Earl Robertson

Earl Robertson was the unlikely hero of the 1937 Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup championship squad. Robertson, a 10 year minor leaguer, was called up to replace the Wings' starting goalie Normie Smith. Smith injured his elbow in round one against Montreal. It swelled up so much that he could not play against the New York Rangers in the finals. In total Detroit was missing five regulars for the finals.

For Robertson it was his first taste of NHL action. Imagine that! It is your first game and you are in net for game one of the Stanley Cup finals! Talk about pressure! But Robertson performed miraculously in leading the Wings to the Cup. He led Detroit to a three games to two victory. In the final two games he recorded consecutive shutouts!

After adding a Stanley Cup ring to his resume, Robertson was all but assured of NHL employment the following season. However the Wings decided to stay with Smith and traded Robertson to the New York Americans for Red Doran and cash. It was a good move for Robertson. He was the team's undisputed number one goalie for the next three years, posting 51 wins and 15 shutouts while missing only 2 games. He was even named to the NHL second all star team in 1939.

However Robertson's fine play could only carry the financially troubled Americans so far. The team in front of him was one of the weakest in the league, and by 1940 it really showed in the standings. The team went 15-29-4 and missed the playoffs. That was the beginning of the end for Robertson.

The Americans had a hot young prospect waiting for a chance to play in the net. That prospect was future Hall of Famer Chuck Rayner.

Rayner and Robertson battled it out for the starting job for the Americans, with Robertson playing 36 of 48 games in 1940-41. Rayner played the remaining 12 games but also was fine tuning his game in the minor leagues. By 1941-42, the tables were turned. Rayner played in 36 games while Robertson played in just 12, and played most of the season in the minor leagues.

The Americans folded in the summer of 1942. Robertson retired while Rayner would play with the cross town rivals Rangers after a 3 year stint in the military.


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