The Price of Success: Whitby Dunlops and the Demise of Senior Hockey - Champlain Society November 2019 Findings/Trouvailles

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The Champlain Society is pleased to present the November 2019 Findings/Trouvailles.


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The Price of Success: Whitby Dunlops and the Demise of Senior Hockey

By Andrew C. Holman


Sixty years ago, the Whitby Dunlops were a celebrated national treasure on Canada’s sport scene. Founded in 1954, the team quickly rose to success, backed by a local tire manufacturer and rabid boosters. Winners of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association’s Allan Cup as top senior amateur team in 1957. The following year, they represented Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation championship where, on the strength of performances by Harry Sinden, Bob Attersley, and Sid Smith, they defeated the USSR to win the world title. Their victory came at an auspicious time. The match was a stand-in for Cold War political rivalry and a needed salve for nationalists, who saw top European teams as threats to Canada’s claim on the sport. After losses to the Soviets in the 1954 worlds and the 1956 Olympics,1 the “Dunnies’” victory returned the title to Canada, “back where it should be,” as the Victoria Times Colonist noted.


After their world title, they won the Allan Cup again in 1959. But by 1960, the team had folded, a victim of the precarious finances that plagued senior hockey everywhere in Canada, as televised hockey drained attendance from local games.3 While they were called “amateurs,” the Dunlops were salaried players — semi-pros, perhaps — whose on-ice earnings supplemented pay from local jobs arranged by team management or sponsors. Founded and managed by future NHL coach Wren Blair (1925-2013), the team was a wholly commercial affair whose success depended on keeping revenues high and expenditures low. Read the full post at:




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