John Frederick Howard, born in Dec 1896, was probably too young to remember much about Winnipeg before the Howard’s moved to New York. However, Canada, and winter sports, never left him. He was the youngest child of hockey’s first royal family, after all.
John, often referred to as “Jack”, gained some minor fame for speed skating at St. Nicholas Rink in 1912. A competition of skill and speed between Jack and the Gerschel (or Gershel) brothers, Arthur and Stanley, from Public School 166. Unfortunately, Jack’s skating exploits don’t appear to make news until 1917. Jack may have gone to Public School 155 or 153 and Manual, now known as John Jay. So, more records may be available from “The Prospect”, Manual’s Yearbook.
In 1917, Jack joins “The Hockey Club” along with his older brother Tom Howard, Jr. The Hockey Club was one of the four amateur teams in New York’s Metropolitan League. The winner would face the winner of Boston’s amateur league. Ultimately, the Hockey Club lost the 1917 season with 2 Wins – 4 Losses. Jack played in four games with three goals and no penalty minutes. Penalties appears to be one area where Jack did not follow his brother.
After the fateful season for the Hockey Club, Jack participated in an event sponsored by the Canadian Club of New York. The event was a charity drive for the Lady Drummond Hospital fund for Canadian soldiers. Activities at the event included figure skating. But, the highlight was the hockey game between the All-Stars and the Crescent. The event took place on March 21, 1917, prior to the United States joining the war. The entire Howard family participated in some way, and Jack’s role was Goal Umpire. The event netted $502.
By October 1917, Jack enlisted in the Navy Reserves along with his brother. They both played on the Newport Navy Yard team in the US Navy Hockey League (USNHL), which played with other amateur leagues with approval from the Amateur Athletic Union (A.A.U.). Because of the approval of the A.A.U., USNHL players had full amateur status like their Canadian cousins.
Retaining amateur status for amateur hockey players who enlisted caused much debate in Canada. Amateur hockey players, moreso than other amateur sportspeople, lead dual lives. They play hockey at night and work by day. However, that work can’t pay to play, like hockey stick endorsement. They can be hockey coaches and write books. Tom”Attie” Howard landed in some hot water with the A.A.U. over his stick endorsement. Additionally, amateur hockey was viewed as the future. In a way, maintaining status was critical. The ruling handed down as military (officer and enlisted) who were amateur hockey players were allowed to keep their amateur status.
By initial accounts, Jack’s time with Newport Naval Reserves hockey team resulted in two games and six goals. However, this is not a complete picture of the 1918 season. Jack was involved in a brawl between Charleston Navy Yard and New York Wanders’ Bill McGill. Jack, like his father who also participated in the brawl, were spectators.
Jack tragecally died after a car accident in Dec 1919. He was riding on the toolbox of Tom’s car when it was hit. Jack got up after the accident but apparently had massive internal injuries. They buried him on Christmas Eve, 1919. Jack born a hockey player; died as an insurance rep.
It’s not clear, but Jack’s death likely had a significant impact on his family. Shortly after, Press coverage of the Howard’s drastically reduces even from “home town” papers like Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Tom Jr. moves to California. While Mrs. Howard vansishes from nearly eve. I’m sure that part of the reason was the changing nature of hockey from amateur to professional and seven to six man. 1919 marks a changing in old guard of hockey.
*NOTE: Jack is a common nickname for John in the United States. Other famous John’s named Jack include John F. Kennedy (35th President), John Lemmon (Actor), and John Lambert (NFL).
*NOTE: John Jay High School on 7th Ave was dismantled in 2004.
*NOTE: The Canadian Club of New York merged with another Canadian Society. The merged entity is called the Canadian Association of New York.