Babe Siebert

Albert "Babe" Siebert was a great hockey player, and an even better person.

Siebert was one of those few players who could do it all - excelling both as a power forward and an all star defenseman. You don't see that any longer! He was as strong as an ox, making him nearly impossible to stop. In addition he added very good skating abilities with good straight-ahead speed. He was very responsible defensively and though he never had the scoring exploits of his famous "S" Line teammates, he was an underrated shooter and a skillful playmaker.

Born in Plattsville, Ontario, Jan. 14, 1904, and played his minor hockey in Zurich, Ontario. He played for Kitchener in the OHA in 1922-23 and quickly elevated to the senior level, playing with Niagara Falls. In 1925-26 Siebert made the jump into the National Hockey League with the Montreal Maroons, just in time to taste sweet victory from the Stanley Cup.

Though Siebert was initially utilized as a defenseman, Siebert quickly earned a reputation as an outstanding left winger when he replaced Jimmy Ward on a line with Nels Stewart and newcomer Hooley Smith. The line was quickly dubbed as the S-line, one of the most famous trios in hockey history.

After several strong scoring seasons, the trio was shockingly broken up in 1932 when the cash starved Maroons traded Stewart to Boston and Siebert to the Rangers. Siebert, who was coming off of a career high 21 goals in his last season with the Maroons, spent 1 1/2 seasons in New York before he was traded to Boston.

It was a unique situation in Boston as Siebert's hated rival Eddie Shore was on the team. The two never spoke and it was obvious they didn't like each other. Earlier in their careers they had a bloody fight in which Siebert administered a beating on Shore, who was allegedly held down by another Maroon.

Unable to recapture any magic in Boston, Siebert was mistakenly written off as being in the twilight of his career. The Bruins moved Siebert to Montreal, though this time he was to play with the fabled Canadiens.

The Canadiens realized that Siebert no longer had the speed needed to excel at forward, so they moved him back to the blue line. The move by coach Cecil Hart was sheer genius, as Siebert was reinvented into one of the league's best players again. Some would argue he was never better.

Siebert, who was also named as team captain, played in 3 seasons in Montreal, being named to the first all star team on defense in all three years. He was also named as the league's most valuable player in 1937, a rarity for NHL defensemen. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to have seen his best days gone by.

Babe Siebert died tragically on Aug. 25, 1939, in St. Joseph, Ontario, as the result of a drowning accident. He was trying to retrieve an inflated rubber tube that had drifted out into the middle of the lake. He was supposed to take over as coach of the Canadiens that autumn.

His death left his family in great financial distress. The NHL stepped in and held a memorial game for him, much like they did for Ace Bailey and Howie Morenz. The proceeds of $15,000 went to Siebert's widow and 2 daughters. This was the third all-star game in NHL history.

That's the kind of person Siebert was. On the ice he was as strong as on ox, but off of it he was a pussy cat.

Sportswriter Elmer Ferguson wrote the following about Siebert the hockey player, and Siebert the man.

"The Babe would become embroiled in fistic battles. Perhaps he would suffer penalties, earn the disfavor of the crowd by his bruising style of play. Perhaps the game would make him seem like a crude and uncouth person, rough and brutal. From the dressing room, the Babe would stride along the promenade until he reached the chair where his fragile bit of an invalid wife sat. Bending down, he would kiss her, then he would gather her up into his great muscular arms, stride out of the rink, and deposit her carefully in a waiting car that would take her home to the kiddies that he adored so much."


Derek 12:40 PM  

Farewell to the Flying Dutchman
Years ago in the tiny village of Dashwood, Ontario, the kids used to bring their skates to school in winter-time, for there was a frozen pond nearby. When the clock showed recess time was approaching, those kids would slip on their skates and as the bell proclaimed the period of freedom, they would clatter out “to shinny on their own side.” One of those kids was Albert Charles Siebert, who, in his own words, was just a ‘punk’ then, so much so indeed, that even the possession of that priceless treasure in those days – a real rubber puck – was not enough to get him a place on a team for a long, long while.
But that same Albert Charles Siebert, who had a love of hockey ingrained in his being during his boyhood, went on to become Babe Siebert, one of the game’s greatest stars over a period of 14 years in the major league.
And, difficult and heart breaking as it is to comprehend today, it was that same Babe Siebert, who lost his life so tragically yesterday by drowning in Lake Huron. That accident has delivered a devastating shock to the hockey world in general and to Montreal and Canadiens in particular.

Derek 12:43 PM  

A fighter on the ice who played the game for all it was worth and who gave and asked no quarter, the Babe was quiet, unobtrusive, and soft-spoken off the ice, and a marvelous family man. Those things were never in the headlines, but the Babe cared for an invalid wife with a surpassing tenderness and affection – and he was fully acquainted with the ins and outs of housework as he reared their two children, Judy and Joan now 11 and 10, with an attention few fathers, no matter how loving, have time to give their youngsters. The Babe recently had taken his family from his home here in Montreal to visit his parents’ home in Zurich for the purpose of celebrating his father’s 80th birthday. And it was while swimming with his two little daughters that he was drowned.
Frank Calder, President of the NHL, deeply shocked at the death of one whom he admired as a mighty hockey player paid an even more touching tribute to Siebert, the husband and father, as a “good provider for his family, whose deep devotion to his wife and children is an example worth following by any man.”
Siebert had really two personalities on and off the ice. On the ice, he was roaring, driving, charging demon. He gave all he had every second he was in action. He fought and battled hard himself with every ounce of strength he possessed. And because he played hard himself he expected the same of everyone else. He yelled encouragement to his teammates, swore at them if he thought it necessary. He was a rallying point in a losing cause; an inspiration in victory. Many a time he has enraged his teammates by his remarks in the heat of action, but it always served only to make them more mad at themselves than at him, and they took it out on the opposition. And in the dressing room afterwards, it was all forgotten. No one ever reproached him; he never mentioned it himself.
In the dressing room, Siebert sat in a corner by himself, smoking. He never bothered anyone; talked only when he was spoken to. Even on trips, the Babe seldom entered into the poker and bridge games of the other players, though in his Canadien days he might indulge in a rummy game with, say Cecil Hart Jules Dugal and Jimmy McKenna. But usually, if the club was pulling out of a city late at night, you’d find the Babe curled up in his lower berth, examining fondly a new rod or reel, some new line or a set of flies he had just bought. For he was a confirmed fisherman and hunter.

Derek 12:47 PM  

Maybe some of the fans thought the Babe was cold and emotionless as he hammered down opposing players with relentless and devastating consistency. But that’s because they weren’t around the rink half an hour or so before game time, or half an hour afterwards. If so, they would have seen the Babe tenderly lift his partially crippled wife from an automobile and carry her to a rink-side seat, then carry her back again after the game was over.
“A tough guy,” they called the Babe, but they didn’t see him working around the house, an apron draped over his suit, doing work that his wife was unable to do. They didn’t see him playing with his two children, showing pictures of them around the dressing-room.

-He was drowned in Lake Huron at St. Joseph, Ontario.

Siebert was swimming with his two children and a friend, Clayton Hoffman of Zurich. The hockey star called for help and disappeared about 150 feet from shore when he swam after an inflated inner tube which had drifted away from his little daughter.
Fifteen men started to watch the shoreline for the body and to dive in the spot where Siebert disappeared. A fishing boat set out from Grand Bend to start dragging.
Clayton Hoffman, formerly prominent in amateur baseball and hockey with Galt teams, said he accompanied Siebert, his two children and two nieces to the lake. One of the children let go of a rubber tube when Siebert called her in, Hoffman recounted, and swam to Shore.
“Babe then went out to get the tube” Hoffman said, “But the wind was carrying it along parallel to the shoreline and it was soon apparent that he was in difficulty. I was standing on the shore fully dressed when I heard his cries for help.”
Hoffman went into the water with his clothes on. He got to within 35 feet of Siebert when his clothes began to slip off and became tangled in his feet.
“Before I could reach him, Babe had gone down for the last time, Hoffman said.
Miss Burnette Mouseau of Zurich, sitting in a car at the beach, raised an alarm and Hoffman ran to a nearby home to summon aid. When others arrived to take up the search, Hoffman drove to Zurich and brought a score of residents to the scene.

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