On November 20, 1924, just in advance of the start of the Boston Bruins' first professional season, the Boston Globe reported on the brand new team and its players, writing:
These men appreciate that they have a task on their hands to overcome that snappy bunch of forwards who will do the attacking for the Saskatoon Sheiks in the first professional game at the Arena Thanksgiving night. Newsy Lalonde with the Sheiks certainly will turn loose a bunch of scorers.
Ah, Newsy Lalonde. Those men did indeed have quite the task ahead of them, both in terms of that game and the season to follow. Alas, as we've talked about before, it didn't go particularly well for the Bruins that first year, but it wasn't for lack of trying on the part of the brand-spanking new roster. They were a feisty group, those original Bruins, former members of a wide range of different leagues, including the Maritime Independent Hockey League, the Unites States Amateur Hockey Association, and the Ontario Hockey Association. More than a few hailed from the PCHA, or Pacific Coast Hockey Association, including Lloyd Cook, who had played for the Vancouver Millionaires, and Alf Skinner, who played for the Millionaires and the subsequent Vancouver Maroons.
No player brought as much experience to the nascent Bruins, however, as veteran right winger/defenseman Bobby Rowe. At 39 years of age, Rowe was by far the oldest player on that original squad (the next oldest players were 34) and the one with the most years of playing experience at all levels of hockey. He was a diminutive fellow at 5'6" and 160 lbs, but at the time of his signing with the Bruins had already been playing professional and amateur hockey for 22 years.
Rowe with the Victoria Aristocrats.
Where had he done all this playing, you may ask? Well, friends, let me tell you: every league in the universe and then some. He started off in 1902 at the age of 17 for the Portage Lake-Houghton team in the Exhibition Games Pro League (yep, that was a thing), where he scored 25 in 12 games, before playing some years in the Ontario Hockey Association Junior/Senior leagues. He played for the Temiskaming Professional League, the Federal Amateur Hockey League, and the Upper Ottawa Valley Hockey League before signing with the Renfrew Creamery Kings of the National Hockey Association (forerunner to today's NHL). After that, he spent 15 years in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, where he played for the Stanley Cup 4 times -- he won once, lost twice, and played in the Stanley Cup playoffs that were cancelled after the 5th game due to the flu pandemic of 1919.
Rowe's Stanley Cup winning team.
There's not a ton of information about Rowe's time with in Boston: he only played 4 games for the Bruins in their inaugural season, scoring his first and only NHL goal in the process. Art Ross mentioned him in the above November Boston Globe article, as he listed all the players and their nicknames -- Rowe was given the moniker "Stubby" for reasons we may never know (he wasn't even the shortest dude on that team, by a longshot).
Rowe played a final season with the Portland Rosebuds of the WHL in 1925-1926, then retired as a player -- though he did coach the Portland Buckaroos of the NHWL for two seasons in the 1930's, leading his team to the playoffs both times.
When we think of olde tymey Bruins, we often think of those who have made a lasting impact on the team and its history: your Milt Schmidts, your Eddie Shores. That first season of Bruins hockey, however, was characterized not by stars or league-leaders (though a few players on that squad, like Lionel Hitchman, had epic careers with the B's), but rather was a motley collection of vets and newcomers trying like hell to sell a brand-new NHL franchise. A veteran like Rowe, though he may not have played many games, brought a ton of experience to a lineup that needed all it could get, and in the process, created a base for team we would still be cheering 90 years later.
So on this day we give a shout out to you, Robert "Stubby" Rowe -- you will always be an original Bruin to me.