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Jack Stewart
Black jack stewart.jpg
Born May 6, 1917(1917-05-06)
Pilot Mound, Manitoba, Canada
Died May 25, 1983(1983-05-25) (aged 66)
Troy, Michigan
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shoots Left
Played for Detroit Red Wings
Chicago Black Hawks
Playing career 1937–1953
Hall of Fame, 1964

Jack Stewart (also known by his nickname "Black Jack") (born John Sherratt Stewart on May 6, 1917) was a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman who played 12 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons for the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Black Hawks.

He won two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings and was named to the post-season NHL All-Star Team on five occasions: three times on the first team and twice on the second. Stewart also played in the first four NHL All-Star Games. After completing his NHL career as captain of the Black Hawks, he went on to coach numerous teams at various levels of hockey.

Jack was regarded as the hardest hitting defenceman of his time, a reputation that earned him his nickname "Black Jack".

His style of play routinely resulted in injuries and scars; he defied expectations by returning to the game after suffering a ruptured disc in his back and later a fractured skull.

Jack was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1964 and is also honored by the Manitoba Hockey and Sports Halls of Fame.

Playing CareerEdit

Jack played junior hockey with the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in 1935–36 and 1936–37, where he was discovered by a Winnipeg businessman who suggested that James Norris, owner of the Detroit Red Wings, sign him.

He was sent to play his first season of professional hockey for the team's minor league affiliate, the Pittsburgh Hornets of the International-American Hockey League (IAHL). He recorded one assist in 48 games in the 1937–38 season.

Partway through his second season with the Hornets, the Red Wings recalled Jack as part of a bid to shake up their team which had been struggling. He appeared in 32 games in his NHL rookie season of 1938–39 and immediately established himself as a physical presence. He played in all 48 games for Detroit in 1939–40; his lone goal on the campaign was the first of his career.

Jack and the Red Wings reached the Stanley Cup final in both 1941 and 1942, but lost to the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. In his fifth season, 1942–43, Stewart was named to the NHL First All-Star Team on defence and helped lead the Red Wings to the NHL regular season title.

Reaching the final for the third consecutive season, Detroit defeated Boston to win the Stanley Cup. Stewart scored one goal, added two assists and had 35 penalty minutes in ten playoff games.

Stewart's NHL career was interrupted by the Second World War in 1943. He remained in Canada, serving as a Leading Aircraftman in the Royal Canadian Air Force and playing hockey for the Montreal RCAF and Winnipeg RCAF teams between 1943 and 1945.

Upon his return to the NHL, Jack was paired up with Bill Quackenbush on the Red Wings defence. He went on to earn four additional all-star selections: he was named to the second team in 1945–46 and 1946–47, and to the first team again in 1947–48 and 1948–49. Additionally, he played in the first four NHL All-Star Games (held between 1947 and 1950).

Not known for his offence, Jack never scored more than five goals in a season, and his career high of 19 points was set in 1947–48. He won his second Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 1950 as they defeated the New York Rangers in double overtime of the deciding seventh game.

Following the championship, the Red Wings traded Jack to the Chicago Black Hawks as part of a nine-player trade that was (at the time) the largest in NHL history. Jack, Harry Lumley, Al Dewsbury, Pete Babando & Don Morrison were sent to Chicago in exchange for Metro Prystai, Bob Goldham, Gaye Stewart & Jim Henry. The Black Hawks named Stewart team captain and assistant coach almost immediately.

Jack missed the majority of the 1950–51 NHL season and his career was believed over after he suffered a serious spinal injury in a December 14, 1950 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Doctors diagnosed Jack's injury as a ruptured disc and urged him to retire. He was told following the injury that he was lucky he could still walk without a cane and not to risk further damage on the ice.

Instead, Jack had the disc removed and after completing what Black Hawks' team doctors described as a "most remarkable" recovery, he opted to continue his career and signed with Chicago for the 1951–52 season.

Early in the season, Jack suffered a minor skull fracture after colliding with teammate Clare Martin, an injury that forced him out of the lineup for several weeks. He spent two weeks in hospital after which he announced his retirement, but he again shocked observers by returning to the ice.

However by mid February 1952, his injuries led Jack to ask the Black Hawks for his release so that he could seek a minor league coaching position.

Career StatisticsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1935–36 Portage Terriers MJHL 16000660114
1936–37 Portage Terriers MJHL 164152041122
1937–38Pittsburgh HornetsIAHL480111620000
1938–39Pittsburgh HornetsIAHL2100020
1938–39Detroit Red WingsNHL3201118
1939–40Detroit Red WingsNHL481014050000
1940–41Detroit Red WingsNHL472685691238
1941–42Detroit Red WingsNHL444711931201112
1942–43Detroit Red WingsNHL442911681012335
1943–44 Montreal RCAF MNDHL 735818
1944–45 Winnipeg RCAF WNDHL 20112
1945–46Detroit Red WingsNHL474111573500014
1946–47Detroit Red WingsNHL55591483501112
1947–48Detroit Red WingsNHL60514199191346
1948–49Detroit Red WingsNHL6041115961111232
1949–50Detroit Red WingsNHL6531114861414520
1950–51Chicago Black HawksNHL2602249
1951–52Chicago Black HawksNHL3713412
1952–53 Chatham Maroons OHA Sr. 4522729134
1953–54 Chatham Maroons OHA Sr. 210883560008
NHL totals 565 31 84 115 765 80 5 14 19 139

Coaching CareerEdit

Jack was considered as coach of the New Westminster Royals of the Pacific Coast Hockey League, but chose to take the reins of the senior A Chatham Maroons in the Ontario Hockey Association.

He served as a player-coach, appearing in 45 games for the Maroons in 1952–53 where he scored two goals and 29 points while accumulating 129 penalty minutes. He also played the final games of his career in 1953–54, finishing with eight assists in 21 games.

The following seasons saw Jack move between several teams as the head coach. He left the Maroons to guide the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen in 1955–56, then the Windsor Bulldogs for two seasons between 1957 and 1959.

At one point in 1957, Jack was rumored to become the next coach of the Chicago Black Hawks, a job that went instead to Rudy Pilous. He moved into the professional ranks in 1961, taking over as the coach of Chicago's Eastern Professional Hockey League affiliate, the Sault Thunderbirds.

A year later, Jack moved to the Pittsburgh Hornets, an American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. After winning only 16 games in 1962–63, he retired after he was dismissed by the Hornets.

Playing StyleEdit

During his career, Jack was regarded as one of the hardest bodycheckers in the NHL. He also carried the heaviest stick in the league, explaining that "I don't use it for scoring. I use it for breaking arms". He was known for his large grin when hitting opponents; teammate Ted Lindsay noted, "when he had that smile, it was time for the opposition to look out".

He led the league with 73 penalty minutes in 1945–46, and in the late 1940s, his rivalry with Milt Schmidt of the Boston Bruins was so intense that their physical interactions occasionally overshadowed the games themselves.

Jack dispised his nickname of "Black Jack", as he believed it made him out to be a dirty player. Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman King Clancy agreed he was not dirty, but stated he was the "roughest son of a gun you'd ever want to meet."

Jack's style of play resulted in numerous injuries; he had dozens of scars and required over 200 stitches to close various cuts during his career. At one point, he played a full season with a broken hand.

On the ice, Jack showed good judgment as a defenceman and rarely took himself out of position to throw a hit. His coach in Detroit Jack Adams called him "one of the best blueliners in the game" and claimed he was the best defenceman in Red Wings history.

Regarded as a good skater, Jack was able to clear the puck out of his zone and rarely turned it over to the other team. Clare Martin said he was a "defensive defenceman" and that he "didn't carry the puck too much ... His job was defence and everybody in the league knew it."

AccoladesEdit

A charter member of the Detroit Red Wings Hall of Fame in 1944, Jack was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1964.

He is also an honoured member of the Michigan Sports, Manitoba Hockey and Sports Halls of Fame. He was named to the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame's First All-Century Team in 2000.

National Hockey League
Award Year
First Team All-Star 1942-43
1947–48
1948-49
Second Team All-Star 1945-46
1946–47
Played in the NHL All-Star Game 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950

Personal Life\DeathEdit

Jack was born in Pilot Mound, Manitoba, where he learned to play hockey on the community's outdoor rinks. He had three sisters. In the off-seasons, he returned to his family farm, work which was said to have given him the strength that he displayed in the NHL.

An avid sportsman, Jack was an active curler during his playing career and played softball in the summer. Even though he was regarded on the ice as one of toughest players in the game, he was also quiet. He was known as "Silent Jack" by his teammates, allowing his actions to speak for him.

After leaving hockey in 1963, Jack focused on a career in harness racing. His father built a track on the family farm and held a horse racing meet each year to entertain the residents of Pilot Mound. Jack also followed and assisted his father when the elder Stewart acted as a race judge at fairs held in Manitoba.

Jack was actively involved in the sport from the time he retired as a player. He worked as a race timer and held various judging roles during the summers. He was a judge with the Ontario Racing Commission for nearly 30 years where his reputation matched that of his playing days.

Jack retired to Florida, but he returned to Michigan to undergo treatment for cancer. He died on May 6, 1983, at his home in Troy, Michigan following a lengthy battle with the disease. A widower, he was survived by his two children, son Barclay and daughter Jaqueline.