Sprague Cleghorn Was One of NHL's Most Feared Players

Published on May 13th, 2024 4:25 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

National Hockey Leagues first enforcer - Sprague Cleghorn. Sprague Cleghorn was such a dirty and feared player that he was nearly arrested TWICE for on-ice incidents.

Cleghorn learned at an early age that his stick could prove to be a powerful weapon when looking to intimidate other players.

As a defenseman, Cleghorn was looking to intimidate opposing players as much as possible, as it would lead to them making mistakes.

Cleghorn often took things too far, and quickly developed a reputation as being one of the dirtiest players in the NHL.

Cleghorn was so dirty, in fact, that he was allegedly the sole reason for the introduction of the Lady Byng Trophy.


According to some reports, Evelyn Byng, the Viscountess Byng of Vimy, was so distraught by the trail of mayhem that Cleghorn left every time he hit the ice that she donated the Lady Byng Trophy to the league in order to promote more sportsmanlike action.

It's safe to say that Cleghorn never won that award.


Cleghorn, however, was an incredibly talented player.

In fact, some believe that Cleghorn is one of the top 100 NHL players of all time, and it is thought that he was the first player to morph into the role of "offensive defenseman".

While terrorizing opposing players on the defensive end, Cleghorn was also extremely prolific on the offensive end of the ice.

In fact, Cleghorn scored 21 goals during his 1914-15 season with the Montreal Wanderers of the NHA - an eye-popping number of goals for the time, especially for a defenseman.


Cleghorn was a three-time Stanley Cup winner who is also regarded as one of the best players of all time.

He also left a permanent mark on the game, as he is thought to be the reason why the Lady Byng Trophy was introduced to promote more sportsmanlike play.

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