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Tuesday February 16, 2010 11:00 pm

The unknown Norris has done more than you think

Marguerite Norris/Stanley CupThe NHL is a man’s league. It’s hard to argue that point. If you were asked to name two female NHL players ever, you wouldn’t be able to do it, because there’s only been one, Manon Rheaume, and even that was a pre-season publicity stunt that the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled off for publicity. However, hockey has had its share of women behind the scenes, perhaps none of which are more noteworthy than former president of the Detroit Red Wings, Marguerite Norris.

In 1952, Marguerite took over as president of the Red Wings when her father, James Norris Sr. passed away. When the Wings captured the Stanley Cup in 1954, she became the first woman to have her name engraved on the trophy. Her name was etched again in 1955. It was also the seventh straight season that Detroit finished first in the standings. After 1955, Marguerite resigned her position for her brother Bruce to take over the running of the team.

The end of the Norris legacy in Detroit came in 1982, when business entrepreneur Mike Ilitch bought the Red Wings and two farm clubs for an estimated $9 million. Not a bad bargain for a team worth over $100 million today. However, the Norris name lives on, as the James Norris Memorial Trophy was established to honor the “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”.

Marguerite’s time as top dog in Detroit was short, just four seasons, but the team was every bit as successful under her as under any other president. Her father James Sr. and brothers James D. and Bruce are all members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Is it fair to Marguerite to keep her out of the Hall? Her contributions to hockey aren’t as widespread as her family, but she carried the Detroit dynasty through a rough period during their heyday. While it’s ridiculous to suggest she’s not in because she’s a woman, but consideration for her induction is certainly debatable. She’s certainly more worthy than Rheaume.

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