Firsts were foremost for Johnny Sheppard during his tenure with the Detroit Cougars.
The skilled left-winger was the first member of the Detroit organization to pull on the famous No. 9 jersey and with 13-8-21 totals in 1926-27, was the first player to lead the club in all three categories. He also led the team with 60 penalty minutes that inaugural campaign and he and Ted Lindsay are the only players in franchise history to top the club in scoring and penalty minutes in the same season.
The 1927-28 season saw Sheppard complete a famous Detroit first when he put a shot past Ottawa Senators goalie Alex Connell November 22, 1927 to score the first goal in the history of the Olympia. Another first was achieved in the season opener this season, November 15 at Pittsburgh, when Johnny and younger brother Frank Sheppard became the first brother combination to perform for the team.
Purchased from the Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Hockey League, the elder Sheppard was a bundle of speed, energy and courage. Called "Wee Johnny" due to his diminutive 5-foot-7, 165-pound frame, Sheppard was a rugged competitor who once worked as a trapper near the Arctic Circle. The deadly finisher possessed blazing speed on his skates.
Sheppard's talents also made him a marketable commodity and when new manager Jack Adams found he'd gathered an excess of offensive talent with newcomers George Hay, Carson Cooper and Larry Aurie all joining Sheppard in reaching double digits in the goal column in 1927-28, he moved the latter to the New York Americans prior to the following season, acquiring center Bobby Connors, $12,500 and the rights to promising amateur Ebbie Goodfellow for Sheppard.
The deal seemed one-sided at the time, but Goodfellow would become a Hall of Fame performer for Detroit and won the club's first Hart Trophy in 1940.
Even in departure, Sheppard managed to engineer another first for the team.
Montreal, Que., July 3, 1903
Contract Purchased October 5, 1926 from Edmonton (WHL)
BEST SEASON WITH RED WINGS:
TOTALS WITH RED WINGS:
GP-87, G-23, A-18, PTS-41
Led Detroit in goals, assists, points and penalty minutes in 1926-27; Scored the first goal at the Olympia