Let's Learn From the Past: Herb Drury

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With the XXII Olympic Winter Games set to open Friday in Sochi, Russia, the National Hockey League's top players will once again compete for gold on behalf of their respective nations.

While Penguins superstars such as Sidney Crosby (Canada) and Evgeni Malkin (Russia) will lead their teams in 2014, Canadian native Herb Drury set the standard for Pittsburgh professional ice hockey players in the Olympics with his stellar performances more than 90 years ago.

Born in Midland, Ontario, in 1895, Drury came to Pittsburgh in 1916 to play for the Yellow Jackets at Duquesne Gardens. Following military service in World War I, he represented the United States as a naturalized citizen in the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, where hockey was added to the existing summer sports. Although the U.S. lost to Canada in the finals, Drury returned to the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets as a silver medalist.

In 1924, Drury headed for the outdoor rink in Chamonix, France, to compete in the first Winter Olympic Games. As the 258 athletes from 16 countries paraded through the streets of the French town as part of the opening ceremonies, Drury carried the U.S. flag for his adopted country.

The scrappy defenseman had an incredible offensive run in frigid conditions, as he scored an astounding 22 goals and notched three assists for 25 points in just five games. He would ultimately score the only U.S. goal in the gold medal game in a losing effort against his native Canada.

With his second silver medal in hand, Drury returned to Pittsburgh and signed with the new National Hockey League team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, in 1925.

He played for the Pirates for five years until the 1929-30 season. Drury played 213 games in his NHL career, but he will always be remembered for his high-scoring performance in the first Winter Games in 1924. Drury lived in Pittsburgh until his death in 1965.

Visitors to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center can view Drury's 1924 silver medal and scrapbook documenting his career. For more information, visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org.

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