J.S. "Black Jack" Stewart
John Sherratt Stewart learned to play hockey on the outdoor rinks in and around his birth place of Pilot Mound, Manitoba during the 1920’s. In the early ‘30’s, Stewart became a member of the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
In 1938, the Detroit Red Wings signed the 21-year-old defenceman to his first professional contract. After starting his first pro season with the Wings’ farm team in Pittsburgh, Stewart was called up and made an immediate impact. Stewart went on to play a total of 33 games for the Red Wings during his inaugural NHL season. Slowly but surely, his reputation for handing out punishing bodychecks made its way around the league. Some players said taking a hit from Stewart was like getting hit with a black jack. It was a nickname with a natural fit and it stuck to Stewart the same way he “stuck it” to opponents who dared to venture near him.
“Black Jack” Stewart spent a total of ten years with Detroit. During that time, he won two Stanley Cups, was named to five NHL all-star teams, and he won the admiration of teammates and players from around the league. Jack Adams, Stewart’s head coach and general manager, called his rugged defenceman “one of the best blueliners in the game”. Hockey legends like Syd Abel, Ted Lindsay, and Gordie Howe said Stewart played a bigger role than they did in creating a winner in the motor city. Stewart was traded to Chicago during the 1950-51 season where he was quickly named team captain and assistant coach. Unfortunately for the Black Hawks and the National Hockey League, he was forced to retire just two years later due to a bad back. When his career came to an end, “Black Jack” Stewart had racked up 115 points in 565 NHL games.
b. May 6, 1917
d. May 25, 1983