Jack "Black Jack" Stewart was the complete package on defense during his dozen years in the NHL. One of the most punishing bodycheckers of his day, Stewart was able to rush with the puck when the need arose. His rock-solid play contributed to Detroit's Stanley Cup wins in 1943 and 1950, and his willingness to resort to a rough style of play when necessary gave him a reputation as one of the game's bad boys.
In the amateur hockey ranks, he excelled with the Portage Terriers in his native Manitoba. Stewart received his break when Winnipeg businessman Gene Houghton recommended him to his friend, Detroit owner James Norris Sr. The Red Wings sent Stewart to the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL for a year of seasoning. Halfway through the 1938-39 schedule he joined the parent club and began stepping into opposing forwards with the confidence of a veteran.
Stewart helped the Wings capture the regular-season title and the Stanley Cup in 1943 while earning his initial selection to the NHL First All-Star Team. A devastating hitter, Stewart was at his best in the hardest-fought games. Stewart was also admired for his defensive poise. He rarely miscued in his own zone or neglected his position to take a run at an opposing player.
A solid work ethic and excellent stamina were also major features of the rugged defender's game. He was a wiry 185 pounds but extremely powerful. Stewart spent his younger days and off-seasons as a pro on the family wheat farm in Pilot Mound, Manitoba. During World War II, he spent a year with the Montreal RCAF and afterward with the Winnipeg detachment. After the war he returned to Detroit and was teamed successfully with Bill Quackenbush on defense. As a unit the two made life difficult for the opposition, but in different ways. Stewart used brute force and strength to nullify opposing forwards while his partner used positioning and subtle clutching and grabbing to defend the goal.
Stewart was placed on the NHL First All-Star Team in both 1948 and 1949. During this period he waged a legendary battle with Boston forward Milt Schmidt. The two would often exchange devastating but clean open-ice hits against one another that at times gained more attention than the score of the game.
The Wings won the Cup again in 1950, then Stewart was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks. He played his last two seasons in the Windy City before leaving the NHL.