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Creighton, Army Named Tops Award Winners
Providence, RI (7/6/2018): The families of deceased hockey heroes Dave Creighton and George Army will accept the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society's 2018-19 Tops Award at the organization's 18th annual reunion event at Goddard State Park in Warwick on Sunday, August 5.
The leadership award is named in honor of Zellio Toppazzini, Reds all-time scoring leader and Reds "Player of the Century."
Creighton, after an outstanding 12-year career in the National Hockey League where served the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, came to the Reds in a trade 1965. There, he became the primary leader of a dismal team that had not made the American Hockey League playoffs in three consecutive seasons.
A clever playmaking center, Creighton was soon named player-coach of the Reds and turned the turned the team around in 1967-68 as leader of the club's top line by centering rookie left wing Brian Perry and veteran right winger Eddie Kachur. The line scored 100 goals (42.6%) of the team's 235 goals. The Reds finished third in the standings, just one point out of second place, then went on to defeat Springfield in the first round of the playoffs before being nudged out in the semi-finals by Quebec.
Creighton's leadership achievements were deservedly acknowledged by the AHL when the circuit named him Most Valuable Player for '67-68. With that award he became only the second (and last ever) player-coach in AHL history to be named MVP. The other was Fred Glover of Cleveland. After several more successful seasons guiding the Reds as coach and general manager, he moved to Florida for retirement and golf club ownership. He passed away at age 86 in December 2017.
Like Creighton, Army forged his own leadership path with the Reds, but as an off-the-ice treasure find for the Reds. In 1930s he was a minor league catcher in baseball and friendly with a pitcher named Jean Dubuc, who had a financial interest in pro hockey’s Providence Reds. Dubuc said the team was looking for a trainer and offered the job to his catcher friend.
Despite knowing nothing about the skills of training athletes -- let alone hockey players -- Army accepted the position and began a brand-new career as trainer of the Reds in 1934. It would turn out to be a lifetime career of 46 years, lasting until his death at age 69 in January 1969.
Army learned his craft on his own. There were no “trainers’ clinics” in those days. So, he buried himself in medical books and carefully observed team doctors. In his self-taught, on-the-job learning process he focused on studying the physical anatomy of players and the most common injuries he would face. He even learned how to take stitches to close facial wounds, a talent he perfected by slicing orange peels at home and then stitching them back together. During game injuries, Reds players, and even players on opposing teams, were comfortable in having him stitch them -- many times preferring him over attending doctors.
George Army not only was a leader in injury diagnosis and treatment, he was also a great teacher in art of healing. Today, two of his local protégé students -- Tommy Woodcock and Pete Demers -- are recognized proudly in the trainers' division of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
This year's Tops Award selections of Dave Creighton and George Army are among the most deserved yet in the 18-year history of the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society.
The Sunday, August 5 event includes a buffet dinner, music, raffles, and a silent auction of hockey memorabilia. Cost is $35 per adult, $15 for children. For information and reservations contact Mal Goldenberg at (401)782-6623 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline to buy tickets is July 16.
For further information call 401-230-5905 or e-mail RIREDS15@gmail.com.