Is Lionel Conacher Canada’s Greatest Athlete of All Time?

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Lionel Conacher was one of the best defenders of his era.

But that’s not what impresses when you look back at his career. Rather, it’s his incredible versatility.

Listen to us talk about the greatest Canadian athlete of the first half of the 20th century here:

Hall of Fame Class of 1994: Harry Watson, Lionel Conacher

Lionel Conacher’s Career:

  • NHL: 1925-37; 12 seasons, 10 quality
  • Totals:
    • 78G (10th D All Time at his retirement),
    • 108A (5th D All Time at his retirement) for
    • 186P (7th D All Time at his retirement) in
    • 498 Games (16th All Time at his retirement, 4th D);
    • 65.5 PS (9th All Time at his retirement, 5th D)
    • At his retirement, Conacher was 8th All Time in Defensive Point Shares and 4th All Time in Offensive Point Shares among D and
  • Per Game: Conacher obviously doesn’t qualify for the leader boards, but if the qualifier is set to 410 Games (5 modern seasons), among D Conacher is
    • 5th All Time in GPG
    • 4th All Time in APG
    • 5th All Time in PPG
  • Not drafted
  • Era: Of the 11 D to play in at least 410 games (5 modern seasons) between 1925 and 1937, Conacher is
    • 4th in Goals and GPG
    • 4th in Assists and APG
    • 4th in Points and PPG
    • 3rd in Offensive Point Shares
    • 6th in Defensive Point Shares
    • 3rd in Point Shares
  • 82-game average: 13G, 18A for 30P
  • 3-year peak (1933-36): 48-game average of 6G, 10A for 16P; 4.2 PS
  • No possession stats obviously
  • Playoffs:
    • 2G,
    • 2A for 
    • 4P in
    • 35 Games
    • Era: Of the 26 D to play in at least 20 playoff games between 1925 and 1937, Conacher is
      • 14th in playoff Goals
      • 18th in playoff GPG
      • 15th in playoff Assists
      • 18th in playoff APG
      • 18th in playoff Points
      • 19th in playoff PPG
  • Adjusted:
    • Hockey-Reference:
      • 145G,
      • 347A for
      • 492P
      • Adjusted 82-game average: 24G, 57A for 81P
      • Per Game: doesn’t qualify obviously
    • VsX: Doesn’t qualify
  • Trades: 
    • Traded at 25 to Pittsburgh for Charlie Langois (32) and cash
    • Traded at 29 to the Maroons for Cash
    • Traded at 32 to Chicago for Teddy Graham
    • Traded at 33 with Leroy Goldsworthy (28) and Roger Jenkins (22) to Montreal for Lorne Chabot (nearly 34), Marty Burke (29) and Howie Morenz (32)
    • Then immediately traded with Herb Cain (21) to the Maroons for Nels Crutchfield (22)

Lionel Conacher’s Accomplishments:

  • Top 5 in Hart voting twice
  • Top Player:
    • Top 5 Player (by PS) once (‘34)
    • Top 10 Player twice (‘37)
    • Best Defensive Player (by DPS) once (‘34)
    • Top 5 Defensive Player twice (‘29)
    • Top 10 Defensive Player three times (‘26)
  • Assists:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 10 in Assists three times
    • APG leader-boards:
      • Top 10 in APG once
  • All Star:
    • 1st Team All Star once
    • 2nd Team All Star twice
  • Non-hockey – possibly 11 or more different champions
    • “Canada’s Greatest Male Athlete of the Half-Century”
    • Baseball:
      • Once supposedly won the Toronto city baseball championship and then won the provincial lacrosse championship later that day (joining the game midway through and scoring four goals)
    • Boxing:
      • Amateur light-heavyweight boxing champion
    • Football:
      • Organized and captained the first professional football team in Canada
    • International Professional Lacrosse League:
      • Led league in points (nearly doubling 2nd place)
    • Wrestling:
      • Ontario lightweight wrestling championship

Lionel Conacher’s Great Teams:

  • NHL:
    • Best D (by points) on once Champion (‘34 Black Hawks)
    • Top 2? D (by points) on two Final Fours (‘26 Pirates, ‘37 Maroons)
    • Top 4? D (by points) on one Champion (‘35 Maroons)
    • Unknown role (no D scored) on two Final Fours (‘32, ‘36 Maroons)
  • Amateur:
    • Memorial Cup:
      • Best D? (by points) on one Champion (‘20 Toronto Canoe Club)
    • United States Amateur Hockey Association:
      • Captain on one Champion (‘24 Yellow Jackets) [team was so good they became the NHL Pirates]
  • Non-hockey:
    • Football:
      • Best player? On one Grey Cup Champion (‘22 Argonauts)

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