuesday, will be back to the team with Burke at the points. Songin, busy playing football with Hamilton in the Canadian Football League, wasn't in his best shape last week. But he has been skating daily since and expects to be in full stride from here in.
There was a huge east coast snowstorm and the Washington Lions, along with the individual Warriors players barely made it to the arena by game time. Songin didn't make it to the game. The Warriors (3-6) won their third game 5-3 in front of 304 fans.

December 29, 1954
Songin played in a 7-5 home loss to the arch-rival New Haven Blades before a sellout crowd of 1014 at Worcester Arena. Songin didn't make the box score or any mention in the article.

The following night at New Haven, possibly Songin's only road game, was a 10-2 loss to the Blades. Songin picked up an assist for 3 points in 3 games.
Jordan (Sennott, Songin) 9:12 3rd

January 2 & 3, 1955
The Warriors lost 7-1 vs. the Washington Lions at Uline Arena, and 10-4 vs. the Baltimore Clippers at Carlins Iceland. Songin did not make the trip. In fact, there is an article next to the Baltimore game article which shows Butch Songin and Jimmy Duffy stayed home and each scored for something called the Boston Collegians - not to be confused with Boston College which both had played for in the late 40s - beating St. Francis Xavier from Nova Scotia at Boston Arena in front of 2648.

Worcester Telegram, January 5, 1955
Songin had two goals, but the New Haven Blades beat the Warriors 5-3 on 2 late 3rd period goals.

Songin (Ceglarski, Burke) 18:58 2d- The Warriors however after the game stopped for a few minutes because of a pair of fights between Dick Hamm and Don Perry and Rod O'Connor and Al Fontana, broke the ice as Songin drove the puck past goalie Jack Geutens (Also spelled Geuten and Geutin in the box score) at 18:50. Both clubs were playing with three men on the ice at the time.
Len Ceglarski, who assisted is better known today as the highly successful hockey coach at Clarkson and Boston College. This may have been his only point as a pro (well, amateur) , but that's another post.
Songin (Sennott) 12:32 3rd - Worcester, however, trailing 3-1 seconds after the third period opened, dispalyed its best hockey of the game and tied the game at 12:32 on Butch Songin's second goal.
January 16, 1955
Songin (nor partner Burke) did not play in New Haven, an 8-1 Blades rout.

January 19, 1955
Songin (nor partner Burke) did not play in exhibition game against the US National team, which included Worcester Warriors Johnny Titus, Walter Greeley and Frank O'Grady.

A road trip followed, which I can only assume Songin did not make.

February 7, 1955
Two Songins in the lineup, H & W, neither one Butch. From we can derive that these were probably Walter (confirmed in a later article) and Harold, who I read somewhere were Butch's brothers. Harold got an assist and Walter got a high sticking minor.

February 13, 1955
A Songin, presumably Walter, was listed as a forward for the Warriors in a 14-2 loss at Clinton according to the Utica Observer.

February 23, 1955
Walter was a no show in spite being tabbed as on the top line in the previous day's paper. No Songins played as the New Haven Blades routed the Warriors 20-3 in the Warriors final game of the year and ever in the EHL. The Washingtoin Lions protested this game. An article in the February 26, 1955 Washington Post reads...

Thanks to a decision by league president Tom Lockhart, acting on a protest by Washington general manager Jack Riley, the Lions received a boost in their bid for second (place). Lockhart ruled that New Haven's 20-3 victory over Worcester Monday was an unofficial game as that game along with Worcester's final matches with Washington and Baltimore had previously been cancelled.
So the final EHL tally for Butch Songin appears to be:
4 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, no PIMs. 1 win 3 losses.

Still that's enough to be the only known player to have played in the EHL and the AFL/NFL, though not the only EHLer to have played professional football...

A Few 2008 EHL News Links...Clinton Comets, Syracuse Blazers, Greensboro Generals

Here's a few 2008 EHL news links that I'm removing from front page, but wanted to save.

Thursday, October 2, 2008
Skaters Flock to Clinton By Marques Phillips Utica Observer-Dispatch
CLINTON - For more than a half a century, the ice at Clinton Arena has been a blank canvas for figure skating artists to use their pallet of spins, jumps and dance moves to sculpt a skating identity...more

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Greensboro Booster Club is having a meeting Wednesday night, Sept.17th at Shoney's on Regional Road, Eat: 6:00, Meet: 7:00PM. Head Coach Mark Richards and Assistant Coach Sean Cowan for the Cyclones will be there. Everyone is invited to attend.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
War Memorial Gets an Update Onondaga County is on the hook for repairs it promised the Crunch
By John Mariani, Staff writer.

July 22, 2008
Clinton Comets to appear at fundraiser Utica Observer-Dispatch
CLINTON — The Clinton Comets will be together again. Or at least a few of them will be next Wednesday at one of two gatherings to raise funds for the Reschetnikow Benefit Fund. “An Evening with the Clinton Comets” will be held from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 30 at VFW Post 9591 on Franklin Avenue, with coach Pat Kelly, captain Jack Kane and several other members of the very successful and wildly popular Eastern Hockey League team of the 1950s and 1960s scheduled to attend... more

Friday, May 1, 2009

36 Years Ago Today - The EHL Dissolves into the NAHL and SHL

On April 12, 1973 the Syracuse Blazers won the EHL championship. As Ray Adduono skated around the rink with the Walker Trophy, it broke into three pieces. This was symbolic of what was about to happen to the EHL, splitting into three pieces (the NAHL, the SHL and the others) on May 1, 1973 at the last ever league meeting. Here's the AP Wire version of the story...
NEW YORK (AP) - The Eastern Hockey League, at its annual meeting in New York Tuesday, announced the formal dissolution of the EHL and the creation of two seperate leagues, one based in the north and the other operating out of the south, to fill the void.
The northern league, titled the North American Hockey League, plans to begin play this fall with a minimum of six teams. Charter members include the Cape Cod Cubs, Mohawk Valley Comets, Johnstown, Pa. Jets and the Binghamton, N.Y. Dusters. At least two additional NAHL entries are expected to be named shortly, with franchises from Rhode Island and Lewiston, Me. having the inside track. A Long Island entry is also a possibility. Cape Cod, Mohawk Valley and Johnstown were members of the now disbanded EHL. The NAHL, which is scheduled to begin a 74-game regular season Oct. 12, chose Jack Newkirk of Cape Cod as temporary chairman and Ed Stanley of Mohawk Valley as treasurer.
Earlier Tuesday, the Southern Hockey League was formed, with franchises granted to Charlotte, N.C., Greensboro, N.C., Winston-Salem, N.C., Roanoke Valley, Va. and St. Petersburg, Fla.
Binghamton and Lewiston had previously applied for EHL membership, and both were expected to be in the league for 1973-74.

It's interesting that Ed Stanley, who was the Clinton Arena manager who got Clinton into the league in 1954 became treasurer of the new NAHL. In 1973, Clinton had just been sold to a group of locals in a "Save the Comets" kind of deal. The new ownership, splitting the team between Clinton and Utica, renamed the team the Mohawk Valley Comets. Stanley was not one of the owners.

Of the teams not mentioned...
Syracuse Blazers owner Bill Charles had been angling all season to get into the AHL. They ended up back in the NAHL.
The Jersey Devils are a blog in themselves of things going wrong for them at that time. They were hoping for a northern division in the SHL or a southern division in the NAHL, neither of which happened. They were given two weeks to make a decision which league to join. In spite of the Philadelphia Blazers moving to Vancouver within that timeframe, the Devils never made it to the next season.
The Long Island Ducks, also affected by a local WHA franchise, had tried to fold at the end of the 1973 regular season - and even told the Devils to take their spot in the playoffs, before the league intervened and made the Ducks play. On May 24, 1973, the Long Island Cougars, under different ownership and as a farm team of the WHA Chicago Cougars, were accepted into the NAHL.
Rhode Island never made it to the gate.

In the south, Baltimore, Alabama were listed as possibilities for other first year franchises, but neither developed. The Macon Whoopees were added as the sixth SHL franchise that summer.