The Ottawa Senators' Stanley Cup-winning 1922-23 team featured a number of future Hall-of-Fame players, including Harold "Punch" Broadbent (bottom row, far left), who fought for Canada in World War I. (Photo from Old Scores, New Goals, the History of the Ottawa Senators.)
Every year on November 11, citizens throughout the Commonwealth, the United States of America, and in other countries commemorate those who died while fighting for their countries in war since World War I with parades, moments of silence, and other ceremonies. During the days leading up to this year's Remembrance Day, we at Silver Seven will look at the points where the history of the Ottawa Senators intersects with the stories of the First and Second World Wars. These are but a few stories among tens of thousands of Canadians who went to war in defen ce of our country.
During World War I, Canadians across the country left their jobs in order to fight for the Allied cause in Europe. Hockey players were no different, and many of the world's best hockey players had their careers interrupted in order to devote their energies to the more pressing needs of the world.
One of those players was Harold Lawton "Punch" Broadbent, a member of the Ottawa Senators. At just 23 years of age, Broadbent attested to serve in the Canadian Overseas Expedition Force in July of 1915. Little information is available online about Broadbent's war record, but he served with the Force for more than three years before returning to Canada (and to the Senators).
Broadbent was awarded the Military Medal for his service, given to a soldier "for individual or associated acts of bravery on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the field."
Broadbent left the Senators in 1915 to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and, when he came home from Europe in 1918, he returned to his old team. While the Senators were in the National Hockey Association before he left, the NHA had folded, and Ottawa was now a member of the newly-formed National Hockey League.
By many accounts, Broadbent pioneered the role of the power forwards in professional hockey. Opposing teams feared Broadbent's fists and his elbows as much as they feared his scoring ability, and even if he couldn't beat them on the scoreboard--which, considering the incredibly strong teams he played for, didn't happen often--he could still beat them in other ways. (He was nicknamed "Punch" for good reason.) He finished his NHL career with 167P (122G, 45A) in 302GP, but his 553PIM are evidence of his physically punishing style. He set, and still holds, the NHL record 16-game goal-scoring streak in 1922, the same season he was the league's scoring champion and led the Senators to the Stanley Cup title.
As the league grew and the Senators' team changed, Broadbent was traded to the Montreal Maroons. He played with them for four seasons before returning, once again, to the Senators, where he played for one more season. He played his final season with the New York Americans before retiring from professional hockey ion 1929.
Though Broadbent was playing some of the best hockey of his career in the late 1910s, he gave up three years of a promising career to fight for his country in World War I. His contribution won't be forgotten.
- Kitchen, Paul. Win, Tie, or Wrangle: The Inside Story of the Old Ottawa Senators. Newcastle, ON: Penumbra Press, 2008.
- Pelletier, Joe. "Ottawa Hockey Legends: Punch Broadbent." Joe Pelletier's 'Greatest Hockey Legends,' available here.
- Hockey Hall of Fame. "Punch Broadbent - Biography - Honoured Player - Legends of Hockey," available here.
- Library and Archives Canada. "Harry Lawton Broadbent," Soldiers of the First World War (attestation form), available here.
- Wikipedia. "Ottawa Senators (original)," available here.
- Wikipedia. "Punch Broadbent," available here.