A Talk With Hockey Historian Scott Holland – by David Honsberger
Unofficially, he’s the GOJHL’s and West Conference’s historian and that moniker has been earned by many years of scholarly work. To the uninitiated, the West Conference and the GOJHL owes credit for much of it’s written history to Leamington’s Scott Holland.
For nearly 30 years, Holland has toiled in the background trenches, often quietly unseen recording and analyzing Jr. B hockey games. His love of history is what propelled him to create a record book documenting the early years of the Leamington Flyers.
But that attraction to history didn’t stop with the Flyers.
When he took on the position of the head of stats for the former Western Jr. B Hockey League, he started researching all of its teams and their histories. The more he delved into each franchise the more he found and much of it was fascinating.
He laughed when he asked about his initial efforts to create a record book, “I had heard many stories from GMs and older fans …The folklore of guys like Pat Stapleton, Terry Crisp, Phil Esposito. Names of NHLers kept popping up as well as some of the amazing things like the most goals and points in one season. It was less than a decade after Chatham’s Brian Wiseman had set the record and I knew those scattered scraps of info should be formally set down …I was fortunate that during the 1960s the London Free Press ran boxscores – a forerunner of today’s Pointstreak program. “
At the time he issued the copies of the first ever Western Jr. B Record Book (2003) the league’s GMs scoffed at it.
“It was very basic stuff including names of some NHL players from each team,” Holland said. “By the time the very limited second version came out in 2005, the number of records it contained had expanded and the volume had begun to grow. It took about five years of constantly adding to it and now it’s a volume that nearly matches something an NHL team might put out.”
In 2006, he converted it to an electronic version. With many blanks to fill, he continued with his research; some of the blanks got filled in and with the addition of Pointstreak it made it easier for him to check for corrected or new records.
Since 2008/09 the GOJHL and West Conference Record Book has become a standard part of the league and its conferences. From former players to casual fans to reporters and sometimes even scouts, requests are often received asking to confirm or verify records or past stats. The record book is handed out to scouts at the annual GOJHL Showcase Event to kick off every season. Scott has also built a database of past players stats from what yearly stats sheets he has come across or found and at the present time he has 20 seasons of uninterrupted stats in individual team files. Starting with the 1950/51 season right up to the present he has an alphabetical index that contains about 95% of the young men who have played in the West plus a general history of the development of each Western team.
How far back does he intend to go?
“I’d like to get back to the formation of the London Nationals circa 1946 or ’47,” Holland stated. “I left off at the start of the 1949 season, so I’m not far from completing my research.”
He still helps out at Leamington Flyers’ home games and has been the Leamington Senior Men’s Hockey League’s timekeeper, and statistician plus maintains the LSMHL website.
His spare time?
The humble, laid-back historian replied, “If I’m not reading a book, or working on writing another historical one, I’m relaxing listening to some classic rock and roll.”
Knowing that his record book is now part of the West’s constitution is fine by him, but there’s always another record or twist to a hockey game he hasn’t witnessed which will keep him checking the record book and making the necessary changes.