Jean-Baptiste "Jack" Laviolette - Born July 17, 1879 in Belleville, Ontario – Died January 9, 1960 in Montreal, Quebec, was a Canadian professional Ice Hockey defenceman / winger, coach, manager and Lacrosse player.
Laviolette's family moved to Valleyfield, Quebec where he took up the sports of Hockey and Lacrosse at an early age. He began his organized Hockey career in the Montreal City League and moved to the Montreal Le National of the Federal Amateur Hockey League in 1904, finishing sixth in league scoring with eight goals in six games. Le National was famous for being one of the first men's teams composed of francophones.
Laviolette moved to the Michigan Soo Indians of the International Hockey League / IHL the following season where he scored 40 goals over three seasons and was named to the IHL First All-Star Team in 1905 and 1907 along with a being made a Second Team selection in 1906.
Laviolette returned to Montreal in the fall of 1907 to play for the Montreal Shamrocks of the Eastern Canadian Amateur Hockey Association / ECAHA for the next two seasons.
With the formation of the National Hockey Association / NHA in December 1909, (replaced 7 years later by the NHL), team/league owner Ambrose O'Brien asked Laviolette to put together a team made up of French Canadian players to play as the "Les Canadiens" franchise in Montreal. Laviolette was given free rein by the NHA owners to sign all francophone players. The others would not sign any until the Canadien team was set. His first signing was his old friend Didier "Cannonball" Pitre. Pitre was working in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario when he received a telegram from Laviolette outlining the team and to come to Montreal. At the train in North Bay, Ontario Pitre was met by an official of the CHA's Montreal Le National, who signed him on the spot for $1100, however Pitre had thought he was signing a contract with Laviolette. When Pitre arrived in Ottawa, Laviolette was there to meet him. Laviolette explained that it was the other French-Canadien team that Laviolette was managing. Pitre signed with Laviolette for a guaranteed $1700. Before the first game, legal action was initiated by the Nationals and an injunction was only lifted on the day of the first Canadiens game. Laviolette's other signings went much easier. Newsy Lalonde signed on December 14 and he reported the next day to complete the roster.
The team's first game was a win against Cobalt at home 7–6 in overtime, on January 5, 1910, but Laviolette’s first season with the Canadiens was not a successful one. Playing before tiny crowds at Jubilee Arena in the city’s East End, the all-francophone team won only two of the 12 games on that year’s schedule, finishing at the bottom of the heap in the seven-team NHA. After the season, the franchise was suspended and the NHA franchise was sold to George Kennedy (Georges Kendall). All of the players of 'Les Canadiens' went to Kennedy's organization.
Les Canadiens became known as the Montreal Canadiens, with Laviolette still running the team, and he handed the captaincy to Newsy Lalonde for the 1910-11 season and had it handed back to him the next year after Lalonde jumped to the Pacific Coast Hockey Association for the 1910-11 season.
Laviolette had signed Georges Vezina for the 1910-11 NHA season, and would convince Lalonde to come back to the Canadiens for the 1911-12 season.
With Laviolette, Lalonde and Pitre forming the forward line. They established the Canadiens trademark style of high-tempo playing distinguished by speed and finesse that so impressed the English sports writers that they began calling the Canadiens "The Flying Frenchmen"
The Canadiens had their first winning season in 1912-13. They tied the Toronto Blueshirts for first place in the NHA that year. In 1915-16, the Montreal Canadiens won the first of their 24 Stanley Cups, defeating the Portland Rosebuds in a best-of-five series. The veteran Laviolette, standing firm on the blue line, was one of the dozen players who each took home over $200 in bonus money that spring.
The following year, they represented the NHA in the Finals but lost to a Seattle team that became the first American club to hoist the Stanley Cup.
Laviolette helped the Canadiens with the 1916 and 1917 O'Brien Trophy as NHA Champions
Laviolette’s last season with the Montreal Canadiens was in 1917-18, which was also the team’s first in the newly-formed National Hockey League / NHL. He scored his 1st NHL goal on January 21, 1918 vs Clint Benedict of the Ottawa Senators.
Montreal would win the first half of the "1st NHL Season" and finish in 3rd during the second half.
Almost 40 years old, Jack Laviolette retired following the 1917-18 NHL season.
Laviolette played nine seasons for the Les Canadiens / Club de Hockey le Canadien / Montreal Canadiens and was their first captain, coach, and general manager.
While tuning a car for a planned tour of Quebec in the spring of 1918, Laviolette crashed and lost his right foot in the mishap. His playing days were over. A benefit game for Jack was arranged at the Mount Royal Arena during the winter of 1921. Not only was he the guest of honour but he also refereed the game.
Laviolette was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame as a lacrosse player in 1960.
Jack Laviolette was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.
Laviolette was inducted into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.