Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Connie" Cobb

I just picked up this card on the weekend (I paid handsomely for it) of all-time great Cornelius Irving Cobb. "Connie" Cobb was an innovator of the game of ice hockey. Paired alongside Cyclone Taylor on the Portage Lake club in Houghton, Michigan, he was the first player to perfect the give-and-go spinorama maneuvre.

Born in Hagersville, Ontario in 1879, he was the middle of nine children. He would star for fourteen seasons playing with teams from Renfrew and Pembroke to Mackinaw and Kenora. Along the way he played mentor and team mate to the likes of Taylor, Didier Pitre, Newsy Lalonde and Reg Noble. Cobb was not only speedy and shifty, he was also a moose on blades. In an era when a player 5 foot, 10 inches in height was considered tall, Cobb stood a full four inches clear of six feet and weighed in excess of 220 pounds. He was Eric Lindros of the early 1900's.

His strength was so great that he is reputed to have displayed it once in a most unusual way. Apparently, deep into the cold December of 1909, the Renfrew Creamery Kings were travelling the rails on the way to Haileybury for a league match. As the train rounded a slow bend, the engineer was able to bring it to a halt when he saw a mound on the track up ahead. The jolt of the stopping train rustled it's groggy passengers from a late night slumber. First on the scene at the front of the train was Connie Cobb.

To the dismay of all, a lost heifer had decided to take refuge on the rails in the path of the soon to be late Creamery Kings. After about twenty minutes of trying to shoo the sleeping bovine, Cobb decided to take matters into his own hands...literally. The behemoth hockey star knelt beside the stubborn cow and managed to get his bulky arms underneath. Like a giant sack of grain, he slung the old milk maiden over his shoulder. As he shuffled down the slight incline from the railbed and placed the cow into the shrubbery, a great cheer went out from all who witnessed. The Creamery Kings were on their way and not a moment too soon. They arrived ten minutes before game time and wound up beating Haileybury 7-5 with Cobb netting four goals.

Truly one of the greats of all time, Cobb was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945 alongside the likes of Georges Vezina, Frank McGee and Howie Morenz.

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