Rat Westwick

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Rat Westwick
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1963[1]
Harry Westwick.jpg
Born (1876-04-23)April 23, 1876
Ottawa, ON, CAN
Died April 3, 1957(1957-04-03) (aged 80)
Ottawa, ON, CAN
Position Rover
team Ottawa Hockey Club
Playing career 1894–1909

Harry "Rat" Westwick (April 23, 1876 – April 3, 1957) was a Canadian athlete in ice hockey and lacrosse. Westwick, nicknamed the Rat by a journalist, is most noted for his play with the Ottawa Hockey Club, nicknamed the Silver Seven during his day which won and defended the Stanley Cup from 1903 until 1906. He was a member of the Ottawa Capitals lacrosse team from 1896 until 1904, winning three championships.[2] His brother Tom was also a professional ice hockey player.

Personal life[edit]

Westwick, who played during a period when hockey players received little or no money, also worked as a book binder for various companies, and later, the Canadian government printing bureau.[3] He enlisted in the Army in 1914 during World War I. When he married his wife Ruby Duval (sister of former Ottawa team mate Peg Duval) in February 1903, he combined his honeymoon with a team trip to Montreal. During the game, he suffered a broken ankle and watched the rest of the game from an arena seat with his bride.[3] Ruby and Harry had six children: Bill, Thomas, Barberry, Elaine, Ula and Beatrice.[4] His son Bill became the sports editor of the Ottawa Journal.[5] Westwick died at home in Ottawa on April 3, 1957.[2]

Playing career[edit]

Rat Westwick, second from right in the second row from the top, with the Ottawa Hockey Club in 1901.

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Westwick played hockey for Ottawa teams, joining the intermediate Ottawa Aberdeens of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC) in 1893. He moved up to the senior-level Ottawa Hockey Club the next season. At the time, Ottawa had lost its goaltender Albert Morel and Westwick played several games as goaltender before moving up to rover on the advice of a coach who saw his fast skating ability. During the summer, Westwick would play for the Ottawa Capitals in lacrosse. The Capitals, ostensibly an amateur team, were discovered to be paying players in 1896 and Westwick was suspended from ice hockey play. Westwick would deny receiving any money and he was reinstated by Ottawa in 1898, only to be suspended again in 1898 by the Canadian Amateur Athletic Union. In 1899, Westwick moved out of town to find work in Waterloo, Ontario but returned to Ottawa in time to play some games for the Capitals ice hockey team, by then playing in Ontario Hockey Association (OHA).[6]

In 1900–01, Westwick returned to the Ottawa Hockey Club, and he played for the club until 1908, and was a member of the four-time Stanley Cup winning squad later dubbed the Silver Seven for receiving silver nuggets for their 1903 Stanley Cup win. Westwick's best season was in 1905, when he scored 15 goals in eight regular season games, and 5 goals in the Dawson City challenge series. In 1906–07, his brother Tom joined the Ottawa squad, starting one game. By 1909, Westwick's skating ability had been reduced by a series of ankle injuries and he did not make the 1909 Ottawa squad. He played the season for the Ottawa Senators of the Federal League, a professional team which had several former Silver Seven players. It was his last season.

On one occasion, after ice hockey had become professional in 1906, Westwick played for a team other than Ottawa. He joined the Stanley Cup champion Kenora Thistles in 1907 after the Ottawa's 1907 season was complete. He played the final games of the Thistles' season and played in the Thistles defense of its Stanley Cup win against the Montreal Wanderers, at the time, the arch-rival of Ottawa. While the Thistles defended their Cup win in Manitoba play with Westwick, his appearance with the Thistles caused the challenge series with the Wanderers to be protested by the Wanderers and a cancellation was threatened by the Stanley Cup trustees. The series, held in Winnipeg, was beyond the reach of the trustees, and went ahead. The Wanderers won the series, making the protest moot. The following year, the trustees implemented the January 1 rule, where only players on a team as of January 1 of the season were eligible for Stanley Cup play. Westwick remained involved in hockey, becoming a referee in the National Hockey Association (NHL)[4] after retiring from active play. In 1915–16, at a time when many players were off fighting in World War I, Westwick helped out Ottawa in a comeback role, playing three games, although he did not score any goals.

His nickname 'Rat' was from a Quebec City journalist, who in 1896 called Westwick a "miserable, insignificant rat.'[6] Westwick's scrappiness led opponents to resort to aggressive (and somewhat violent) tactics in order to derail his tenacious playing style. His ankle injuries necessitated the amputation of his left leg above the knee[7] in 1949.[2] Westwick was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963.[1]

Harry Westwick, leftmost player in back row, as a member of the 1905 Ottawa Silver Sevens.

Awards and honours[edit]

  • Stanley Cup winner (4 times - 1903–1906)
  • FAHL Second All-Star Team (1905)[8]
  • First all-star team (1906)
  • National Lacrosse Union all-star (1902)
  • Lacrosse world titles (3 times)
  • Hockey Hall of Fame member, 1962
  • Ottawa Hall of Fame member

Source: Hockey Hall of Fame, Who's Who in Canadian Sport.[4]

References[edit]

  • Ferguson, Bob (2005). Who's Who in Canadian Sport. Fitzhenry and Whiteside Ltd. ISBN 1-55041-855-6. 
  • Hockey Hall of Fame (2003). Honoured Members: Hockey Hall of Fame. Bolton, Ontario: Fenn Publishing. ISBN 1-55168-239-7. 
  • Kitchen, Paul (2008). Win, Tie or Wrangle. Manotick, Ontario: Penumbra Press. ISBN 978-1-897323-46-5. 
Notes
  1. ^ a b Hockey Hall of Fame 2003, p. 59.
  2. ^ a b c Canadian Press (April 4, 1957). "Silver Seven's Mighty Mite Dead at 81". The Toronto Star. p. 26. 
  3. ^ a b Kitchen(2008), p. 102
  4. ^ a b c Ferguson 2005, p. 471.
  5. ^ "Old Hockey, Lacrosse Great Harry Westwick Dies at 81". Montreal Gazette. April 4, 1957. p. 29. 
  6. ^ a b Kitchen 2008, p. 102.
  7. ^ Kitchen 2008, p. 103.
  8. ^ Hockey Hall of Fame biography

External links[edit]