Sweeney Schriner

"He was the best left winger I ever saw. That includes everybody - Frank Mahovlich, Busher Jackson, Bobby Hull, everybody."

Those were the words of Conn Smythe, one of hockey's greatest architects, used to describe Dave "Sweeney" Schriner.

Although Schriner is not as well remembered as other great players of his era, Smythe just might have been right.

Dave Schriner was born Nov. 30, 1911 in Saratov, Russia. While still an infant, his family moved to Calgary, Alberta where he grew up and learned to play hockey and other sports. Baseball was his other great love, and he idolized a local baseball hero named Bill Sweeney. His friends dubbed him Sweeney Schriner, and it stuck forever. He also starred in football and soccer.

But hockey was the game that he excelled at the most. He would spend the long winter months skating on outdoor city rinks. He would advance to the senior ranks where he would become a scoring legend with the Calgary Broncs.

Word of Schriner's excellence spread all the way to New York, USA. In 1934-35 the New York Americans offered Schriner a job. Schriner jumped at the chance as the NHL paid fairly well in the midst of the Great Depression.

The New York Americans were a woefully weak team, but Schriner quickly developed as the team's brightest and on most nights lone star. He would win the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in 1935, and lead the NHL in scoring in 1936 and again in 1937. Yet in his 5 seasons in New York, the financially troubled Americans went nowhere.

In the summer of 1939, Schriner was traded in a mammoth deal designed to give the Americans the depth they needed to become a better team, and to give Toronto a super star. Toronto traded Buzz Boll, Doc Romnes, Jim Fowler, Murray Armstrong and former super star Busher Jackson to New York all for Schriner.

Schriner enjoyed playing for the Leafs. The team offered him stability and a supporting cast, and allowed him to thrive without having to be the one-man-show of years past. He would continue to be a top scorer while the Leafs, although was never quite as in explosive fashion that he was known for in New York.

Schriner's offense powered the Leafs to Stanley Cup victories in 1942 and 1945. The 1942 championship is legendary. The Leafs were down to the Detroit Red Wings 3 games to 0 yet managed to battle back to force a game 7. In the decisive showdown Schriner scored 2 goals in a 3-1 victory to complete the most improbable of comebacks!

Schriner retired from the NHL in 1946 and returned to the prairies to coach. In 1948-49 he would come out of retirement to play senior hockey with the Regina Capitals. He turned in a spectacular season despite a long layoff, leading Regina to a berth in the Allan Cup finals..

In 11 NHL seasons, Schriner scored a total of 201 goals and 405 points. This two time NHL scoring champion and two time Stanley Cup champion was immortalized in hockey history when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.


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