Earl Seibert

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Earl Seibert was one of the more consistent defensemen in the NHL. Born in 1911, Seibert began his pro hockey career in the Can-Am league, where he suffered a severe concussion. As a result, Seibert would wear a helmet for much of his career, being one of the first NHL players to do so. Seibert, a big man at 6’2″ and nearly 200 pounds, began his career in New York with the Rangers in 1931. Seibert was known for being a particularly serious player and seriously packed a punch physically, right from the get-go in his rookie season at just 20 years old.

Seibert only had 10 points in 46 games during his rookie campaign, but he added 88 PIM, showing that he was willing to play the role of policeman on the ice if necessary. While Seibert wasn’t a particularly effective player in his sophomore season, his Rangers did have a good season, finishing in fourth place out of nine teams and surprising everyone by going all the way and winning the 1933 Stanley Cup.

It was in the 1933-34 season that Seibert exploded onto the scene, instantly becoming one of the NHL’s star defensemen. Seibert lead all defenders in goals with 13 and finished behind only King Clancy in points with 23 in 48 games. Seibert was rewarded by finishing 4th in Hart voting. Seibert didn’t slow down in the 1934-35 season, showing his playmaking side. Seibert finished with 6 goals and 19 assists, the latter being the 2nd highest total behind only Eddie Shore, his greatest individual rival. Many would frequently compare Seibert to Shore due to their similar play styles throughout their careers. Seibert finished on the First All-Star team at the end of the season.

Despite Seibert’s great play both offensively and defensively, he was traded in the midst of the 1935-36 season to the Chicago Black Hawks, largely due to his persistent haggling with his contract. That season itself was less impressive offensively for Seibert, but his ability to be a spectacular shot-blocker kept him relevant in the NHL, helping him earn a spot on the Second All-Star Team for the 1935-36 season. Seibert had a similar 1936-37 season, though he did score 9 goals, good for third among defensemen, again finishing on the Second All-Star Team. Seibert was also unfortunately the man who ended Howie Morenz‘ career and fracturing his leg on a relatively innocent play. Morenz would suffer further complications in the hospital and die a few months later.

Seibert had somewhat of a resurgence in the 1937-38 season, scoring 8 goals and adding 13 assists for 21 points, good for 3rd in points. The Black Hawks were not very good in 1937-38, just barely squeaking into the playoffs with a measly .385 point percentage. Despite all odds, they pushed their way all the way to the Cup victory, with Seibert playing a huge role by scoring 5 goals in 10 games from the back end. Seibert finished the year on the Second All-Star Team.

Seibert was remarkably durable given his playstyle and he played in all 48 games for the fourth time in his career during the 1938-39 season, continuing his reliable and rugged style for the Black Hawks. Seibert was named the captain of the Chicago Black Hawks in 1940 due to his serious leader tone and veteran experience, though he would relinquish the role two years later to Doug Bentley. Seibert began to have an offensive boost in the later years of his career, breaking 20 points again in the 1940-41 season, including 17 assists that tied Babe Pratt for the league lead among defensemen. Seibert remained one of the NHL’s top defensemen in the 1941-42 season, scoring 7 goals and 21 points, good for 5th in the NHL. His sustained offense combined with his consistent defensive play earned him a spot back on the First All-Star Team for the second time in his career.

Like the rest of the NHL, Seibert experienced an uptick in his offense in the 1942-43 season, setting new career highs in assists (27) and points (32), finishing 3rd in points and again tying Pratt for first in assists. For the second consecutive season, Seibert finished with a spot on the First All-Star Team. As the NHL expanded to 50 games in the 1943-44 season, Seibert continued to flourish. Seibert set a new personal best again with 33 points, tying for 5th in points among defensemen. Seibert was not only on the First All-Star Team again, but mimicked his first breakout season by finishing 4th in Hart Trophy voting.

Seibert clashed somewhat with the Hawks manager and in the 1944-45 season, he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings, despite a strong start to his season. Even through the trade, Seibert still had a strong season, scoring 12 goals and 29 points, good for 4th in points. Seibert’s numbers dipped significantly in the 1945-46 season and when he was offered a coaching job in the AHL with the Springfield Indians by Eddie Shore, who was the owner, Seibert accepted and retired mid-season from the NHL at 34 years old. Seibert’s coaching career started off well in the half-season he coached in 1945-46, but from then on, he suffered poor records and left in 1951.

Not known for his goal-scoring prowess, Seibert finished 5th all-time in points, but 2nd in assists among defensemen with 187 assists, just behind Babe Pratt. Due to his impressive durability, Seibert retired as the second most tenured defenseman in NHL history with 645 games over 15 seasons. Seibert was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963, two years after his father, Oliver Seibert, making them the first father-son duo in the Hall of Fame.

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