The NHL’s “Duke of Duluth”

Herb Lewis earned his “Duke of Duluth” nickname skating for the Duluth Hornets before he moved on to the NHL’s Detroit Redwings. (Image: Public Domain)

Thanks to Herbert A. Lewis, there is a Duke of Duluth in the National Hockey League’s Hall of Fame. Lewis, a native of Calgary, Alberta, joined professional hockey in 1921 at the tender age of 15, skating for the Calgary Hustlers. He played two years for the Hustlers and two more for the Calgary Canadiens before finding his way to the Zenith City to don a Duluth Hornets sweater in 1925. The left winger was a star in the Zenith City, and press in rival cities began calling him the “Duke of Duluth,” likely because of Shastid’s novel of the same name, published in 1926. When Lewis left to play for the Detroit Cougars in 1928, the nickname followed him.

In 1930, the Cougars changed their name to the Falcons, and two years later they became the Red Wings. Lewis became the team’s captain in 1933 and in 1934 played in the NHL’s first All-Star game. During his tenure with Detroit, he was part of a line that included right winger Larry Aurie and center Cooney Weiland, a threesome legendary Toronto Maple Leafs coach Conn Smythe called “the best line in hockey.” When Marty Barry replaced Weiland as the line’s center in 1935, they improved, leading Detroit to its first Stanley Cup championship in 1936—and its second in 1937.

Lewis left the Red Wings after the end of the 1938 season and joined with the Indianapolis Capitals as the team’s head coach, playing his first two years as well. After retiring Lewis moved to Pompano Beach, Florida, where he became a successful oil man. During his career, Lewis racked up 148 goals, 161 assists, and 309 points during 483 regular-season games, not including the 13 goals and 10 assists he racked up during 38 playoff games. In 1989 Lewis was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A playing card featuring a caricature of Herb “Duke of Duluth” Lewis. (Image: Public Domain)

Story by Tony Dierckins. Originally published on Zenith City Online (2012–2017). Click here for more stories by Tony Dierckins.