BIRTHPLACE: Hancock, Mich.
BORN: August 12, 1886
DIED: June 28, 1948
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: Portage Lake Hockey Club, Hancock Hockey Club, Shamrock Hockey Club, Duluth Curling Club, Duluth Hockey Club
Joe Linder was described by contemporaries and those who have made a study of the game as the “first great American-born hockey player.” A powerful raw-boned, virtually irresistible skater, playmaker, and team leader, Linder was involved in the American hockey scene as an amateur and professional player from 1904-1920. From then until his death in 1948, he remained on the scene as a coach, manager, and sponsor of the game in the Superior-Duluth area. During his Hancock High School years, 1901-04, Linder participated in and starred in hockey, baseball, and football, even captaining all three sports every year of his career.
In 1904, as a high school senior, he was selected by Doc Gibson, a charter United States Hockey Hall of Fame enshrine, to play on the Portage Lake Michigan hockey teams in league and championship play. Following a brief stay in the professional ranks, Linder returned to amateur hockey from 1905-11, playing in the Copper Country in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
He later took a team into the new American Amateur Hockey Association playing out of Duluth from 1912-20. The Linder-captained team reached its greatest heights on March 7, 1914, when they defeated the famous Victoria’s of Winnipeg for what proved to be the first victory of an American team over the Canadian champs. In the game write-up a sports reporter said, “Capt. Joe Linder played like a veritable demon. On offense and defense Linder stood out as one of the greatest men I have ever seen on ice.”
Shortly after his retirement as an active player, Linder entered the grocery business in Superior, Wisconsin. He remained active in the “Head of the Lakes” business and sports community in his later years. A few years before his death, he was honored in the February 1941 issue of Esquire, when in a review of the American and Canadian hockey scene, it was stated that “any list of the 30 best hockey players the whole world has had, would have to include the American-born Linder.