George McNeil

Picture courtesy of-Ice Hockey World

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1956.

Nova Scotia born George McNeil was an outstanding coach in the post-war Scottish National League.

A versatile defenceman and right-winger in his playing days, the ginger-haired six-footer arrived in London in 1936 to join the Richmond Hawks of the English National League. In that first season, he scored 8 goals and 3 assists and served 10 penalty minutes. He also iced four games that first season for the Brighton Tigers, before returning to the capital and the Earls Court Rangers for the following season.

McNeil ventured north to Scotland in 1938 to spend two seasons with the Dundee Tigers and twice finished in the league’s top ten points scorers with an (incomplete) total of 26 goals and 27 assists. After the Second World War, he rejoined Dundee, staying a further two seasons, but this time behind the bench as coach. In his second season as coach, the team won the Anderson Trophy as playoff champions and McNeil was voted coach of the All Star A-team.

From Dundee, he joined Falkirk Lions, combining the roles of coach and manager and whilst the team did not win the SNL crown, he repeated the Anderson Trophy success in his first two years, again in 1953/54 and won the Scottish Cup in 48/49. His coaching methods were so highly regarded that a run of four consecutive B-team selections followed, only broken by a year as a senior referee on the circuit at the request of the SIHA.

1954 was his final year as a coach, the same year that the English and Scottish leagues combined into the 12-member British National League. McNeil was not overawed by the strength of the opposition and guided Falkirk to runners-up in the Autumn Cup and a fourth place league finish – recognised by yet another B-team All Star coaching selection.

A spell as manger of the Falkirk rink ended as, together with his Dundee born wife Eveline, George McNeil moved to America in 1956. He stayed involved with the game he loved becoming a charter member of the NHL Philadelphia Flyers.

As well as his coaching successes, George McNeil will be remembered as a discoverer and developer of outstanding home grown talent with the junior Cubs. Players such as Thomas ‘Red’ Imrie, Bill Sneddon, Joe McIntosh and Marsh Key at Dundee are among many others whose future he helped and progress he followed.

George McNeil died in December 1997 in his Philadelphia home.

Compiled with research, provided

 by Martin C.Harris – July 1999.  

 
 

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