Dave “Sweeney” Schriner

Dave “Sweeney” Schriner was the third Russian to ever play in the NHL and the first to be a star player. Just a month after being born in Russia, Shriner’s family moved to Calgary, giving him an essentially completely Canadian upbringing. Schriner loved playing a variety of sports as he grew up, but he loved hockey the most, and spent much of his time on frozen ponds and playing with minor hockey teams in Calgary. After a strong year with the Syracuse Stars of the IHL, Schriner was picked up by the New York Americans in time for the 1934-35 season.

The 23-year old has an impressive rookie campaign, finishing with 18 goals and 22 assists for 40 points, behind only Art Chapman on the Americans. Schriner took home Rookie of the Year honours (the Calder trophy would be instated a few years later). Schriner only improved after that, leading the league in his sophomore season with 45 points in 48 games. He finished third in Hart voting and due to his 6 PIM, also 2nd in Lady Byng voting. Schriner was also voted to the First All-Star Team. The Americans had a poor team, but still managed to make it to the Stanley Cup semi-finals before losing to the Leafs.

In time for the 1936-37 seasons, Schriner was third captain in team history and did well with the added pressure. Schriner again led the NHL in points, this time with 46 points in 48 games, including 21 goals. The following season, Schriner led the Americans to the last playoff series victory they would ever have in the 1938 playoffs, beating the Rangers 2-1 in a best-of-three, but falling in the semi-finals. The following year, Schriner would finish 2nd in NHL scoring with 44 points and an impressive career best of 31 assists.

In May of 1939, Schriner was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a group of five players, and the second chapter of his career began. The Maple Leafs were a much more prominent team than the Americans, but that also mean that Schriner has less opportunities to carry the team on his back. Schriner had a strong 1940-41 season, tying Roy Conacher for 2nd in the NHL in goals with 24 in 48 games and being placed on the First All-Star Team for the second time in his career. Schriner also played a key part in Toronto’s legendary reverse sweep in the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals and won the first Stanley Cup of his career.

In the 1942-43 season, despite missing 13 games, Schriner still finished 20th in goal scoring with 19 goals in 37 games. Schriner took the 1943-44 season off due to nagging injuries and a contract dispute with Manager Conn Smythe. Schriner came back and dominated the NHL with 22 goals and 37 points in a measly 26 games, a points-per-game level only topped by two others much younger than Schriner that season, Elmer Lach and Maurice Richard. Schriner topped off the season with the second Stanley Cup of his career. Schriner slowed down a lot in the 1945-46 season and decided to retire from NHL hockey at the age of 34. Schriner would remain in amateur hockey leagues until 1949 when he fully retired at the age of 37.

Schriner was the last Russian the NHL would see until 1982, marking a significant break and absence of Russians in the NHL. As such, Schriner was the all-time Russian NHL point leader for 48 years until both Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov passed him in the 1994-95 season. Schriner was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

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