Dave Kerr is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but perhaps he should be. If not for his goaltending exploits, then for his foresight and sense of principle.
In an era when athletes were forced to shut up and play, Kerr stood up for his rights and essentially ended his career in his prime because he felt he wasn’t making a fair wage. One year removed from winning the Stanley Cup and the Vezina Trophy, Kerr left the game when New York Rangers GM Lester Patrick refused to pay him $10,000 a season.
Early in his career, goalies weren’t allowed to freeze the puck, so Kerr would often simply drop it into his pads, where an extra layer of padding was added above the knee. “It would get stuck and the referee would have to blow the whistle,” said hockey historian Bob Duff. “It was an accidentally-on-purpose kind of thing.”
Kerr did play the better part of 11 seasons in the NHL with the Rangers, Maroons and Americans, including playing every minute of every game in each of his last five seasons. He had a losing record in only one of those seasons and is one of only 13 goalies in history to post three shutouts in one playoff series. He had four shutouts in nine games in the 1936-37 playoffs and twice led the league in shutouts and once in victories.
Kerr was also the goaltender who backstopped the Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1939-40. It was another 54 years before the Rangers won again.
He played his angles without peer and seemed to have a book on every shooter, but it was Kerr’s inability to angle for a better contract that ultimately led to him leaving the game at 31 when he had more to give.
Born: Jan. 11, 1910, Toronto, Ont.
NHL Career: 1930-41
Teams: MtM, NYA, NYR
Stats: 203-148-75, 2.14 GAA, 51 SO
All-Star: 2 (First-1, Second-1)
Trophies: 1 (Vezina-1)
Stanley Cups: 1
DID YOU KNOW?
Just four starting goalies have won Stanley Cups with the New York Rangers, but only two of them – Eddie Giacomin and Mike Richter – have had their numbers retired by the organization.