John Chick was a major factor in the construction of Windsor Arena. He exerted strong influence to bring professional hockey to Windsor for the 1926-27 season. Later, Chick was instrumental in the continued operation of North America’s hockey leagues during World War II.
Chick was born in Windsor on June 21, 1892. He passed away on April 13, 1961.
Chick was a pitcher for a team called the Anchors in the early days of baseball in the Windsor area. Through his Chick Construction Company, he famously organized and sponsored the Walkerville Chicks and Walkerville Chicklets Juniors, regionally famous baseball teams that won several championships in the late 1920s. Notably, the Chicklets and Chicks won the 1928 and ’29 Ontario Baseball Association Championships respectively. Chick also sponsored softball, football, and basketball teams.
When Windsor Arena opened on November 12, 1925, Chick was the facility’s Vice-President. Due in no small part to his efforts, the Canadian Professional Hockey League began operations in ’26-27 with franchises in Stratford, London, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, and Windsor.
Chick was Part Owner and General Manager of the professional Windsor Bulldogs, which won International Hockey League (IHL) Titles in 1929 and ’31. He was President of the IHL itself from 1930 to ’36.
During World War II, Chick served as a liaison officer between United States and Canadian federal authorities for all hockey players in the NHL and AHL. In this role, he took care of the relevant documentation to ensure that Canadian- and American-born players would be able to travel back and forth across the borders to compete. The so-called “Chick Line” proved very effective, which earned him the reputation as a saviour of wartime hockey. Notably, Chick also persuaded the two governments to release enough tires, buses, and gasoline to the teams so that hockey could continue uninterrupted.
Chick was an American Hockey League executive for more than a quarter of a century. He was Vice-President of the league from 1936-37 to ’53-54 and President from ’54-55 to ’56-57.
On April 14, 1961, the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Jim Coleman wrote, “If ever a man deserved a niche in Hockey’s Hall of Fame, he was John Digby Chick. Never has there been another man to whom so much was owed by the minor leagues in professional hockey.”