Frank McGee (second from right) lost his life serving Canada in World War I. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Today, and every day, these four hockey legends should be remembered for their incredible sacrifices off the ice. Frank McGee, George Richardson, Hobey Baker, and Scotty Davidson lost their lives fighting in World War I.
Frank McGee, George Richardson, Hobey Baker, and Scotty Davidson are best known for their on-ice accomplishments. Heroes of hockey, all four have been forever enshrined as honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. But today, and every day, they should also be remembered for the sacrifices they made during World War I.
McGee’s mark on hockey history includes one of the greatest scoring performances ever recorded. While it was in an era before major changes were made to the game, no one can deny the incredibleness of a single player recording 14 goals in one game. What makes the feat more astounding is that it took place during a Stanley Cup contest between McGee’s Ottawa Silver Seven and the Dawson City Nuggets.
A hero off the ice, McGee was so dedicated to serving in the military that he reportedly tricked doctors into thinking he had complete vision. McGee had previously lost sight in one eye following an injury during a hockey game. Covering his blind eye during the vision test, McGee was asked to switch the cover to the other eye. Instead, he switched hands, giving the appearance that he was covering the opposite eye.
At 33 years of age, McGee was killed in action on Sept. 16, 1916.
Richardson and McGee will forever be united not only by their service, but also through their play in the Challenge Cup era. Richardson, who never played professional hockey and remained an amateur up to his military service, was part of the Queen’s University team that challenged the famed Silver Seven team for the Stanley Cup. The Silver Seven defeated the university squad by an aggregate score of 28-14.
Richardson played primarily for Queen’s, during which time the Kingston, Ont. native helped lead his team to intercollegiate championships and an Ontario Hockey Association title. One of his most iconic moments came when he requested a referee cease calling penalties on the opposition after the score was out of hand. Queen’s defeated McGill 13-3 in that contest.
Buried in Bailleul, France, Richardson, then 29, was killed on Feb. 10, 1916 while serving for the Canadian military.
Baker, best remembered as the namesake for the trophy awarded annually to the NCAA’s top player, is considered one of the greatest collegiate athletes to have lived. A standout for the Princeton Tigers, Baker was also the quarterback of the school’s football team.
One of the first nine inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Baker was also posthumously awarded with the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1987 for contributions to the game of hockey in the United States. In addition to Hockey Hall of Fame honors, Baker was also inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
Baker became a fighter pilot during World War I. On Dec. 21, 1918, days before he was to leave the war to come back to the United States, Baker died in a tragic plane crash as he test-piloted a recently repaired aircraft. Baker, 26, was buried in France, but had his body moved to a gravesite in Pennsylvania shortly after his burial.
Davidson, the youngest of the four to lose their lives in World War I, was only 23 when he was killed in action in on June 6, 1915. Reports vary on the way Davidson was killed, with the most common reports tell of him dying while either carrying a fellow soldier to safety or during a bombing raid.
In 40 games with the Toronto Blueshirts, Davidson recorded 42 goals and 55 points. He also led the Kingston Frontenacs to consecutive OHA championships, captaining both squads.
All four men are hockey heroes of the highest regard, but let us not forget the sacrifices they made for their countries. Our world is a better place today because of them.