Andy Blair

Chances are pretty good you've never heard of Andy Blair. After all, he retired from the NHL way back in 1937.

But in his day Andy was very much a dandy.

Blair, one of the first NHLers to sport a mustache, was a lanky center out of Winnipeg. At 6'2" and 180 lbs he was intimidatingly tall for his day. A distant cousin of the great Syl Apps and Murray Murdoch, Blair was quite the athlete growing up, starring in football, rugby, track and field and even golf. But it was hockey that was his game, and he was amongst the best young players in the city, starring at St. John's College high school.

Blair went on to the University of Manitoba where he earned a bachelor of arts degree. He was a star footballer and of course hockey player, leading the team to the Allan Cup championship in his final season. In those days the Allan Cup, given to Canada's amateur champions, was about as prestigious as the Stanley Cup. He also played with two other senior teams while going to school.

A young hockey executive named Conn Smythe was very impressed with Blair's play, and recruited him from the New York Rangers to join the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It would turn out to be a great move for the Leafs, and one that would haunt the Rangers.

Blair would step in nicely and contribute 12 goals and 27 points in 44 games in the 1928-29 season, second best totals on the team. Blair found himself playing along side two legendary Leafs: Ace Bailey and Baldy Cotton.

The team got stronger and by 1932 they challenged for their first Stanley Cup as the Leafs. Ironically for Blair, the competition was the New York Rangers. Blair teamed nicely with Bob Gracie and Frank Finnigan on "the Pepper Boys line," a revolutionary third line that was known for its "peppery" or aggressive style of play.

Blair chipped in with some timely offense as well. In the third and Cup clinching game, Blair scored the first two goals of the game. Toronto won the game 6-4 on Maple Leaf Gardens ice.

In 1933 Blair continued to improve his reputation as a go-to player in the playoffs. He was instrumental in the Leafs 1-0 five overtimes game against Boston on April 3rd. Though Ken Doraty gets the credit for scoring the goal, it was Andy Blair who stripped Hall of Famer Eddie Shore's pass and set up Doraty for the quick shot past Tiny Thompson.

WIth the game ending in the early hours of the morning, the Leafs had to scramble to the train station to once again meet the New York Rangers in the finals the very next day. The team did not arrive in New York until 4:30 in the afternoon, and were easy prey for the Rangers. The Rangers took the Cup in 4 games.

In 1933-34 Blair scored a career high 14 goals, but his career was about to decline. He spent two more years with the Leafs before finishing out his NHL career with a season in Chicago.

In 401 NHL games Andy Blair scored 74 goals, 86 assists and 130 points.

Blair went into the pipe business after hockey, retiring in 1969. He died of a heart attack two days after Christmas in 1977. He was 70 years old.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP