Tommy Gorman

Thomas Patrick "T. P." Gorman (June 9, 1886May 15, 1961) was a founder of the National Hockey League, a winner of seven Stanley Cups as a general manager with four teams, and an Olympic gold medal-winning lacrosse player for Canada.

Early years

Mr. Gorman was born in Ottawa, Ontario and was a parliamentary page boy as a youth, but sports were his love. He was the youngest member of the Canadian lacrosse team that won the gold medal (only two teams competed) at the 1908 Summer Olympics. He then played professionally for a number of seasons. Mr. Gorman—whose father was a journalist—became sports editor of the Ottawa Citizen and worked at the paper until 1921.

Joins the NHL

Ted Dey, principal owner of the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey Association, had trouble recruiting players for the 1916–17 season and hired Mr. Gorman to do the task. He did so capably that he was hired as secretary-treasurer. Mr. Gorman, George Kennedy, Sam Lichtenhein and Mike Quinn all played a part in forming the National Hockey League in an effort to rid themselves of Eddie Livingstone.

Even though he had never played hockey, Mr. Gorman was a talented evaluator of talent. In 1917, he took over the Ottawa Senators and helped lead the team to Stanley Cups in 1920, 1921, and 1923. He sold his interest in the Senators in 1925 to Frank Ahearn and became manager-coach of the New York Americans, introducing professional hockey to New York City.

Agua Caliente

He resigned from the Americans in 1929 to get involved in horse racing. He managed the Agua Caliente Racetrack in Mexico. In 1932, Gorman brought the legendary horse Phar Lap to Mexico where the horse won the $100,000 Agua Caliente Handicap before dying under mysterious circumstances in San Francisco. When the president of Agua Caliente sold the racetrack in 1932, Gorman was briefly out of sports.

Returns to the NHL

Late in the 1932–33 season, he was hired as coach of the Chicago Black Hawks and became general manager as well the following season, building a defensive squad around Lionel Conacher and goalie Charlie Gardiner. He took the team from last place in their division in 1932–33 to their first Stanley Cup victory in 1934—despite scoring the fewest goals of any NHL team. Ten days after the Cup victory, Gorman resigned. He went to Montreal and helped the Montreal Maroons to their final Cup in 1935, thus becoming the first (and only) coach to win consecutive Stanley Cups with different teams. Gorman coached the Maroons until the club folded in 1938. In 1940, he became general manager of the Montreal Canadiens and lead them to Cup victories in 1944 and 1946.

Gorman was also a promoter. One of his flops was after he became manager-coach of the Montreal Maroons when he booked evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson at the Montreal Forum. Few people came. "No one wanted to be saved," he explained. However, some of his better promotions came when he was the Montreal Canadiens general manager. He had Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra perform at the Forum.

Ottawa sports promoter

After retiring as general manager of the Canadiens in 1946, Gorman bought the Ottawa Senators of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, managing it to win the Allan Cup in 1949. He took figure skater Barbara Ann Scott on a continental tour after she won the figure skating gold medal at the 1948 Winter Olympics. Gorman revived professional wrestling in Montreal and promoted it in Ottawa, and introduced professional baseball to Ottawa in 1951 with the Ottawa Giants of the International League. He took over management of the Connaught Race Track near Ottawa.

Gorman was managing the race track when he died of cancer at the age of 74. He was the last living founder of the NHL. He has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (1963), the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame (1966), and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (1977).

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