Thursday, January 7, 2016

Was Bill Shvetz' Only NHL Game Missed in the Official Records?


Bill Shvetz was a career minor league defenceman who's nickname was 'The Destroyer'. He played nearly 1,000 professional games in the Western, Quebec and American Hockey Leagues, and according to the official records he never played an NHL game. Recently however, a post on a hockey chat forum raised the question of whether he may have actually played a game. A mention was made of a Montreal Gazette article about the opening game of the 1954/55 NHL season when Chicago visited Montreal.
In an addendum to the article about Montreal's 4-2 season-opening win in the Gazette, there was one line that stated,"Bill Shvetz made only one appearance for the Hawks and nearly scored. His shot hit the post." (see below from the Oct 7, 1954 Montreal Gazette).

In addition, sports columnist 'Dink' Carroll made mention of Shvetz playing when he was promptly traded two days later. 
One more mention of Shvetz in the October 7 opener is the boxscore from the Chicago Tribune the following day (below). He is clearly in the lineup, but did not collect an official statistic. Did he play that one shift or not?
One issue with verifying if Shvetz did play or not is the fact there is very little mention of him, especially when one may expect it. Below is a Chicago Tribune clip from the day of the game, it mentions the large influx of rookies into the Black Hawks lineup but makes no mention of Bill Shvetz. He had been selected in June 1954 by Chicago in the inter-league draft from Calgary of the Western League. He was only 24 at the time but like many others in the six-team NHL had not gotten his chance at the big time yet. 
Chicago defender, Gus Mortson appears to have been a late scratch for this first game of the season and in fact played 65 of the 70 games that season. Is it possible that Shvetz was a late fill-in for Mortson and managed to get on the ice for at least one post-hitting shift? If Dink Carroll says he did, I'd like to believe him.
Oct 7, 1954 Tribune
Either way, Shvetz' time in the Hawks organization was short-lived as he was traded to Montreal on October 9 for the rights to Dick Gamble. 
Oct 11 1954 Gazette
Shvetz, playing for the Montreal Royals of the Quebec league and playing some Left Wing in addition to Defence, scored 20 goals in 1954/55. He also led the circuit in PIMs with 161. The following year the rights to both Gamble and Shvetz reverted to their original teams and Shvetz went back to Calgary. He played twelve more seasons in the Western and American leagues never again getting a sniff of the NHL. 

3 comments:

Unknown said...

Interesting to read. I am Bill's daughter-in-law, Susan Shvetz, Bill's wife would have further information and could verify things for you. Bill passed away a few years ago.

Unknown said...

Interesting to read. I am Bill's daughter-in-law, Susan Shvetz, Bill's wife would have further information and could verify things for you. Bill passed away a few years ago.

Nitzy said...

That would be amazing.If he did indeed play in that one NHL game, he should rightly be included in the official records. Perhaps you can ask her if she remembers anything about him playing a game in the Montreal Forum in October 1954.

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