Dutton presents the Calder Memorial Trophy to Gus Bodnar as NHL president in 1944
|Born||July 23, 1898
Russell, MB, CAN
|Died||March 15, 1987 (aged 88),
Calgary, AB, CAN
|6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
New York Americans
|Playing career||1921 – 1936|
|Hall of Fame, 1958|
Norman Mervyn Alexander "Red" Dutton (July 23, 1898 – March 15, 1987) was a professional ice hockey player, an ice hockey executive and a businessman in construction contracting. He played for the Calgary Tigers, Montreal Maroons and the New York Americans. After his playing days, he became the manager of the Americans, and later served as the second president of the NHL from 1943 to 1946, before leaving ice hockey and running a contract construction business. He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.
Dutton's father was successful in construction contracting. Dutton was educated at St. John's College in Winnipeg but left school to fight in World War I. He joined the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry in 1915. In April 1917 he took a shrapnel blast to the right leg that was so bad that doctors considered amputation. They delayed, and he recovered full use of his leg.
After the war, Dutton started a contracting business of his own. It was not successful at first, and he went into professional hockey. However, he kept the business going as a sideline and returned to it after leaving the presidency of the National Hockey League. His business Standard Holdings was a partnership with Reg Jennings, and was based in Calgary, Alberta, where Dutton lived until his death in 1987. Dutton was pre-deceased by his two eldest sons Alex and Joe who died in flying missions in World War II, and his youngest son Norman who died in 1973.
After being discharged from the army, Dutton strengthened his leg by playing in seven local hockey leagues during the 1919–20 season. He joined the Calgary Tigers of the Western Hockey League, staying with the club until the league's demise in 1926. He played in one Stanley Cup Final in 1924, against the Montreal Canadiens. After the WHL folded, he signed with the Montreal Maroons for $6,000 per season. He played four seasons for the Maroons, before being acquired by the New York Americans.
The Americans played at Madison Square Garden, which they rented from the owners of the New York Rangers. Despite beating the Rangers in a playoff series in 1938, thanks to a dramatic overtime goal by Lorne Carr, the Americans were always treated as second-class citizens by the Madison Square Garden Corporation, the New York media, and fans. While the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1928, 1933, and 1940, the closest the Americans got was the 1938 semifinals, where they lost to the Chicago Black Hawks.
In 1935, Dutton became the Americans' coach and manager, and often supported the team financially as well, loaning money to its owner "Big Bill" Dwyer, a notorious bootlegger and race track operator. After the NHL assumed control of the Americans from Dwyer, NHL president Frank Calder allowed Dutton to continue running the team.
During World War II, the Garden Corporation used its resources to help keep the Rangers in business and virtually ignored the Americans. After the 1941–42 season, Dutton announced the Amerks would suspend operations for the duration of the war. While the Amerks had suffered massive financial losses and seen large numbers of players drafted into the military, they were still reeling from massive debt inherited from the Dwyer era. Dutton believed that if the Americans could have held on through the war, his team would become more popular than the Rangers. "A couple of more years and we would have run the Rangers right out of the rink," he said.
Dutton was named managing director (acting president) of the NHL after the death of Frank Calder in February 1943, running the league at the direction of a subcommittee of the NHL Board of Governors. He was eventually convinced to assume the presidency in 1945, but in September 1946 he handed over the reins to his assistant, Clarence Campbell, a former NHL referee who had just returned from military service in Europe and had been in the job for less than a month.
Dutton had every intention of reviving the Americans; in fact, the NHL Board of Governors promised to allow him to revive the team in a new arena in Brooklyn after the war. However, when he tried to set his plan in motion, opposition from Madison Square Garden resulted in the dormant Amerks franchise being canceled. Dutton recalled the discussion of the franchise at the NHL annual meeting in June 1946 to Trent Frayne:
"There's this other matter; the franchise in Brooklyn." Well, there's this stony silence. Finally, Connie Smythe says, "Yes, Red, we've talked about that."
"There are complications."
"Well, for one thing, Madison Square Garden wants two franchises."
"What" I say. "But I've talked to people in Brooklyn. They've got a site and they're ready to put up a $7 million dollar building as soon as I get the word from here."
"Yes. Well, the Garden wants two."
I look around the room and nobody's looking at me, and I get the message. "Gentlemen", I said to the governors, "You can stick your franchise up your ass." I gathered up my papers and left.
Dutton returned to his contracting business in Calgary, Alberta, and focused his attention on regional hockey. His relations with the NHL were restricted to dealings as a trustee of the Stanley Cup (succeeding Philip Dansken Ross). The NHL sought to bring back Dutton into hockey, backing him as Stanley Cup trustee, and later in his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful, and reportedly he did not attend another NHL game before the inaugural game of the Calgary Flames in 1980.
|National Hockey League President
1943–1946 (acting president until 1945)
Philip Dansken Ross
|Stanley Cup Trustee
|New York Americans captains