Monday, May 2, 2011

Godfrey Matheson, Not Your Coach of the Year

Some of Coach Bombay's tactics might have been borrowed from Godfrey Matheson
Frederic McLaughlin was the Chicago Blackhawks first president and eventually became their majority owner. In his first 10 years as owner, he hired and fired 11 coaches. The worst of those was Godfrey Matheson.

McLaughlin met Godfrey Matheson in 1932, while traveling on a train from Minneapolis to Chicago. The two started talking and McLaughlin discovered that Matheson was from Winnipeg - the hometown of Chicago's star goalie Charlie Gardiner. On this train ride they got along very well and McLaughlin was impressed with Matheson's hockey knowledge. Despite Matheson not having any coaching experience or being able to skate, McLaughlin would remember his name if a position ever came up.

After an 8-7-6 start by Emil Iverson, Matheson was hired as the Hawks' interim head coach. He must have looked pretty goofy showing up to practice with elbow pads over street clothes, two buckets of pucks and no skates. He should have worn a helmet too, as he would be hit with a stick and knocked out having to be carried off ice on a stretcher.

The innovative Matheson replaced Gardiner in net with a stuffed dummy for practice in order to avoid injury to the his star goaltender. He also attempted an innovated coaching style using a whistle system. One whistle meant that player should shoot the puck, two whistles and the players were supposed to check their opponent. These practices would have been funny to watch with lots of player confusion and Charlie Gardiner sitting on the bench.

Godfrey Matheson had a unique vision of NHL offence. He had his small quick forwards throwing themselves at opposition defenders while dropping the puck to their defenceman. The theory was they would clear the way for the defencemen to have a clear shot at the net. Unfortunately, while the tiny forward was getting Chris Pronger'd into the ice, the unskilled Chicago defencemen were usually losing the puck and not getting shots off.

Matheson lasted two whole games, with the Blackhawks losing them both. Matheson was replaced by Tommy Gorman - who would lead Chicago to their first Stanley Cup victory in the 1933-34 season.

Godfrey Matheson is a perfect example of why you shouldn't hire a guy you just met on a train to coach your professional hockey team.


  1. Crazy story
    Had no idea that happened.

  2. haha love that he got knocked out! what a goof! a coach that can't even practice with the team!

  3. so did he have a whistle on the bench during games? as if teams wouldn't catch on?

  4. oh the good old days

  5. Would have loved to have seen one of his practices. And I thought my old house league coach was brutal. Wow.

  6. I found you guys on Stumble and have been catching up on all your great posts.

    Thanks for helping me kill time at work.


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