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No Love for Nels Stewart

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  • No Love for Nels Stewart

    The Howe vs Richard pricing thread made me think about how Nels Stewart does not seem to get the credit that he deserves compared to Howie Morenz. It's strange to see how someone who held the all-time goal scoring record for so long wouldn't be the most valuable card in any set, short prints notwithstanding.

    Is the Morenz / Stewart situation similar to the Cobb / Ruth situation in baseball, where Ty Cobb was arguably the better player, but the legacy of Ruth far exceeds stats when it comes to collecting?

    Did the suicide of Morenz during his playing days help to embellish how great of a player he actually was? Or was it Nels Stewart's poor skating ability and dirty play that made him less of a fan favorite? But if that's the case, then why is someone like Eddie Shore so revered, despite his temperament?

    Or is it something to do with playing for the Montreal Canadiens and not the Montreal Maroons?


  • #2
    Originally posted by AANVJeff View Post

    Is the Morenz / Stewart situation similar to the Cobb / Ruth situation in baseball, where Ty Cobb was arguably the better player, but the legacy of Ruth far exceeds stats when it comes to collecting?
    Ty Cobb played in the dead-ball era and his playing style was very different compared to Ruth's. He was a very technical player and used his intelligence and speed to dominate others. Ruth, on the other hand, used his power. He was also one of the greatest pitchers of his time. Cobb was great, but Ruth was better.

    Originally posted by AANVJeff View Post
    Did the suicide of Morenz during his playing days help to embellish how great of a player he actually was?


    Suicide?

    Comment


    • #3
      Morenz died of a blood clot or embolism or something of the like. He certainly did not commit suicide. That said, this question about Stewart is excellent. I've thought about it a lot over the years. It's the same with Cy Denneny - all-time superstars who are treated like run of the mill stars.

      In Stewart's case, I chock it up to him being a less entertaining player than other stars. He didn't skate well and certainly wasn't a dangler to behold. I understand many of his goals were tip ins or shots from close range (like Phil Esposito). Neither player's style won him many fans compared to other similarly productive ones. Just my thoughts.

      I agree that being a Maroon makes him much less popular than a Canadien. I know a whole lot of Habs fans. I know one Maroons fan.

      Comment


      • #4
        Howie Morenz hanged himself after he found out that he couldn't play hockey again. The press released a statement that he died of a broken heart and that's the tale that has carried a life of its own since his death.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by AANVJeff View Post
          Howie Morenz hanged himself after he found out that he couldn't play hockey again.
          That obviously doesn't make any sense because he broke his leg right at the end of his career and he was pretty much done for anyways. He had been in decline for quite a few years prior to this tragedy.

          Comment


          • HowieMorenz7
            HowieMorenz7 commented
            Editing a comment
            That is a myth that some people want to believe---total farce

        • #6
          I, too, have often wondered why Nels Stewart doesn't get more attention in the collector's community.

          This Howie Morenz suicide theory is a bolt from the blue. Where did it originate?

          Comment


          • #7
            There a few reasons Morenz is the much more popular player:
            1. Morenz was better, as attested to by his 3 Hart Trophies and 1 runner-up finish compared with 2 for Stewart, and his 2 “Art Rosses” compared to Stewart’s 1
            2. Morenz won 3 Cups compared with 1 for Stewart
            3. Morenz played for the Canadiens while Stewart enjoyed his best years with the less popular Maroons
            4. Morenz has the tragic story. With Pre-War players the story often outweighs anything else since statistics are not as complete and no one here saw them play (Vezina’s popularity compared with Benedict’s is a similar scenario).

            Comment


            • #8
              The lack of love overall for Pre-War hockey players is disappointing; players such as Cobb, Ruth, Gehrig, Wager, Johnson, etc are considered among the top 10 baseball players yet Morenz, Shore, Stewart, etc are rarely listed as the top 10-15 players they are.

              Comment


              • Stampsfan
                Stampsfan commented
                Editing a comment
                +1

                Well put Anish. I'm including Christy Mathewson and Cy Young in your list too. I'm so with you, and I don't get it. I have books and other items (like calendars) from the 40-s and 50's that revere players like Stewart, Morenz, and the volume of goals they scored. 200 plus goals was an incredible feat in those days, and the game has transcended these players.

            • #9
              I have to agree with Anish's explanation of things.

              I also will chime in with an observation I have had that might play a role in things as well:
              It all doesn't hurt Morenz's case that his main playing career was with the Habs (and the Blackhawks/Rangers to a lesser extent) which is an iconic team that still is chugging along today (same with the other two) and still has players today referring back to him as being one of the legends to carry on the tradition with. Essentially, players and fans today have something current and tangible to identify him with. The old he was and always will be one of our own mentality. That and hardcore fans priding themselves on being wrapped up with the history of the team.

              Poor Nels played for the NY Americans and the Maroons (along with a few throw in seasons with the Bruins) which are long gone. There is no current fan base to champion his legacy and no tradition to carry on. It is unfortunate but of all the pre-war players, the stars who played for primarily defunct teams likely are less known and less paid attention to.

              As someone just over 30, I obviously haven't seen these players play. But as a fan of the game and a fan of history and growing up in Ottawa, I have probably more of an association and respect for many of those early Senators players like Benedict, Nighbor or Denneny. Streets here are named after them which makes it obvious, but I can appreciate the community pride associated with the teams then (not so much today - life long Pens fan). I couldn't say that about someone who played for the Maroons or Americans.

              All this to say, If there is a direct connection with someone, your more likely to know and remember and I think that has a huge impact when we look back at these players.

              Comment


              • hart2004
                hart2004 commented
                Editing a comment
                Great point A-J. Stars of defunct teams don't get near the love of Habs/Leafs legends.
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