James Norris became a legend in the NHL, but not for what he did on the ice ... for what he built.
Born in a suburb of Montreal, Norris played hockey but became successful as a grain broker.
He had strong business ties to Chicago and tried to bring a second franchise to the city to compete with the Chicago Blackhawks, which he felt was an inferior operation.
Unable to get a team in Chicago, Norris bought Olympia Stadium and the Falcons franchise in 1933. He immediately changed the team name to the Red Wings and began building a champion.
With Jack Adams as coach, Norris purchased Scotty Bowman and Syd Howe from the St. Louis Eagles.
The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1936 and were the first American franchise to repeat as champions in 1937.
Norris cared so much about the team that he was later forced to avoid games because of a heart condition. Under his guidance, the Red Wings franchise became one of the most successful in the NHL.
After Norris’ death in 1952, his daughter Marguerite became the first woman president of an NHL franchise.
The Norris family donated a trophy to the NHL in honor of James E. Norris to be awarded to the top defenseman in the league. It was first awarded in 1954 to the Red Wings’ Red Kelly.
Norris was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958 as a builder, and the NHL named one of its four divisions after Norris in 1974.
Information from the Hockey Hall of Fame was included in this report.