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Jack Darragh
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1962
Jackdarragh.jpg
Born (1890-12-04)December 4, 1890
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Died June 28, 1924(1924-06-28) (aged 33)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 168 lb (76 kg; 12 st 0 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Left
Played for Ottawa Senators
Playing career 1910–1924

John Proctor Darragh (December 4, 1890 – June 28, 1924) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. Darragh played the forward position for the Ottawa Senators in the National Hockey League (NHL) and its predecessor the National Hockey Association (NHA). Darragh was a member of four Stanley Cup championship teams (1911, 1920, 1921, 1923) and a NHA championship team (1915).

Darragh was a spectacular player, innovator of the backhand, and a crafty stick-handler. He was the captain of the Senators during the 1914-15 season. He was second in the league in scoring in 1914-15.

He was a chicken farmer and was good friends with fellow NHLers (or future ones) Cy Denneny, Frank Nighbor, Percy Lesueur, Hamby Shore, Frank Frederickson, George McNamara, John “Bouse” Hutton among others.

As stated by once-coach Alf Smith, “I’ve never seen a player who could move the puck so well, let alone shoot and skate that well. And he’s been the first player to perfect the backhand. He’s going to be here [with the Senators] for a long time.”

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

He was an older brother of NHL player Harold Darragh.

Playing career

Jack Darragh made a meteoric jump directly from the amateur ranks to professional hockey, without any schooling in the junior game, going from playing with all of Ottawa Stewartons (OCSHL), Fort Coulonge (Pontiac Hockey League) and Ottawa Cliffsides (IPAHU) in three different amateur leagues in 1909–10, to earn a place with the Ottawa Senators of the NHA at the beginning of the 1910–11 campaign when Horace Gaul got injured against the Montreal Canadiens.

1912 Eastern All Stars
Darragh, sitting second from the right, with the 1912 NHA All-Stars.

Darragh was signed to his first professional contract by then Ottawa Senators manager Pete Green, at the restaurant Uwanta Lunch at Sparks Street in Ottawa, to the modest amount of $15 per week. He soon established himself as an important piece of the team and during the 1914–15 season he was chosen team captain, a role that Horace Merrill took over the following year in 1915–16.

Darragh played his entire professional career with the Ottawa Senators. He was a big part of their success, winning four Stanley Cups; in 1911, 1920, 1921 and 1923. Darragh's skillset included a particular penchant for clutch scoring; he potted all three game-winning goals against the Seattle Metropolitans in 1920, and in the 1921 Stanley Cup Finals against Vancouver Millionaires, he scored both goals in a 2–1 deciding game victory.

He retired after the 1921 Stanley Cup win, but returned after one season to play for the Stanley Cup-winning team of 1922–23, the third in four seasons, all with Darragh in the lineup.

During his last NHL season in 1923–24 Darragh suffered a broken right knee cap after having collided with Edmond Bouchard of the Hamilton Tigers in a game at the Ottawa Auditorium, which held him off the ice for parts of the season.

Darragh retired for a second time after the 1923–24 season and died a few months later due to peritonitis, which was the result of a ruptured appendix. He was survived by his wife Elizabeth and his three daughters Aileen, Frances and Marion. Darragh was the third player from the 1911 Stanley Cup winning Ottawa Senators team that had died within less than 10 years, following Marty Walsh (tuberculosis 1915) and Hamby Shore (influenza 1918), and he was followed by Bruce Ridpath who died in 1925 after having suffered a stroke.

Jack Darragh’s talents on ice were much better then typical fans would know. He definitely wasn’t the best one his team— normally called the sixth best on the star-studded roster— but was one of the most important. He was a debonair forward, often accredited for his on-ice strengths and off-ice flair. He may not be a household name like Sidney Crosby or Maurice Richard, but he was the perfector of the backhand long before they were born.

He was famous for his off-ice disputes— in fact, he and teammate Hamby Shore had the first contract dispute in NHL history. On the opening night of the NHL the two players were late for their first game, which they lost to the Montreal Canadiens. It was the first contract holdout in the history of the NHL.

Playing style

Although without any background in organized junior hockey, Jack Darragh was a good skater and had speed to burn to go along with much grit and determination, playing a fast and strong game on the forward line. While considered a clean and gentlemanly player, Darragh still carried a fair amount of pluck to his game, and during the 1913–14 NHA season he led the Ottawa Senators with 69 penalty minutes. A right winger position wise, Darragh had good chemistry on the Ottawa Senators forward line with centre forward Frank Nighbor, and the two players developed a system of team play between each other over the years that carried the Senators to many victories. At the onset of his hockey career, up until 1911, Darragh played as a rover, the more free-roaming position between defence and the forward line, but when the NHA abandoned the seven-man game prior to the 1911–12 season and the rover was taken out of the game, he switched to right wing instead. He also occasionally played on the left wing.

Jack Darragh, Ottawa Cliffsides
Darragh while with the Ottawa Cliffsides.

The June 30, 1924 obituary in the Ottawa Citizen mentioned, as pointed out by officers of the Ottawa Senators, that Darragh was a "model athlete" who never smoked or tasted liquor in any form, and that he "trained assiduously both in and out of the hockey seasons and always kept himself in perfect condition." According to the newspaper Darragh was a "beautiful specimen of an athlete and his weight, coupled with terrific speed and magnificent stickhandling, made him a terror to opposing teams."

With his good physique and strong conditioning Darragh could play at a high level throughout the entirety of the games, which made him a strong third period threat with a penchant for clutch scoring. One such instance happened in the 1920 Stanley Cup Finals against the Seattle Metropolitans where the fifth and deciding game between the two teams stood at 1-1 after two periods. But in the third period Darragh and his teammates on the Ottawa forward line skated the Metropolitans off their feet and scored five goals for a 6-1 victory, with Darragh himself recording a hat-trick.

In his younger days Darragh had been a lacrosse player of great promise, playing with the Ottawa Stars lacrosse team, before throwing himself in with the game of hockey. He was also into distance running, and he also held down a place on the baseball team of his employer at the Ottawa Dairy Company. At his residence on Java Avenue in Ottawa, just prior to his death, he had also built an adjoining clay tennis court to train on.

Career statistics

Ottawa Hockey Team, NH Association World Champions and Stanley Cup Holders, 1911 (HS85-10-23753)
1911 Ottawa Senators with the Stanley Cup. Back row, from left: Alex Currie, Hamby Shore, Jack Darragh, Bruce Stuart. Front row, from left: Marty Walsh, Bruce Ridpath, Percy LeSueur, Fred Lake, Albert Kerr.
    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1909–10 Fort Coulonge PontHL
1909–10 Ottawa Stewartons OCHL 5 11 0 11 11 1 0 0 0 3
1909–10 Ottawa Cliffsides IPAHU 3 4 0 4 0
1909–10 Ottawa Cliffsides Allan Cup 1 0 0 0 0
1910–11 Ottawa Stewartons OCHL 3 7 0 7 0
1910–11 Ottawa Senators NHA 16 18 0 18 36
1910–11* Ottawa Senators St-Cup 2 0 0 0 6
1911–12 Ottawa Senators NHA 17 15 0 15 10
1911–12 NHA All-Stars Exh. 3 4 0 4 8
1912–13 Ottawa Senators NHA 20 15 0 15 16
1913–14 Ottawa Senators NHA 20 23 5 28 69
1914–15 Ottawa Senators NHA 18 11 2 13 32 5 4 0 4 9
1915–16 Ottawa Senators NHA 21 16 5 21 41
1916–17 Ottawa Senators NHA 20 24 4 28 17 2 2 0 2 3
1917–18 Ottawa Senators NHL 18 14 5 19 26
1918–19 Ottawa Senators NHL 14 11 3 14 33 5 2 0 2 3
1919–20 Ottawa Senators NHL 23 22 14 36 22
1919–20* Ottawa Senators St-Cup 5 5 2 7 3
1920–21 Ottawa Senators NHL 24 11 15 26 20 2 0 0 0 2
1920–21* Ottawa Senators St-Cup 5 5 0 5 12
1921–22 Did not play
1922–23* Ottawa Senators NHL 24 6 9 15 10 2 1 0 1 2
1923–24 Ottawa Senators NHL 18 2 0 2 2 2 0 0 0 2
NHA totals 132 122 16 138 221 7 6 0 6 12
NHL totals 121 66 46 112 113 11 3 0 3 9
St-Cup totals 12 10 2 12 21

* Stanley Cup Champion.

Awards and achievements

See also

  • List of ice hockey players who died during their playing career
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