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An Abridged History of Bruin-Senator Relations: The Early Years

Oh, Flash <3 <3 <3
Oh, Flash <3 <3 <3
Bruins Press Photograph

Hello, everyone. Senators fan and cool dude Ken Davis bought a post for Movember a while back, and with the Bruins picking Daugavins off waivers decided that I should look at Bruins/Senators relations through the years. Here's what should have been a quick trip, but then I got into it. This is part one. Part 2 will run whenever I get around to writing it.

70 people have played or head-coached for the Boston Bruins that have also played for a team in Ottawa called the Senators. Some of them are from the current incarnation, and some are from the previous one that the current one is named after. I'm going to skip over the guys like Josh Hennessy that played 3 games for the Bruins and 20 for Ottawa, comprising his whole career in the NHL. No, I won't waste time on Walter Kalbfleisch, the mid-1930s Josh Hennesy (split his 23 games between Ottawa and Boston 22-1 in favor of Ottawa, but played a few more elsewhere.)

Today we're going to talk about the greats. Guys who get their numbers raised to the rafters. Cy Denneny, bless his heart, played 305 games in Ottawa in 1918-1928 and won 4 cups there, winning scoring titles by the bunch. Then in 1928, the Bruins hired him to play and coach the Boston Bruins. The Bruins won their first cup that year. Cy didn't do a lot of scoring, but he did do plenty of winning. He retired the all-time leading scorer in NHL history (go figure, he had been in the NHL since year one, and they just introduced the forward pass before he retired). Cy wasn't the only former senator on that 1929 team. There were in fact 5 former Ottawa Senators on the 1929 Stanley Cup Champions: Cooney Weiland, Dutch Gainor, Percy Galbrath, Lionel Hitchman, and of course Cy. What a group.

The 1939 squad featured former Minnesota Millner Cooney Weiland again. During the interim ten years, he had done two-year stints in Ottawa and Detroit before returning home to Boston. That 1939 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins Team also included one Flash Hollett, who the Bruins bought from the Leafs. Flash had been loaned by the Leafs to the Senators (really!!!) for the Senators' final season. Flash was a good defenseman, joining Eddie Shore and Dit Clapper on a then-legendary defense. It didn't hurt that Frank Brimsek was tending net behind them, either.

In the 1939 finals, Brimsek only let Toronto score 6 goals in 5 games - no easy feat considering the Leafs were making their second finals appearance in a row. Flash had an assist on the first of two goals within 2 minutes of each other in Game 2 that tied the game. Hollett ended the series with the final goal at 19:23 of the 3rd period. I believe it was an empty-netter, as the Bruins were already up 2-1 at the time.

The 1941 team saw the return of both Cooney Weiland and Flash Hollett, with a small change: Cooney was now coach. Eddie Shore had moved on to running his own team full-time, and Dit Clapper was now captain. The Bruins outscored every other team in the league, and only let in 3 more goals than the Leafs, the season leader in GA. The Bruins had an incredible unbeaten run of 23 games to finish out the season. When you have a good regular season your players win award. Bill Cowley won MVP and Bobby Bauer won Lady Byng, both playing for the B. Frank Brimsek would have won the Vezina but Turk Broda had a dominant year in the Blue and White. Flash Hollett led the blue line in goals, while Clapper led in points. Wouldn't want those guys bearing down on you in 1941.

In the 1941 finals, the Bruins took on Detroit. Boston won a tight 4-3 series agains the aforementioned Turk Broda and his stingy Leafs to play there, while the Detroit Red Wings worked their way through the other teams. Once they reached the finals, however, the better team showed through. Boston swept Detroit 4-0. Detroit led at 4 different times during the last three games, but couldn't handle the Bruins offense, flowing through Hollett, Schmidt, Conacher, Cowley, and Bauer.

Flash Hollett would go on to set a record for most goals by a defenseman in his next season with the Bruins, scoring 19 goals two seasons in a row. Later he moved on to the Red Wings, where he potted 20 goals in a season in 1945. This would stand as the goals-by-a-defenseman record until a polite young gentleman from Parry Sound, Ontario (number 4 in your program, number one in your hearts) set the world on fire. Flash Hollett retired the highest-scoring defenseman in league history. He was also the last active member of the original Ottawa Senators.

Cooney Weiland would leave NHL coaching after 1941, doing a stint in the AHL before taking over at Harvard. Cooney Weiland coached Harvard to over 300 wins during his time there, which is probably more than they've ever won prior to that.

Denneny and Weiland were the only ones to make the list as player and coach. Sprague Cleghorn is the only one that played Goalie and Skater, though he never won a cup with Boston.

Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins doomed to play for The Ottawa Senators or Saved from The Ottawa Senators, Early Years:


Cy Denneny (Player/Coach)

Dutch Gainor

Lionel Hitchman

Cooney Weiland

Percy Galbraith


Cooney Weiland

Flash Hollett


Cooney Weiland (Coach)

Flash Hollett

Thanks again to Ken for donating to Movember. It helps an important cause.