During his amateur hockey career, Dick Irvin starred with the Winnipeg Monarchs and was with the club when they defeated the Melville Millionaires to win the 1915 Allan Cup. One of the highlights of Irvin's amateur career was his nine goal performance in the Monarchs' 9-2 win over an eastern team during an exhibition match in Toronto.
After serving overseas during the Great War, Irvin turned professional with the Regina Caps and remained with the club for three years. In 1925, he joined the Portland Rosebuds of the Pacific Coast Hockey League and was the scoring leader with 30 goals in 30 games. In 1926, the Rosebuds became the Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League and Irvin was their first captain. Irvin finished behind Bill Cook of the New York Rangers in N.H.L. scoring with 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points. In the 1927-28 season, Irvin suffered a fractured skull and although he played sporadically for the Black Hawks for the next two seasons, he was never again the same prolific scorer.
Irvin became the coach of the Black Hawks in 1930 but was fired at the end of the season by Major McLaughlin, the eccentric owner of the club. Irvin received a call from Conn Smythe to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs and led the team to the Stanley Cup during his nine year reign. In the 1940-41 season, Irvin was appointed coach of the Montreal Canadiens and in fifteen years led the team to three Stanley Cups. In 1955-56, Irvin returned to Chicago but retired at the end of the season. He was elected to the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame and was the all-time leader for games coached in the N.H.L., with 1,467, of which he won 690. In his 26 years of coaching, Irvin's teams entered the playoffs on 24 occasions, a truly remarkable achievement.
James Dickinson is also a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame and Tribune Sports Hall of Fame.