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Did You Know?
Igor Larianov’s 2008 election to
the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto
made the “Russian Professor“ the
60th Red Wing to be enshrined in
Perhaps the most anonymous of
all those first five dozen Detroit
HoFamers is John Phillip “Jack” Walker.
DID YOU KNOW that Jack Walker
was the “Original Six” of the Red
Actually, Walker never was a Red
Wing. He skated for the Detroit
Cougars (who were later renamed
the Falcons then the Red Wings) during the team’s first two seasons in the
National Hockey League.
Walker was a left winger who played for the Cougars in 1926-27 at Border
Cities Arena (now Windsor Arena), then moved with the team into new Olympia
Stadium for the 1927-28 campaign. Those two years concluded an 18 season
major pro career for Walker, who had starred elsewhere.
Walker was Detroit’s “Original Six.” He was the first NHL player to wear sweater #6
for the new franchise in his two Detroit Cougars seasons. He remains one of only three
players to ever wear that number for Detroit. Legendary Detroit Coach/GM Jack Adams’
favorite player was right winger Larry Aurie, who took #6 as an NHL rookie after Walker
departed Detroit in 1928. Aurie wore #6 into the 1938-39 season where he played just
a single game. When Aurie’s days as a player were over, Adams never officially retired
the jersey, but didn’t issue it to anybody else. The only other Red Wing to wear #6 was
Cummey Burton, Aurie’s nephew, who had a short stint as a Detroit left winger during
three different 1950s Detroit seasons. During his second call-up to the Wings Burton
was given his uncle's #6 for the 1957-58 and 1958-59 seasons.
Born in Silver Mountain, Ontario on 11/29/1888, Walker won three Stanley Cups with
three different teams in three different leagues while playing pro or semi-pro hockey
from 1905--33. He played in four other Stanley Cup Finals on losing teams.
Walker is credited with introducing the hook check to ice hockey, using his stick to
slow down a faster foe in an era where players were whistled to the penalty box only
for serious infractions.
Walker played semi-pro hockey in Port Arthur, ONT from 1905–12, He was part of
the Port Arthur Bearcats club of the Northern Ontario Hockey League which defeated
the Saskatchewan champions from Prince Albert to earn the right to challenge the mighty
Ottawa Senators for the 1911 Stanley Cup. Walker scored a goal, but Port Arthur was
routed 14-4 at Ottawa in the one-game challenge as the Senators won their second
consecutive S-Cup and fifth challenge in six over a three year span from 1909–11.
Walker moved on to big time hockey in 1912 when he joined the Toronto Blueshirts
(forerunners of the current Maple Leafs) of the NHA (now the NHL). However, he jumped
the team after only one game to play for the Moncton Victorias of the Maritime Pro
Hockey League for the rest of the 1912-13 season. Nevertheless, Walker was welcomed
back to Toronto in 1913-14 and led the NHA with 16 assists in 20 games as he helped the
Blueshirts win the Stanley Cup in a three game home ice sweep of the visiting Victoria
Cougars. Walker had one goal and three penalty minutes in the three games.
Walker left Toronto for good after the 1914-15 season, going west to join the powerful
Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA for nine years where he was named to the league’s first
All-Star team three times and second All-Star squad three more times. He was part of the
Mets Stanley Cup Championship squad in 1916-17 when Seattle became the first US-based
team to win the Cup. The Mets beat the defending S-Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens
3-1 in a best-of-5 series in the spring of 1917 with all the games played in Seattle. Walker
had a goal and two assists in the four games.
Seattle and Walker had two more unsuccessful attempts to regain the Stanley Cup.
The 1919 series between the Mets and Montreal Canadiens was 2-2-&-1 after five
games. The last two contests, including a 0-0 tie, went to overtime. However, the
competition was abruptly halted. The series was canceled due to a serious influenza
epidemic throughout North America. Several players became ill and Canadiens defenseman
Joe Hall died in a Seattle hospital on 5/5/1919. Walker had starred for Seattle in the
deadlocked series with three goals in the five games.
In 1920, Seattle lost 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators in a five game series where the Mets
had battled back to deadlock the set at 2-all after trailing 0-2. The first three games were
played at Ottawa and the last two moved to Toronto due to poor ice conditions. Walker
had a goal and three assists for the five games in the red, white and green “barber pole”
uniform of the Metropolitans.
When financial woes forced Seattle and the PCHA to fold, the only two of the surviving
clubs joined the Western Canada Hockey League for the 1924-25 season. One of them, the
Victoria Cougars, signed veteran Walker on 11/10/1924.
Walker would lead the WCHL in penalty minutes in 1924-25 with a modest total of 14-PIM
in 28 games. The Cougars would go on to defeat the Montreal Canadiens in the then annual
east-west challenge to win the Stanley Cup and give Walker an unusual Championship Hat
Trick. Walker scored four of his team’s 16 goals and added two assists for six points in four
games with the Cougars unseating the defending champs 3-1 in a series where three games
were played in Victoria, BC and the other on “neutral ice” in Vancouver, BC. The 1925
Victoria Cougars were the last non-NHL team to win the Stanley Cup.
The Cougars would lose the S-Cup in the spring of 1926, falling 3-1 in a best-of-5 set at
the Montreal Maroons. Walker was held pointless while playing all four games.
The Cougars team (but not the failing franchise) was then purchased and moved to
Detroit where local interests had secured a National Hockey League franchise, but had
no players and hadn’t yet built an arena. Walker’s was one of the players whose contracts
were bought up on 5/15/1926.
By the time he had arrived in Detroit, Walker was strictly a defensive forward. His
two season Detroit Cougars career showed a combined five goals and eight assists in
80 games played with 18 penalty minutes. The new Detroit club failed to make the playoffs
Walker obtained his release from Detroit in 1928 in order to become player-coach
of Seattle in the minor pro PCHL. He first returned to Seattle with the Seahawks, which
became the Eskimos. There, Walker won the Muldoon Trophy as league MVP. Walker then
skated briefly with the Hollywood Stars and Oakland Sheiks of the Cal-Pro league into the
After his retirement as a player Walker settled in Seattle and coached youth hockey.
Walker died on 2/16/1950 at age 61. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame ten years
later in 1960.
Detroit's "Original Six" remains its least-known Hockey Hall of Famer.
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