Michael J. Rodden
One of the greatest all-round athletes and most successful men of sports in Canada, Mike Rodden was most proud not of his feats on the football field or on ice but for running the Island Rapids on the Abitibi River, the most feared stretch of water in all of Canada.
Rodden played all sports as a youth, entering University of Ottawa where he won the junior boxing title. He graduated without having lost it. In 1906 he enrolled at Queen’s University, graduating in 1910. During those four years he earned 15 letters in football and hockey, a record that endures to this day. In football, he has the added distinction in making the all-star team each year–at a different position each time!
Rodden’s many careers were forever crossing over. As a referee, he adjudicated almost 3,000 games, including 1,187 in the NHL. He also claimed to have discovered 32 players who went on to play in the league, notably Nels Stewart, Babe Siebert, and Toe Blake. In football, he coached teams to 27 different titles, including the Hamilton Tigers to back-to-back Grey Cup championships in 1928 and ’29 (he had played for the Argonauts in 1919). He also coached at the University of Toronto Schools for 17 years.
Rodden entered journalism in 1918, working for the Toronto Globe for a decade before becoming the sports editor. He left in 1936 to assume that position for the Kingston Whig-Standard and stayed on until 1944, writing a weekly column thereafter for many years still.
His inductions into the Hockey Hall (as a referee) in 1962 and the Football Hall two years later made him the only man to achieve that double for many years. He was affectionately called “Dom Miguel” by his peers and friends. Rodden was also well respected as a boxing referee, but perhaps it was that over the years his greatest skill was his ability for recall–he had the memory of an elephant. Through it all was his wife, Millie, who accompanied him almost everywhere and was as visible at the arena or field as was Mike.