Charles Henry "Rabbit" McVeigh - Born March 29, 1898 in Kenora, Ontario, Canada – Died May 7, 1984 was a Canadian professional Ice Hockey player.
Hockey was a popular sport in Kenora and McVeigh became interested at an early age. When the Kenora Thistles won the Stanley Cup in January 1907 nine-year-old “Charley” was the team mascot.
As a teen, McVeigh played for the Thistles, travelling with them to games in northwestern Ontario and Manitoba, and his brother William played for the Kenora CPR Hockey team.
McVeigh played in the Northern Ontario Hockey Association with the local Kenora Juniors and the Kenora Thistles.
Private Charles Henry McVeigh would serve in World War I with the Canadian forces 16th Battalion, and saw heavy fighting at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917 and was wounded once, and in March 1918 Charles became ill with trench fever. He lost much of his hearing in his right ear from his time in the war, but did not deter him from rejoining his passion for Hockey when he returned from the war.
McVeigh’ family had moved to Winnipeg while he was overseas and he settled there after the war, working as a yardman and playing senior Hockey with the Winnipeg Victorias. About a year later he moved to Moose Jaw to play for the Maple Leafs and he boarded with a widow, Mrs. Annie Upex. He married her daughter, 19 year old Grace Lillian Upex, on 28 November 1922 in Winnipeg.
McVeigh was one tough guy - "So Tough" it was reported "that when he was a youngster in Winnipeg, he used to chew tobacco and then roll it up and save it to smoke when dry.
During the early '20s, the young forward rejected the National Hockey League / NHL in favour of the Western Canada Hockey League. McVeigh enjoyed four solid years with the Regina Capitals of the WCHL, where he played with the likes of Dick Irvin and George Hay. McVeigh scored 45 goals in 112 games, and was a 1923 WCHL all-star. McVeigh played 1 season with the Portland Rosebuds after the franchise relocated.
McVeigh was nicknamed Rabbit by Pete Muldoon of the Portland Rosebuds in 1925 after he was charged at wildly by an opponent, but the little forward hopped over the enemy and moved in on goal. Muldoon declared then and there that McVeigh was going to be called Rabbit.
McVeigh was quite small at 5'6" and 145lbs,
McVeigh's rights were transferred to the Chicago Black Hawks after the NHL team purchased the Portland franchise on May 15, 1926. In 1926-27, McVeigh scored 12 goals when partnered with Cully Wilson and Mickey Mackay. Dick Irvin, Mickey MacKay, George Hay and Rabbit McVeigh were the cornerstone of the Chicago franchise. He played one more year in Chicago before he was traded to the New York Americans for Alex McKinnon.
McVeigh played all three forward positions on the top line for the Americans, though is most often cited as a left winger. McVeigh spent seven years with the weak New York Americans club and was often its most consistent player.
A star forward, the scrappy little fellow made a name for himself as a rough-&-tumble player, who never minded how big they came.
In December of 1935, Harold C. Burr of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle polled members of the New York Americans to get their thoughts on covering their heads with helmets. McVeigh's answer: I’d be all for a jockey cap lined with rubber.
McVeigh scored 84 goals and 88 assists, with 138 PIM in 401 NHL games.
He retired in 1936 after playing a year in the IHL with the London Tecumsehs.
After McVeigh retired, he went on to a career as an American Hockey League / AHL Linesman, going on to serve as the AHL's Referee in Chief , and then a National Hockey League / NHL linesman and referee from 1939 to 1945.
During his career in the National Hockey League as a Linesman, McVeigh, fractious as ever, called a close one on the Detroit Red Wings. Up streaked burly Ebbie Goodfellow, Red Wings captain, to give the umpire a piece of his mind. Calmly eying the big man hovering over him, McVeigh waited until he paused for breath, then let him have one. 'Listen!' said he icily, 'In the last war I got a dollar ten a day for killing big tramps like you!'"
Lester Patrick was quoted saying about McVeigh;
"He not only had a dynamic personality and plenty of color, but he gave the best at all times and was a credit to the game"
Charles "Rabbit" McVeigh was inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.