From the 1930s to the 1960s, skilled offensive defensemen were extremely rare to find, as most defenders focused on the defensive aspect of their role. Flash Hollett was not your standard defensive defenseman. Born in Nova Scotia, but raised in Toronto. Hollett was also a skilled lacrosse player and caught the attention of the Maple Leafs GM, Conn Smythe. Smythe signed Hollett and Hollett split the 1933-34 season between the Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators, to whom Hollett has been loaned.
While Hollett put up respectable numbers for a 21-year old, the Maple Leafs were a stacked team in the early and mid 30s and there wasn’t much room for a new young kid. Hollett was sold to the Bruins in the 1935-36 season, despite a strong 1934-35 season. It would take a few years for Hollett to become anything more than a shadow on the Bruins, but when he finally broke out, boy did he shine. Hollett’s 1938-39 season featured a break through for Hollett, seeing him score 10 goals and 27 points, good for first among all defensemen in the NHL. Hollett topped that season off with a satisfying Stanley Cup victory of his former team, Toronto.
Hollett became a mainstay on the Bruins blue line for the years following that season. Hollett tied Dit Clapper‘s stats in goals (10), assists (18), and points (28) in 44 games. Hollett helped the Bruins capture another Cup in 1941 and finished third in points among defensemen that year. Hollett exploded for a stunning 19 goals in the 1941-42 season, more than doubling the next most goals for a defenseman. Hollett had a rushing style that was uncommon in his era and hadn’t been seen since the late 20s and early 30s. Hollet’s 19 goals were an NHL record for defensemen, surpassing Harry Cameron‘s 18 goals of the early 20s. Hollett again scored 19 goals in the 1942-43 season, but this time with 25 more assists, making 44 points in 50 games. Hollett again led the way for defensemen in goals and points. Hollett’s efforts finally earned some recognition as he was voted onto the Second All-Star Team.
Hollett was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in the midst of the 1943-44 season, but that didn’t stop his goal-scoring ways. Hollett tied for 2nd in goals among defensemen with 15 and uniquely, set an NHL record with 52 games, getting two extra due to the trade and scheduling differences. The following season, Hollett broke his goal record again, but was overshadowed by Maurice Richard‘s season. Hollett scored 20 goals, becoming the first defenseman to eclipse the 20-goal mark. He also tied Babe Pratt for first in points with 41 points, doing it in a full 50-game season. Hollett’s season got him First All-Star Team honours and 4th in Hart Trophy voting.
Hollett’s 1945-46 season was underwhelming and when contract issues came up, Hollett decided to leave the NHL to respect his wife’s wishes to remain near home. Hollett would spend several years in the OHA before finally retiring from hockey in 1950 at the age of 37 after winning the Allan Cup with the Toronto Malboros in his last season. Hollett retired as the all-time point leader among defenseman in NHL history, lasting for nine seasons before Red Kelly passed him in 1955. Unlike many of his fellow greats, Hollett has never been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.