Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - One on One with Newsy Lalonde
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One on One with Newsy Lalonde

5 DEC 2008
As a member of the Montreal Canadiens, Edouard "Newsy" Lalonde scored the franchise's first NHL goal on January 5, 1910. (HHOF Archives)
During the 1910s, professional hockey leagues had begun supplanting amateur leagues. Although team owners had often circumvented professionalism by paying players under the table or offering them well-paying jobs in exchange for their hockey services, the idea of paying players to compete had been abhorrent to early leagues. But as competition increased, better players found that their services could be procured through payment from competitive teams, and professionalism quickly engaged hockey at its highest levels. 'Newsy' Lalonde was one of those players eagerly pursued by teams, and although early in his career he leapt from team to team, he discovered a home in Montreal and spent twelve seasons with the Canadiens.

Edouard Charles Lalonde was born on October 31, 1888 in the eastern Ontario town of Cornwall. "My family came from Cornwall, Ontario, where I was born, and we didn't have much money," he told Stan and Shirley Fischler in their book, 'Heroes & History'. "My father owned a small shoe store while my mother took care of the house."

While other boys were out skating during the winter, no such option was available to Lalonde. "I didn't get my first pair of skates until my thirteenth birthday. We didn't have a rink in our neighbourhood so we played wherever there was ice — the street, the pond, whatever."

After a brief stint with the Vancouver Millionaires, Lalonde rejoined the Canadiens and helped the club to its first Stanley Cup championship in 1915-16. (HHOF Archives)
As a teenager, Edouard was working at the Cornwall Freeholder newspaper, where he earned the nickname that followed him throughout his life -- 'Newsy.'

Although he had started later than his peers, Newsy developed quickly, and by 1903, was playing junior with the Cornwall Victorias. From the 1905-06 season, where he played with a senior team in Woodstock, Ontario, Newsy began a journey that took him all over the hockey map. "I really started to get good and by the time I was eighteen, a couple of men asked me if I wanted to become a professional hockey player." That request was eagerly accepted, and in 1906-07, he joined the Canadian Soo Algonquins in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, earning $50 a week as a member of the International Hockey League, the first openly professional league. "I was given a pair of rugby pants, a shirt that was too long, some stockings that looked a dozen years old and skates that would fit an elephant." That same season, Lalonde was a member of the Cobalt Silver Kings of the Temiskaming Professional Hockey League (TPHL). In 1907-08, Newsy led the Ontario Professional Hockey League in scoring, with 32 goals scored for the Toronto Pros, but also played for the Portage Plains Cities of the Manitoba Hockey League and joined Haileybury for the TPHL playoffs. The next season, while scoring 29 goals for the Toronto Pros, he led the TPHL with 79 penalty minutes.

Lalonde's most productive offensive seasons came in 1919-20 and 1920-21 when the Cornwall, Ontario native tallied 37 and 32 goals respectively. (Turofsky/HHOF)
The hockey of that era was vastly different than the game we know today. The game was played with seven players per side — a centre, two wingers, a rover, two defencemen (called point and coverpoint) and a goaltender. Substitutions were rarely made, usually only following injuries. It was a rough and tumble game, with sticks often used equally for shooting and fencing. "One night, Joe Hall nearly crushed my windpipe and I came back and almost broke his collarbone," Newsy recalled.

In 1909-10, Newsy joined the Montreal Canadiens of the newly-formed National Hockey Association (NHA). On January 5, 1910, playing in the Jubilee Rink, a natural ice arena, Lalonde scored the first-ever goal for the Montreal Canadiens. In fact, he scored twice in that contest against the Cobalt Silver Kings before injuring his ankle and leaving the game, which Montreal won 7-6 in overtime. That season, he led the NHA in scoring with 16 goals through the six-game schedule. But the Canadiens didn't make the playoffs (they finished last in the seven-team league), and Lalonde was loaned to the Renfrew Creamery Kings (often referred to as the Millionaires) to help them attempt to win the Stanley Cup. Both teams, curiously, were owned by J. Ambrose O'Brien. On March 17, 1910, Newsy enjoyed the finest single game of his glorious career. "I scored 9 goals during a game in Renfrew. We were playing against Cobalt and beat them 17-2. I was playing centre at the time and Cyclone Taylor was rover." In spite of Renfrew's best efforts, the Montreal Wanderers captured the Stanley Cup that spring.

In 1926-27, Newsy laced up his skates and played in a single game with the New York Americans before he retired as a player. (Bill Galloway/HHOF)
Ambrose O'Brien sold the Montreal Canadiens to George Kennedy before the start of the next season, but claimed that Lalonde was not released by Renfrew to re-join Montreal. Kennedy was forced to begrudgingly pay $7,500 to O'Brien for the rights to Lalonde. His investment paid off, though. Lalonde scored 19 goals in 16 games for Montreal in 1910-11.

Following that season, Lalonde was traded to the Vancouver Millionaires of the newly-formed Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), and promptly led the league in scoring with 27 goals in 15 games. "As I got more experience, I got less and less nervous and really began to enjoy professional hockey," he told Fischler. "The money was good and I was able to make extra cash playing professional lacrosse. I played in Vancouver and got $6,000 for 12 (actually, 15) games."

Rejoining the Canadiens through a trade for Didier Pitre in 1912-13, Newsy would spend the next decade in Montreal. He scored 25 goals in 18 games during that season, adding 22 in 14 games in 1913-14. During that season, Lalonde, never a candidate for most gentlemanly player, was at his ornery best. During the 1914 Stanley Cup final against the Seattle Metropolitans, Newsy earned five penalties, including a game misconduct for butt-ending the referee.

Newsy returned to Montreal to coach the Canadiens, and remained behind the bench until 16 games into the 1934-35 season. (James Rice/HHOF)
During the 1914-15 season, Lalonde held out for a higher salary, but once returned to the line-up, suffered a season-ending injury. "We were playing the Wanderers," he recalled in 'Heroes and History'. "A fellow named Stram was on his knees and I fell right on his skates. When he stood up, he tore my arch to pieces and also ripped the whole side of my leg with his skates. It was the worst injury I ever got. They had to sew up the artery first, then the arch."

But Montreal's newly-anointed captain returned with a vengeance in 1915-16 and not only led the NHA with 28 goals through the 24-game season, but helped lead the Canadiens over the PCHA's Portland Rosebuds for the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship.

The National Hockey League was formed from the NHA in November 1917, and Lalonde and the Canadiens were one of the inaugural franchises in the new league. That season, Newsy scored 23 goals, but his team finished last. In fact, he scored in each of his first six NHL games, a record later matched by Cy Denneny, Joe Malone and Evgeni Malkin. Lalonde's finest seasons were 1919-20 when he fired 37 goals and 1920-21 when he collected 33. Clearly, Newsy Lalonde was the dominant goal scorer of the fledgling league.

In 1950 Newsy Lalonde was formally inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here Newsy (left) is welcomed by former NHL President Clarence Campbell (right). (Turofsky/HHOF)
During the spring of 1919, the Montreal Canadiens earned the right to challenge for the Stanley Cup against the PCHA's champion Seattle Metropolitans. The Canadiens took Games 2 and 5, Seattle won Games 1 and 3 while Game 4 was tied at zero when the game was called after the second overtime period when the ice was deemed unusable. After Game 5, however, several players on both sides came down with the Spanish influenza that had swept across the globe claiming thousands of lives. The Canadiens were especially hard hit. Louis Berlinquette, Billy Couture, Joe Hall, Jack McDonald and Newsy Lalonde were all too weak to continue playing. The series was abandoned — the only season, other than the locked-out 2005-05 season -- that the Stanley Cup was not awarded. Tragically, 'Bad Joe' Hall succumbed to his case of influenza.

In 1919-20 and 1920-21, Lalonde enjoyed his most productive seasons, scoring 37 and 32 goals respectively. Then, early in the 1921-22 season, the Canadiens were sold to Joseph Cattarinich, Leo Dandurand and Louis Letourneau. In a dispute with Dandurand, Lalonde walked off the team. Although he returned after four games, his production dropped off to 9 goals in 20 games. The disgruntled Dandurand felt he had wrung out as much hockey from the 36-year-old Lalonde as possible and traded him to the Saskatoon Sheiks for Aurel Joliat, who would star with the Canadiens through the 1930s. Lalonde, who at one time had been idolized in Montreal, had only played intermittently during his final season with the Canadiens. He balked at the trade, but the anger subsided somewhat when he was told he would make the same salary he had been paid with the Canadiens. Nevertheless, he never forgave the Canadiens' ownership, and frustrated that Joliat had quickly become a fan favourite, served up revenge by viciously crosschecking Joliat across the face.

At the old Hockey Hall of Fame at Exhibition Place, Lalonde comes across at a photo of himself from his playing days. (Turofsky/HHOF)
Lalonde spent four seasons as playing-coach of the Sheiks of the Western Canada Hockey League, leading the league with 30 goals in 1922-23, but tailed off, scoring 10, then 8 and none during his final season in Saskatoon. In 1926-27, he joined the New York Americans as head coach and played one game as a substitute before retiring as a player. The talented Lalonde finished his playing career as the greatest goal scorer of his era, scoring 345 times in 292 regular season games in the NHA/NHL.

After retiring, Lalonde continued coaching the Americans, later adding the Ottawa Senators to his resume. In 1932, Newsy returned to Montreal to coach the Canadiens, and remained behind the bench until 16 games into the 1934-35 season, when he was replaced.

Often forgotten is Newsy Lalonde's prowess as a lacrosse player. In 1950, he was selected as the best lacrosse player of the first half-century and entered the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965. In 1950, Lalonde was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. On November 21, 1970, Edouard 'Newsy' Lalonde died at the age of 83. In 1998, The Hockey News placed Newsy at number 32 on their list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players of All-Time.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.