Sunday

Keith Carney

Keith Carney was an honest, basic defenseman who made up for a lack of foot speed with his uncanny ability to take the shortest path to the action. The cerebral rearguard was like a world-class pool player on the ice - he knew all the angles of the game.

"Carney is so smart positionally," said San Jose analyst Drew Remenda. "He's been in the league for so long and he knows the ice. I've always thought that he was one of the most underrated guys in the league because he knows the ice well, knows the angles well, and is a physical player."

This came as no surprise to his teammates, especially the goalies who he helped out all night long.

"What he is able to do out there, most people would never notice," said Jean Sebastien Giguere, his teammate in Anaheim. "He’s always calm and patient with the puck. He never seems to get rattled."

Steady and consistent play were hallmarks of Carney’s career even before he became an NHL pro. For three seasons, the blueliner from Providence, Rhode Island was a major contributor at the University of Maine, logging significant ice time in each of his years with the Black Bears.

Dependable and durable, the strong jawed Carney caught the eye of scouts as the young kid with veteran poise that would be a sought after addition on any NHL club. The Buffalo Sabres got a steal when they picked him 76th overall back in 1988.

So why was Carney passed over until pick No. 76? For the same reasons he was overlooked much of his career.

Carney had no flash to his game at all. He was hard working "hockey player's hockey player" who was almost as unassuming on the ice as he was off of it. His skating limited his offensive game, and, despite good size at 6'1" and 220lbs, he was never a punishing bodychecker.

What he was a dependable and composed defenseman who rarely made a mistake in his own zone. He could be counted on heavily while defending a lead in the third period or in key situations like a penalty kill. Coaches love players like Carney because they know exactly what they will get from him and can trust him to get the job done.

Carney never really had a chance to play in Buffalo but he became a NHL regular in 1994 when he joined the Chicago Blackhawks. Over the next 5 years he established his reputation as a journeyman defender, often pairing along side Chris Chelios.

He would move on to play in Phoenix and Anaheim, where he may have gained his greatest fame for his strong play in the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs. He made brief appearances in Vancouver, Minnesota and Bern, Switzerland before retiring in 2009.

Keith Carney played in 1018 NHL games, scoring 45 career goals, 183 assists and 228 points.

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Monday

Val Hoffinger

Who was the first Russian born player in the history of the National Hockey League? Here's a hint: it is not one of more modern Soviet players.

A lot of people believe the answer to be Chicago's Johnny Gottselig, who was born in Odessa, Russia but raised in Canada. Gottselig starred in the NHL from 1928 through 1945.

But the correct answer is another Chicago defenseman named Val Hoffinger. Hoffinger was born in Seltz, Russia but also raised in Canada. He only played in 28 games in the NHL, but he debuted in the 1927-28 season, beating Gottselig by just a smidge.

Hoffinger's life is quite the interesting story. He was certainly well travelled.

Born in Russia on New Year's day in 1903, he grew up in Salvador, Saskatchewan

Val Hoffinger will always be known as one of the most colourful athletes to come from Saskatchewan. Born on January 1, 1903, Hoffinger grew up in Salvador, Saskatchewan. He starred for the Saskatoon Sheiks before turning pro.

Unfortunately for Hoffinger, circumstances kept him in various minor hockey leagues and cities rather than the NHL. He did appear in 28 NHL contests, scoring just 1 lonely assist.

After retiring as a player in 1935  Hoffinger accepted a high paying offer to coach the German Olympic hockey team for the 1936 Olympics. He enjoyed coaching in Germany, but never intended on staying, especially given  the circumstances developing at that time.

The problem for Hoffinger was he was not allowed to take any of his earnings out of the country. So he decided he would leave with an education. He studied chiropody, better known today as podiatry, and became a foot doctor.

When Hoffinger returned to Canada in 1939 he open his practice in Toronto. Hoffinger became a foot doctor of the stars, so to speak, as he was the personal foot doctor to several movie stars including someone named Danny Kaye.

More interesting than that Hoffinger later married Bernice Scholls, daughter of the famous Dr. Scholls, and together they inherited the entire Scholls company.

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Thursday

Ron Murphy



Ron Murphy was a useful utility forward for nearly 900 NHL games. He was a Stanley Cup champion (1961) and a Memorial Cup champion (1952). But fans remember him mostly for an infamous and vicious stick-swinging incident with Montreal's Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.

Murphy was just a youngster at the time, 20 years old and with the New York Rangers. The Rangers beat the visiting Habs 3-1 on the night of December 20, 1953, but the most memorable part of that game came in the second period.  Boom Boom Geoffrion took a two-handed swing with his stick, striking Murphy on the left side of his face, breaking his jaw and leaving him with a concussion. Murphy was also guilty of swinging his stick, though he never made contact thanks in part to the linesman holding on to this stick with one hand.

Geoffrion, who actually missed Murphy on his first swing but attacked again, was suspended for five games, as well as for any further matches between the two teams that season including the playoffs. Murphy, who shockingly got up and skated off the ice on his own that night, missed the remainder of the season.

Murphy obviously survived the incident and did return to the NHL. He went on to a lengthy career playing in 889 regular season games with the Rangers, Chicago, Detroit and Boston. He scored 205 goals, 274 assists and 479 points.

“Ron can skate and he plays good positional hockey,” said Ranges' teammate Harry Howell. “He was one of those players who seemed to get around 10 to 15 goals a year and never better."

As Howell later noted, Murphy's best years came in Chicago.

“But he really changed when he went to Chicago three years ago,” Howell continued. “He told me he was never happier."

Murphy played a nice role on Chicago's Stanley Cup winning team in 1961. He scored a career high 21 goals that year.

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Saturday

Art Wiebe

For 10 seasons and over 400 NHL games Art Wiebe quietly patrolled the Chicago Blackhawks blue line. More often than not he and Earli Seibert formed an effective pairing.

From 1934 through 1944 Wiebe diligently took care of his own zone, rarely contributing much offensively. He scored a grand total of just 14 goals and 41 points in his career. 

Wiebe was also an excellent golfer and curler, winning amateur championships in both. After hanging up the blades Wiebe became the president of an oil drilling company while tending to his farm in Vermillion, Alberta. He originally retired from hockey to run a bakery in Vermillion.

Wiebe succumbed to cancer in 1971 at the age of 59.

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Red Mitchell

World War II commitments depleted a lot of NHL rosters during the early 1940s. That opened up jobs for minor league players as fill-ins.

The Chicago Blackhawks blue line was particularly ravaged, and they sought out the help of veteran minor league tough guys like Leo Corbal, Joe Matte and Bill "Red" Mitchell among others.

Mitchell may have been the best of the bunch as he played in parts of three seasons, including most of the 1942-43 and 1944-45 seasons in Chicago. The Toronto born Mitchell scored 4 goals and 9 points in 82 career NHL games, along with a fairly quiet 67 PIMs.

Mitchell had previously led AHA in PIMs in 1938-39 and finished in the top 4 leaders on 5 total occasions.


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Joe Matte

Like long time St. Louis Flyers teammate Joe Carbol, Joe Matte finally got a chance to play in the NHL in 1942-43 thanks to World War II.

Both Matte and Carbol got their only games in the NHL thanks to the Hawks depleted blue line due to World War II. Matte appeared in 12 games, picking up 2 assists.

Bourget, Ontario's Joe Matte, the father of NFL football player Tom Matte, should not be not confused with Vankleek Hill, Ontario's Joe Matte. That Joe Matte also played in the National Hockey League a good decade earlier.

Joe Matte suffered from emphysema and died in Los Angeles in 1988.

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Leo Carbol

Ottawa's Leo Carbol was a long time defenseman with the St. Louis Flyers of the American Hockey Association. After bouncing around the minor league circuit early in his career, Carbol played parts of 12 seasons in St. Louis in the 1930s and 1940s

This minor leaguer was finally given a shot in the NHL in 1942-43 when the Chicago Blackhawks needed someone to fill in on their depleted blue line. World War II was in full swing and many hockey players including NHLers were helping the Allies war efforts. This opened up NHL jobs for long time minor leaguers like Carbol.

Carbol's cup of coffee in the NHL was short and sweet. He played in just six games and picked up 1 assist before he, too, was summoned by the war. He proudly served as a sergeant with the US Army's Air Corps.

The physical defender returned to St. Louis after the war and worked for a packing company for many years.

Leo Carbol passed away at the age of 81 on November 13th, 1991.

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Phil Hergesheimer

Phil Hergesheimer was a high scoring American Hockey Leaguer for many seasons who also played in 125 NHL games in partial seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins from 1939 to 1943.

Nicknamed Phantom for his magical ability to appear from nowhere when a scoring chance became possible, the Winnipeg native became prominent in the late 1930s with the AHL's Cleveland Barons/Falcons. The AHL was the best league aside from the NHL at the time, and Phil was an All Star who led the league in goals in both the 1937-38 season (25 goals) and 1938-39 season (34 goals).

By 1939-40 the world was at war in World War II. The NHL too was effected as many of its players enlisted in the army to fight for their country. The NHL talent pool was becoming increasingly thin as many players began enlisting. This was good news for players like Phil Hergesheimer as he got the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League.

The Blackhawks acquired Hergesheimer in 1939 from Cleveland and Phil would play all but 3 of his 125 NHL games in the Windy City. He spent the entire 1939-40 and 1940-41 seasons with the Hawks but by 1941-42 was used sparingly, and eventually loaned to the Bruins where he appeared in 3 games. He was returned the following season but only appeared in 9 games before being demoted back to the AHL where he would finish the season and the next one, before he too served military time.

Phil scored 21 goals and 41 assists for 62 points. He also appeared in 6 NHL playoff games.

Upon his return from military service in 1945, Phil would play 6 more seasons in the AHL, 4 times being named an All Star.

The 5'10" 175lb right winger retired from pro hockey to play senior hockey in the British Columbian interior, first in Kelowna and later in Kamloops.

Phil's brother Wally was a more prominent NHLer, playing throughout the 50's with New York and Chicago for 351 games.

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Aud Tuten

Audley Kendrick "Tut" Tuten may have had an "Aud" name. But this Chicago Blackhawks defenseman during the World War II years had an even odder birthplace for a hockey player - Enterprise, Alabama!

Well this Alabama Slammer grew up in Saskatchewan, which explains his love for the game on ice. He graduated from the Saskatoon Tigers and Regina Pats to play a lengthy professional hockey career, mostly in the minor leagues.

Tuten played primarily in Hershey and Kansas City of the AHL and it's predecessor the EAHL. Three times in four years he led the league in penalty minutes, giving us a hint at his preferred style of play.

During World War II NHL rosters were depleted by the call to join the military, which allowed minor league vets like Tuten a chance to play in the big leagues. The Chicago Blackhawks twice came calling for Tuten's services. In 1941-42 he played 5 games, scoring 1 goal and 1 assists. The following year he played most of the season in Chicago, scoring 3 goals and 10 points in 34 games.

After his stint in the NHL Tuten found himself sent to the west coast to play in the PCHL. He suited up with Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland, later serving as a referee.

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George "Wingy" Johnston

This is George "Wingy" Johnston. He played parts of 4 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks during the World War II years, but is best known as a hockey legend in Washington state.

Johnston played in a total of 58 NHL games, scoring 20 goals and 32 points. But he was a scoring sensation in the minor leagues, making stops Providence, Kansas City and New Haven.

But it was in Washington state where he found his true hockey home. Starting in 1948 he starred for years with the Tacoma Rockets of the PCHL. His most productive professional season came in 1949-50 with the Tacoma Rockets, when he teamed on a line with Ronnie Rowe and Melvin Reed. Johnston had 46 goals and 90 points that year.

Johnston, who did serve in World War II with the Canadian Air Force (based primarily in Vancouver area base), moved to Spokane in 1953 and played as a playing-coach a couple more years. He would live in Spokane until his death in 2006, remaining active in hockey in the community. He worked for years as the Spokane Chiefs (WHL) statistician while also coaching and promoting the Spokane alumni hockey teams. He did all this while working for Wonder Bread, specializing in cake shipping.

Johnston also ran a hockey school in Nanaimo, British Columbia for a period of time.

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Sunday

Michel Dumas

Chicago goaltender Michel Dumas recorded a shutout in his first NHL game despite playing only one minute of action!

Dumas was summoned from the minor leagues to back up Tony Esposito for Chicago's game against the Atlanta Flames on February 23rd, 1975. The Hawks, with Tony O in net, held a firm 4-0 lead when Esposito's glove developed a tear. In those days referees didn't allow stoppages for such equipment repairs. The back up goaltender had to come in.

So Dumas went in, for about a minute, and then returned to the bench when Esposito's glove was mended. But because Dumas played that one minute, he shared a shutout with Esposito in Dumas' very first NHL game!

Dumas was a minor league standout who never got a chance to fulfill his potential in the NHL. He suffered a career ending eye injury in 1976. He played in only 8 NHL games in his career.

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Tuesday

Murray Balfour

Murray Balfour was a clutch scorer and Stanley Cup champion. He was also a tragic figure, dying while still playing the game. He was just 28 years old.

A junior sensation with his hometown Regina Pats, Balfour was originally Montreal Canadiens property. They couldn't find him a regular spot in the line-up during their dynastic years in the late 1950s, so by 1960 he was shipped off to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Montreal's loss was definitely Chicago's game. Together with fellow Montreal castoff Bill Hay, Balfour joined Bobby Hull on the Blackhawks top line. It was almost instant magic. They high flying and highly paid threesome were quickly dubbed the Million Dollar Line.

By 1961 the resurrected Hawks went all the way to become the Stanley Cup champions! It was Balfour who scored the triple over time game winner in game 3 against his former mates in Montreal. Balfour also scored more goals than both of his linemates that spring.

Unfortunately Balfour missed out on the Stanley Cup celebrations. He missed the final game as he was hung up in the hospital with a broken arm after crashing into the net in game five. An 8 inch steel rod was inserted from his wrist to his elbow to repair the badly broken limb.

The broken arm didn't slow Balfour down, but inexplicable fatigue did. The Hawks traded Balfour to Boston in 1964, and the Bruins ended up demoting him to the minor leagues shortly thereafter. Balfour's constant struggles with fatigue were finally diagnosed in 1965 when doctors discovered a cancerous tumour in his lung.

Doctors decided the cancer was so aggressive that there was nothing they could do for Murray Balfour. He died several weeks later while recuperating back at his parent's home in Saskatchewan. He was just 28 years old.

In 306 NHL games Murray Balfour scored 67 goals, 90 assists and 157 points. He should be remembered as a hearty and enthusiastic winger who scored clutch goals.

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Moose Vasko



Elmer Vasko was a fan favorite in Chicago, as fans used to chant "Moooose!" when he touched the puck.

''I used to think they were booing me. Now I know they want me to go out and do my best. It's great to be wanted!'' Vasko once said.

Moose Vasko got his nickname for rather obvious reasons. When he broke into the NHL in the late 1950s, the 6'2" 200lb defenseman was as big as they came back then. He wasn't particularly mean spirited but he certainly knew how to use his size to his advantage.

The long time Chicago Blackhawks player and one time captain was a classic stay at home defenseman, often paired with the slick and outstanding Pierre Pilote. Think Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.

Vasko overcame early shoulder trouble to establish himself as one of the top defensemen of the 1960s. In 1963 he finished fourth in Norris trophy balloting, and in 1964 he finished third. Both years he was named to the NHL's post-season All Star Team.

Those were great years for Vasko, but it was 1961 that he would cherish the most. That was the year the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. The 1950s were lean times in the Windy City, but thanks to the play of the likes of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Pilote and Vasko, the Hawks emerged as the best team in all of hockey. They remained good throughout the 1960s, but that generation of Hawks never won the Stanley Cup again.

Vasko would play until 1966 when he temporarily retired. In 1967 the expansion Minnesota North Stars convinced him to return to the ice. He played two more years in the NHL, serving as team captain and representing the North Stars in the NHL All Star Game in 1969.

Vasko, one of the earliest NHLers of Slovak descent, was born December 11th 1935, in Duparquet, Quebec. In 786 regular season NHL games he scored 34 goals and 166 assists for 200 points. He added 719 PIMs. In 72 playoff games he scored 2 goals and 9 points with 73 penalty minutes.

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Monday

Bert Gardiner


This is goalie in the unconventional pose is Bert Gardiner. After several years in the 1930s of starring with the Philadelphia Ramblers, a New York Rangers farm team. Gardiner only played in a handful of games with the Rangers before finally getting his NHL chance in 1940 with Montreal. In 1942 he played a season as the Chicago Blackhawks starting goaltender, followed by a run with the Boston Bruins in 1943-44.

All told Bert Gardiner played 144 NHL games with a 49-68-27 record and 4 shutouts. 

If history has remembered Gardiner at all it as the New York Rangers goalie who gave up three overtime game winning goals to Mel "Sudden Death" Hill in the same 1939 playoff series. That included Hill's epic triple overtime tally in game 7. 

Gardiner was also a heck of a tennis player. In fact, he is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame for tennis!

Gardiner passed away in 2001, suffering a stroke near Los Angeles.

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Friday

Pete Conacher

Hockey is a family game, and there have been a number of great families in hockey history. The Patricks, The Sutters, The Richards, The Hulls, The Hextalls......and The Conachers.

The Conacher legend started way back in the 1920s and 1930s when three brothers - Lionel, Charlie and Roy - embarked upon great careers that would be capped with inductions into the Hockey Hall of Fame. That wasn't the end of the Conacher legend though as Lionel's son Brian and Charlie's son Pete also made it to the NHL.

Pete Conacher was born and grew up in Toronto where his father starred in with the Maple Leafs for nine seasons.

His journey to the NHL began with the Galt Blackhawks of the OHA, where he played three seasons of junior hockey. In his last year of junior Pete lit up the OHA with 53 goals in 51 games, plus 120 points. Those are pretty unworldly stats nowadays, but even more so back then. He was rewarded for his fine season with a two game call up to Chicago late in the season. Conacher even recorded his first NHL point, an assist.

With his family ties and great season in Galt, you might have expected that there would be lots of pressure and expectations placed upon the small left winger. However that wasn't quite the case.

"I guess I probably felt a little bit of pressure. My dad, being Charlie, and then Lionel and Roy, but I never felt pressure from my teammates or management. I never felt pressure from them. I think if I felt pressure, it was just because I put it on myself. And more pressure from fans than teammates or management."

Pete coped with the pressure by simply playing hockey because he loved the game, not because he wanted to be star like his dad and uncles. It paid off for Pete as he enjoyed a 15 year professional career, 6 of which were in the National Hockey League.

Conacher split his rookie year between the St. Louis Flyers of the American Hockey League and Chicago as he collected 11 points in 41 games with the Blackhawks. It was somewhat disappointing that Pete wasn't able to step right into the Chicago lineup. The Hawks were looking for some help and counted on Pete's scoring touch that he showed the year earlier in Galt. However Pete did make the NHL on a full time basis one year later, scoring 19 goals and 28 points in 70 games in 1953-54.

Conacher started off the 1954-55 campaign slowly, collecting 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points in 18 games. Unlike his father and uncles, there was concern that Pete was too small to play in the NHL. His lack of size and strength made him an easy target to knock off the puck and thus limited his gifted puck handling and skating abilities. The Hawks traded young Pete, still considered to be a good NHL prospect, with superstar defenseman Bill Gadsby in a blockbuster deal with the New York Rangers. Chicago got Rich Lamoureux, Allan Stanley and Nick Mickoski in return. Pete finished the year with 23 points between the two clubs and played one more season with the Rangers.

Part way through the 1956-56 season was demoted to the AHL's Buffalo Bisons where he would play 4 of the next 5 seasons. In the meantime the Rangers gave Conacher's rights to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for cash. During the 1957-58 season Pete was called up by the Leafs and played what proved to be his final 5 NHL games. Collecting one assist, it was only fitting that Pete's NHL career come to a close in the same city that his father starred in for years.

"That was an entirely different feeling putting on the Leaf uniform because I was from Toronto and because my dad had played in Toronto and had made his reputation in Toronto. So that was a little different. I felt a lot of pressure."

The following season Pete spent with with the Belleville McFarlands, a club that went on to represent Canada in the 1959 World Championships where they captured the gold medal. It was a career highlite for Pete.

"Well that was a thrill for me to be with the Belleville McFarlands in 1959 and winning the World Championship in Prague. I was in the Stanley Cup playoffs a couple times and I was in the American League playoffs six years with Hershey. I wasn't on a championship team but we had good teams."

Since retiring from professional hockey in 1966, Pete went on to work as a stock broker at the Toronto Stock Exchange. Pete's career NHL statistics included 47 goals and 86 points in 229 regular season games.

Pete is very proud of his family's history in Canadian sports.

"Well, quite honestly, I'm very proud of the family and the family name and what they accomplished in hockey. I think this past November, when the National Hockey League inducted Roy Conacher into the Hall of Fame, I think it was 41 years after he played his last game in the National Hockey League, but then to go in alongside of his two brothers, Lionel and my dad, Charlie, to have three brothers in the Hall of Fame, I think is quite an accomplishment. I don't know if that's happened anywhere else in any Hall of Fame. And then with my uncle Lionel's reputation as an all-round athlete, Canada's male athlete of the half century, there's a lot to be proud of and I'm proud of the family."

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Thursday

Adam Brown

Born in Johnstone, Scotland but raised in Canada, Adam Brown was dubbed in hockey circles as "The Flying Scotsman." But hard hitting Hall of Fame defenseman Bill Gadsby always remembered Brown for the night he sent a Frenchman flying.

Here's the story, as told in Stan Fischler's Hockey Encyclopedia:

"Brown hit Montreal's little Norm Dussault about one-third of the way in from the boards. 'Dussaults stick flew into the crowd,' Gadsby said. 'So did one of his gloves. And the other glove flew about 30 feet down the ice. The best thing about it was the way Brown stood over him with his chest out, looking like Tarzan, and Dussault lying flat on the ice.'"

Brown play mainly with Detroit and Chicago in the 1940s. It's too bad that hit did not make it on the rare video feeds back then. It would be a YouTube hit nowadays for sure!

Brown, who also briefly played with Boston, was the father of Andy Brown, the last NHL goaltender to play without a mask. Brown also is the answer to a unique trivia question. On October 16th, 1946 he set up the first ever career goal by Gordie Howe.

All told, Adam Brown played in 391 NHL games, scoring 104 goals and 113 assists for a respectable 217 points. Twice he topped the 20 goal mark.

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Chris Chelios


Chris Chelios was a skating contradiction. On one hand he was no-nonsense S.O.B but on the other he was a sentimental sap.

Chelios has fused these two character traits into a Hall of Fame hockey career. His emotional passion for hockey has created a hockey resume that leaves most jealous: A Stanley Cup championship with Montreal in 1986 and two more in Detroit in 2002 and 2008. Three Norris Trophies, four first-team NHL All-Star selections and eleven appearances in the All-Star game. He was the first American born defenseman to win the Norris Trophy. He became the first blueliner in Hawks history to lead his team in scoring. He also participated in Canada Cups, World Cups and in four Olympics.

You get no argument here that he is the greatest American born hockey player ever.

It certainly wasn't an easy journey to the NHL for the Chicago-born Chelios. His father came to Chicago from Greece and became somewhat of a rink rat at the old Chicago Stadium. His love for the game was passed on to Chris. Chelios started playing hockey in high school but by the age of 15 his family moved to San Diego.

Needless to say there wasn't many hockey opportunities in San Diego. He tried out for the University of San Diego hockey team but didn't make the team! He had all this raw ability but never had any coaching. So Chris left home and ventured to Canada. He eventually wound up in Moose Jaw. Playing under coach Larry Billows, Chelios showed great improvement over 2 years in Moose Jaw. He also caught the eye of the Canadiens, who picked him 40th overall in the 1981 draft.

He honed it further at University of Wisconsin and later with the United States National Team that represented the country at the 1984 Olympics. The Canadiens were very patient with their diamond in the rough and didn't rush him. He joined the Habs following the Olympics

Chelios spent seven seasons with Montreal, learning from the likes of Rick Green, Larry Robinson and Jacques Laperriere.

"Those were great years," Chelios says. "I listened and learned a lot."

Chelios developed a reputation as a talented and tireless player--logging heavy ice time--but was someone who had a hot temper and often took a stupid penalty. Entering the 1996-97 season, Chelios ranked 32nd all-time with 1,926 penalty minutes.

Chelios was traded to the Hawks on June 29, 1990, for Denis Savard, a move that proved mostly unpopular at the time because of Savard's popularity.

It was tough for Chelios to accept too.

``I should be the happiest guy in the world, but I`m really very sad about leaving Montreal,`` Chelios said. ``But it was once my dream to play in Chicago.``

Despite losing their favorite player in Savard, Hawks fans quickly embraced the fiery Chelios and his leadership abilities emerged. Soon enough he was named captain -- an honor he held with Montreal as well -- for the 1995-96 season.

Chelios never has taken his NHL job for granted. And he loved to play for Chicago. Before long he sounded totally different than the day he first arrived in Chicago.

"Every time I look back and see the position I'm in -- every single game -- I'm just as excited as I was the first game I ever played in," Chelios says. "I'm fortunate to be playing in my hometown and to be playing for the Blackhawks. To me, it's a great honor to play in the NHL and especially for the Blackhawks."

Sadly, the rebuilding Blackhawks traded Chelios on March 23, 1999 to the Detroit Red Wings. Chelios was aging and looking for a contract extension that the Hawks weren't willing to give.

"Never in my life did I imagine I would leave the Blackhawks and play for another team," an emotional Chelios said "It's not what I wanted."

Chelios in a Red Wings jersey soon did look right. He played in the Motor City for 10 more seasons, winning Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008.

Towards the end of the decade Chelios, an extreme fitness nut, openly mused with the idea of playing into his 50s, bettering Gordie Howe's amazing record of playing until the age of 52. His ice time was severely cut in Detroit, so in 2009-10 he moved on to Atlanta hoping to extend his career. But he could not make the lowly Thrashers team, playing in just 7 games and spending the rest of the season in the minor leagues.

It may have been a whimper of an end for one of hockey's greatest warriors. But he played on, for the love of the game.

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Saturday

Ty Jones

Tyler Jones left a pretty unnoticeable footprint on the history of the National Hockey League. He played in 14 games, split between Chicago and Florida.

A member of the 1998 Stokane Chiefs Memorial Cup winning team, there was a time when he was considered to be a pretty good prospect. Chicago drafted him in the 1st round, selected 16th overall, in 1997.

But he never really caught on. Then in 2002 he missed much of the season with a terrible shoulder injury, thanks a hockey fight. He missed 6 months after doctors put six screws into his shoulder.

That is when his story becomes really interesting. Norfolk coach Trent Yawney suggested he may be entitled to workers' compensation. He applied, was denied and challenged the system through the court system.

The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld a Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission finding that ''fighting is an integral part of the game of hockey'' and that American Ty Jones' injury arose in the course of his employment as an ''enforcer.''

Neither the court system nor the compensation board ever released how much money he was entitled to.

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Sunday

Al Dewsbury

The Chicago Blackhawks were not a very good team in the 1950s. They were so bad that the NHL invoked a couple of reinforcement plans, having teams send players to Chicago to prop them up.

Al "Dews" Dewsbury, pictured to the right, was part of such a plan. On July 13th, 1950 Detroit traded Dewsbury along with Harry Lumley, Jack Stewart, Don Morrison and Pete Babando for Jim Henry, Bob Goldham, Gaye Stewart and Metro Prystai. Dewsbury was still basically just a farmhand in Detroit at the time, though he did play 4 playoff games in the spring of 1950, helping the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.

The move to Chicago was a good one for Dewsbury, as he gained regular NHL employment in Chicago over the next 4 and a half seasons. The big, 6'2" 200lb blueliner totalled 357 NHL games, scoring 30 goals, 78 assists and 108 points. He was a notable physical and intimidating defender. He had 365 PIMs in his career.

Al Dewsbury will go down in history as a forgotten NHLer from hockey's glory days. Hopefully GreatestHockeyLegends.com has played a small role in preserving his memory.

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Ray Powell

This is Ray Powell, a lanky offensive minded center. He only played 31 NHL games, all with Chicago in the 1950-51 season. But he was a long time hockey player blessed with speed and passing ability. Tall and wiry at 6'0" and 160lbs, he probably was a bit of 1950s version of Wayne Gretzky.

Born in Timmins, Ontario in 1925, Powell moved around the minor leagues quite a bit, but put up impressive numbers everywhere. He starred with Kansas City of the USHL in the final years of the 1940s. In his last two seasons in KC he put together remarkable campaigns of  48 goals, 58 assists and 106 points in 61 games, and 27 goals, 84 assists and 111 points in 61 games.

The Blackhawks gave Powell his NHL chance the following season. He chipped in with 7 goals and 22 points in 31 games, but was dispatched there after.

Powell went on to lead the American Hockey League in scoring (with 97 points) in the 1952 season. He also beat out popular goaltender Johnny Bower for the league's most valuable player award, the Les Cunningham trophy.

Powell would play one more season in the AHL before moving on to several seasons of senior hockey in Quebec and British Columbia. His career came to an end after breaking his leg in a game with the Kelowna Packers.

Powell would remain in Kelowna after his hockey career was over, coaching the Packers until 1960 when he resigned in a pay dispute. He died in the Okanagan city in 1998.

He starred everywhere he went. So why did Ray Powell not stick in the NHL longer than he did? His lack of size was likely a determining factor, as old school hockey men dismissed the slight star before he even hit the ice. One has to wonder if that was a mistake. We will never know.

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Monday

Matt Ravlich

It took a while, but after several seasons in the minor leagues Matt Ravlich became a regular if unheralded defenseman in the last few years of the Original Six. Ravlich graduated from the St. Catherines Teepees, then a Chicago junior affiliate, in 1958. But he did not make the Blackhawks roster until 1964-65.

Ravlich, a close friend of Phil Esposito, was an ornery defender known to make life difficult for oncoming attackers. Though his penalty minute totals were not outrageous. He was also known to drop the gloves on more than a few occasions. Even for his era he was somewhat small at 5'10" and 180lbs, but even the big tough guys respected Ravlich and his damaging upper cut. He goes down in history as all but forgotten, but those who dropped the gloves with him always remembered.

By 1969 Ravlich was off to Detroit, then Los Angeles for a season and a half and Boston for a handful of games. He continued playing in the minor leagues with the Bruins farm team until 1974. He served as coach as well.

In 410 NHL games Matt Ravlich scored 12 goals, 78 assists and 90 points to go along with 364 well earned minutes in the penalty box. He added another goal and six points in 24 playoff contests.

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Sunday

Art Somers

This is Art Somers. Note the old school sweater of the Chicago Black Hawks, with all the striping on top.

Somers played with the Hawks from 1929 through 1931. The Winnipeg native was a junior star (winning the Memorial Cup with the Winnipeg Falcons in 1921) and senior star with the Winnipeg Maroons (competing for Allan Cup in 1923) for many seasons before being discovered by the pros. After one season with the Vancouver Lions of the PCHL, it was off to Chicago.

After helping the Hawks reach the Stanley Cup final in 1931, Somers was off to New York to play for the Broadway Blue Shirts. He played four seasons with the Rangers, although he essentially missed the 1933-34 season. A fractured jaw became infected and left Somers in grave condition. He was confined to a hospital room for a couple of weeks. His wife helped him pass the time "by consistently beating him at checkers."

Somers made a full come back the following season, playing in 41 games. But after going goalless with 5 assists, he gave up on the NHL. He headed to Moose Jaw to play and later coach senior hockey.

In 222 NHL games Art Somers scored 33 goals and 56 assists for 89 points. He added 1 goal and 6 points in 30 Stanley Cup playoff games, most of which came with the Rangers in 1933.

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Friday

Louis Trudel

This is a photo is of a 1938 collector's edition hockey matchbook cover. The striking young man (pun fully intended) is Louis Trudel, one of the earliest American born hockey players in NHL history.

That being said, it would be inaccurate to call him an American hockey star. Louis Napolean Trudel was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 21st, 1912. His parents mad moved south from Montreal to start a new career. However the family soon moved to Edmonton, where young Lou grew up.

Trudel was a solid defensive forward who added some pop-gun offense. He was described as a polite player, and his penalty minute totals reflect that.

Trudel joined the Chicago Black Hawks in 1933, just in time to help the Hawks win the Stanley Cup. He would play 5 seasons in Chicago, exiting in 1938 after winning a second Stanley Cup title in the Windy City.

He extended his NHL career by playing parts of the next three seasons in Montreal before a long tenure in the minor leagues, first as a player, then as a coach, and later as goal judge.

Louis Trudel died of cancer in 1971. He was just 58 years old.

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Monday

Bobby Hull - The Golden Jet

Long before he joined the NHL, Bobby Hull was labeled a sure-fire NHL player. And he didn't disappoint anyone.

Although he didn't invent the slap shot, his uncanny accuracy and amazing power popularized the shot to this day. Goalies would cower when he wound up. Hull led the league in goal scoring in seven seasons. He scored an amazing 610 regular season goals, and over 300 more with the WHA's Jets. He was the first player to record more than 50 goals in one season (54); won the Art Ross Trophy three times, the Hart Trophy twice, the Lady Byng once, and the Lester Patrick Trophy once; Bobby also dominated all-star selections, being named to 10 first all-star teams, and 2 second teams. No wonder why Bobby is considered by many to be the best left winger in the history of the game.

Hull helped bring a Stanley Cup to Chicago, in 1961, as the Black Hawks beat the Detroit Red Wings four games to two. Hull, in his first Stanley Cup Finals, scored two goals in Game One, including the game-winner. The Black Hawks went to the finals twice more, losing in 1962 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and in 1965 to the Montreal Canadiens.

Hull represents a link to another era, when pro sports weren't such big businesses, when the innocence of the sport fostered unabashed adoration of idols. Hull, the charismatic, goal-scoring goodwill ambassador who throughout the 1960's simply was the Chicago Blackhawks, takes us back to another day, when it was so much easier to be young at heart.

"We played just for the sheer enjoyment. We made a boyhood dream come true to play in the NHL," he said. "That's all we wanted to do, to stay there, play the game and enjoy it. Hopefully, the fans enjoyed it.

"We had to make our own fun," Hull recalled. "We stayed together. We went out after games together. On the road, we went out after games together. By the time game-time came around, we didn't have to get to know one another. We spent so much time together we were one unit."

His blonde good looks and sparkling charisma combined with his on ice speed and swagger earned him the nickname "The Golden Jet." Oddly enough, Hull would become a Jet when he signed with Winnipeg of the WHA. Hull became hockey's first millionaire, and the WHA gained instant credibility. The NHL was left shocked as one of their elite attractions walked away to play for another league. Ironically hockey's era of innocence which Hull still represents suffered a severe wake up call.

In Winnipeg he starred for years with Swedish stars Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson. The NHL was furious with his WHA signing and tried legal action to block the move, and then punished Hull by leaving him off of the 1972 Summit Series Team Canada squad. And ironically, it was Winnipeg that opened up the wallets and started handing out big contracts in an effort to lure some of the games top players. Ironic because Winnipeg would lose the NHL version of the Jets in 1996 because they couldn't compete economically.

When the WHA merged with the NHL in 1979, Hull ended up with the Hartford Whalers, where he played one final season. In 1981 Hull, who scored 303 goals in the WHA, attended the New York Rangers training camp as a 42 year old. The Rangers also had Hedberg and Nilsson and were looking to recapture some WHA magic, but it was not meant to be.

Hull was hockey's faster skater (28.3 mph with puck, 29.7 without it) and had the hardest shot (once reportedly recorded at 118.3 mph, some 35 mph above the league average). He was hockey's ultimate hockey player, blending together the talents of his most famed predecessors - the speed of Howie Morenz, the goal scoring prowress of Maurice Richard, the strength and control of Gordie Howe - plus the looks and charisma of a movie star. Hull did more than any other player to popularize the game of hockey in the United States prior to Wayne Gretzky.

Stan Mikita, Hull's long time teammate once was quoted as saying "To say that Bobby is a great hockey player is to labor the point. He was all of that of course. But the thing I admired about him was the way he handled people. He always enjoyed signing autographs for fans and was a genuine nice guy."

Bobby Hull was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1983. One day Bobby's son Brett will join him in the Hall. Brett was Bobby's equivalent during the late 1980's and 1990s, though was overshadowed by Wayne Gretzky.

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Denis Savard

Denis Savard is one of the most electrifying players in the history of hockey, and almost certainly the most exciting of his era. That is quite a claim considering Savard played in an era that boasted the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. The Great One and Super Mario left crowds wowed and thinking "Did I just see that?!" but they couldn't pull the fans out of their seat quite like Denis Savard.

Savard was one of the quickest players in the league, with tremendous one step acceleration. He was so fun to watch as he'd dart in and out of danger, rapidly change directions, and even perfect the "Savardian Spin-a-rama" in which he'd do a full 360 degree turn while carrying the puck to protect it from checkers. His great skating was complimented nicely by his incredibly soft hands. He could stickhandle through an entire team and was an excellent playmaker. He was also a very good shooter, particularly with his laser-like wrist shot. He was also known for taking bad angle shots. He was a puny player in terms of size but he had a solid center of gravity that made him tough to knock off the puck if you were lucky enough to catch him.

Savard would put all of those qualities together and leave defensemen dizzy and fans amazed!

"Denis is one of those players who is not only a great hockey player but a player with charisma," explained Bob Pulford, the long time general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks. "He's got that quality that keeps people coming out see him play."

Lou Nanne, then the general manager of the Hawks arch rival Minnesota North Stars, agreed.

"There just isn't a better skater in the league than Denis Savard. When Denis has the puck, he's got the ability to do a million things with it."

Of course Savard didn't think much of the idea that he was as much an entertainer as much as a hockey player. To him, he was just doing his job.

"I'm still surprised when people say I'm exciting to watch, even after all this time. Sometimes I'll try to put the puck between my legs or fake a pass, things like that. or maybe I spin a few times. It seems to make people talk. But mostly it's just instinct," Savard said. "I want to get the puck to a certain place, so I fake in and turn around on the defense because I feel the defense is confused. I don't do it to excite people. I know what I'm doing is different. I just don't know why."

Comparison's to the league's best player, Wayne Gretzky, were common.

"In my opinion, Savard is trickier than Gretzky. He moves better side to side than anybody in the league, and you never know what he will do when goes behind the net," said Vancouver Canuck goalie Richard Brodeur.

While comparison's to number 99 may be the ultimate compliment, style-wise, Savard and Gretzky were dissimilar. The essence of Savard's game is speed, agility and quickness. Gretzky' incomparable statistics have been attained mainly by an unmatched ability to foresee, comprehend and react to any given situation. Though he excelled alongside line mates Steve Larmer and Al Secord, Savard was more of a soloist than Gretzky.

"The Savardian spins and all the moves nobody else had . . . You can look at guys and try and learn their moves, but Denis was the inventor of the moves; he was the guy everyone else copied. In the middle of a play he'd come up with a new move. Just amazing," remembers coaching legend Dave King

Denis Savard was chosen by the Blackhawks' as their first-round pick (3rd overall) in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. Many were shocked that Denis fell past number one, as the Montreal Canadiens held the first pick. Savard, a Quebec native from Point Gatineau, was a junior standout with the Montreal Jr. Canadiens, and everyone expected the Habs would take perhaps the most exciting junior francophone since Guy Lafleur. Instead, the Habs took Doug Wickenheiser, who had an even better junior season than Savard, but would prove to be an ultimate draft bust.

Savard broke into the league immediately after being drafted and showed he belong, scoring 28 goals and 75 points during his rookie season, and went on to post 119 points the following year, making him the second Blackhawk to score 100+ points in a single season. He was named to the NHL All-Star second team during the 1982-83 season, when he compiled 35 goals and 86 assists in 78 games. Though he played 7 all star games, it would be the only time he'd be honored as a post season All Star member due largely to the logjam of great centers in the 1980s.

Following his third 100+ point season in 1984-85, Savard tallied a career-high 47 goals during the 1985-86 campaign. He tallied career highs in assists (87) and points (131) during the 1987-88 season. His 131-point outburst in 1987-88 is a Blackhawk record and his 87 assist seasons in 1981-82 and 1987-88 are also Blackhawk records.

"Savard basically turned the Chicago franchise around," remembers former teammate Bob Murray. The Hawks had long been also-rans in the NHL power rankings. Not unlike Bobby Hull in the 1960s or Tony Esposito in the 1970s, Denis Savard was the identity of a proud franchise

Those were great days in Chicago, but playoff success was not part of the puzzle.

"I had great years in Chicago. We had a number of shots at winning the Stanley Cup in my first 10 years, but we lost in the semifinals five times. The Edmonton Oilers - by far the best team in hockey at the time - stopped us from getting the job done, but getting that far was still a great thrill," said Denis in Chris McDonell's book For The Love Of The Game.

Once Iron Mike Keenan arrived in the Windy City, Savard's days were numbered. The two did not see eye to eye. So in 1990, after 10 seasons as Mr. Chicago Blackhawks, Savard was traded to, ironically, the Montreal Canadiens for Chris Chelios in 1990.

While Chelios would become a true star in Chicago, Savard played three seasons for the Habs, compiling 179 points in 210 games, and more importantly winning the Stanley Cup in 1993. He wasn't nearly as dynamic as he was in his heyday, but he remained a serviceable player, creating a much needed offensive spark at times.

Savard extended his career with a short stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning before returning to Chicago in a late season trade in 1995. He helped spark the Blackhawks in the 1995 Stanley Cup Playoffs, leading the team with 7goals, 11 assists, and 18 points as they advanced to the Conference Finals.

Savard would hang up the blades after the 1996-97 season. He had posted some of the greatest offensive numbers ever seen. 473 goals and 865 assists for 1338 points in 1196 games was good enough to get him elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.

Had it not been for Wayne Gretzky, perhaps Denis Savard would be recognized as the most electrifying and dominant player of the 1980s. Regardless, he is recognized as a Legend of the Ice.

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Friday

Ed Belfour


Eddie Belfour will always be remembered in two ways. 1) As one of hockey's all time great goaltenders, and 2) as a prickly personality.

Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour has a tremendous resume with a Stanley Cup championship (1999), a Canada Cup title (1991), Olympic Gold Medal (2002), 2 Vezina trophies, 4 Jennings trophies, 1 Calder, 484 career wins (3rd best all time), 76 shutouts (9th all time).

As he enters the Hockey Hall of Fame now it is hard believe Belfour almost never made it to the NHL. He was undrafted out of the University of North Dakota. But Belfour, a devoted disciple of Vladislav Tretiak (hence jersey number 20), was hockey's most determined man.

That determination not only got him a chance at the NHL, but carried him to one hockey's greatest careers and now all the way to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

For all his popularity for what he accomplished on the ice, Eddie Belfour was misunderstood as one of hockey's bad guys off of it.

"Eddie was a unique teammate. Socially, he probably wasn't real tight with anybody, but we all admired the seriousness he took at this position. He prepared himself. He was the first guy there and the last guy to leave," Joe Nieuwendyk told ESPN.com.

Belfour's legendary determination often meant needed solitary focus to be at his best. If things were not quite to his liking, his rough edges would show, including temper tantrums on and off the ice.

"But we accepted it because we knew the type of goalie that we had," Nieuwendyk continued."We knew the competitor he was. He was maybe the best biggest-game goaltender I ever played with."

Nieuwendyk would know. The two were instrumental in Dallas' Stanley Cup victory in 1999. Nieuwendyk may have won the Conn Smythe Trophy and Brett Hull may have scored the famous (infamous?) goal but think about what Belfour had to do. In the 1999 playoffs Belfour beat Grant Fuhr, Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek to win the Stanley Cup.

ESPN's Scott Burnside may have said it best when he said:
"Whatever the motivation was -- the desire to prove people wrong, the desire to be loved or needed -- Belfour focused all of his energies into preparing to win. And though he was demanding of his teammates, he saved his greatest demands for himself."

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Clem Loughlin

Clem Loughlin never had probably never planned on playing in the NHL, so his arrival in the league must have surprised him.

The Carroll, Manitoba native played 6 seasons of senior hockey in Winnipeg before heading west armed with a contract from the Portland Rosebuds of the PCHA. Loughlin moved to Victoria, BC after just two seasons as the 'Buds folded. Louglin would be a standout defenseman with Victoria for 8 strong seasons.

Clem Loughlin, at the age of 32, debuted the next season in the NHL. The Detroit Cougars (later named the Red Wings) purchased the entire Victoria Cougars hockey club and all its player contracts, forcing Loughlin to move to the Motor City. Loughlin was a key player in the first season with Detroit, scoring 7 goals and 10 points in 34 games, a solid contribution for a defenseman.

Loughlin was moved to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for cash in 1928. Loughlin, who by this point was starting to show his age, had slowed down considerably. He scored only 1 assist in 24 games with the Hawks, and finished the season in the minors.

Clem Loughlin signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1929 only to have the Leafs trade him to London of the IAHL on the very same day. Loughlin finished his long career with London before turning to coaching. He even made it back to the NHL as a coach, guiding the Chicago Black Hawks for three seasons from 1934 through 1937.

At 5'11" and 180lbs, Loughlin's best years were with Victoria in the PCHA. He was a 4 time PCHA all star.

Clem spent his off-seasons and retirement in Viking, Alberta where he was first a rancher and later a hotelier. He stayed active in the local youth hockey scene. All six of the Sutter brothers who made it to the NHL will attest to Loughlin's contribution to hockey in Viking.

Clem passed away on February 8th, 1977.

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Bill Orban

This well travelled pro played for 10 different clubs in 11 years.

Bill Orban was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1944 but lived in places like Champaign-Urbana, Illinois., Ottawa and Saskatoon as a youngster. His father Dr. Bill A. Orban Sr. worked for Canada's federal Government and was later named the dean of the University of Saskatchewan.

Bill played his junior hockey in Saskatoon for the Quakers until going to IHL and the Fort Wayne  Comets for a year (1964-65),he then spend two seasons playing for the Los Angeles Blades in the WHL winning the rookie of the year award in 1966. As the NHL expanded in 1967-68 Bill made the Chicago Blackhawks lineup and played 39 games that season. The next season he played 45 games for Chicago before being traded to Minnesota with Tom Reid for Andre Boudrias and Mike McMahon on February 14,1969. He played another 21 games for Minnesota that season.

Bill didn't crack the North Stars lineup at the start of 1969-70 season and was send to Waterloo, Iowa in the CHL. Minnesota recalled Bill on a couple of occasions and he played a total of 9 games for Minnesota that season.  That season he had his most productive campaign in his pro career and notched 75 pts in 65 games for Iowa. He was also named to the second CHL All-Star team. His 9 game stint in Minnesota was his last in the NHL. He was picked up by Chicago in the intra-league draft and was on a couple of Blackhawk training camps but never made the last cut. Bill played for Cleveland and Springfield in the AHL and Portland in the WHL the next couple of seasons.

On thanksgiving night 1972, while playing for Portland he almost suffered a career ending injury when  he was playing with a charley horse in his left leg,and recieved a severe blow to the leg. His leg got swollen but he still insisted on playing the next night against Phoenix tightly taped. The leg was hit again, this time slightly lower and Bill was out for the season,missing almost 60 games. He suffered from such a bad swelling that there was no place for the muscle to go. The muscle literally exploded causing a lot of internal bleeding.

Bill had an operation to the leg but the problem was that no calcium had formed in the leg so it took seven months before he could even skate or jog or ride a bicycle. He later only had 60 % of the normal flexibility in his left thigh.

Despite this he fought on and played another two seasons. This time in the CHL for the Tulsa Oilers and Dallas Black Hawks before retiring 31 years old in 1975. Bill was a real team player who worked as hard or harder than anybody on his teams. As a minor leaguer he was often used as a penalty killer. He was also used in powerplay situations. He was a descent two-way player who also played well in the corners. A pretty complete player although not the best skater.

Bill Orban played a total of 114 regular season NHL games (8 goals, 15 assist for 23 points) and went pointless in 3 playoff games.

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Monday

Gus Bodnar

When a rookie plays in his first game, he wants to try and do something to get himself noticed by the coach. Good hustle, smart defensive play or a big hit would all do the trick. But it would be hard to top what Gus Bodnar did in his first NHL game. On October 30, 1943 the rookie Toronto Maple Leafs center scored just 15 seconds into his first NHL game. That feat is a long standing record for the faster goal by a player in his first NHL game!

Bodnar's fast goal not only lifted his confidence, but also that of his coach's. Bodnar would go on to enjoy a spectacular first year, scoring 22 goals and 40 assists for 62 points in 50 games while capturing the Calder Trophy as the league's best newcomer.

Bodnar, who was fantastic playmaker from Fort William, Ontario, would play parts of 4 season with the Leafs, but his play would slip dramatically towards the end of his Toronto tenure. His second season he scored 44 points in 49 games, but only 8 goals. By his 4th season he spent some time in the minors. He started the 1947-48 season in the minors before being involved in one of the league's biggest trades of all time. Toronto packaged Bodnar, Gaye Stewart, Bud Poile, Ernie Dickens and Bob Goldham to Chicago for Max Bentley and Cy Thomas.

While Bentley would sparkle in Toronto and lead the Buds to 3 Stanley Cups, the Blackhawks would go into a tailspin that saw them finish near the bottom for a number of years. Bodnar was a solid center for them for almost 7 full seasons however. He would often be linemates with fellow former Leafs Stewart and Poile on the "Flying-Forts" line as all three were from the Fort William.

Bodnar's highlight of his Chicago tenure came on March 13, 1953. That night is a very well remembered in hockey circles as it is the night that Chicago's Bill Mosienko scored the fastest hat trick in history - 3 goals in just 21 seconds!. While that record is seemingly unbeatable, Gus Bodnar also set an improbable record that night as well - the fastest 3 assists in NHL history - also in 21 seconds. Bodnar set up Mosienko for all three of his well celebrated goals that night.

Bodnar was traded to Boston late in the 1954 in exchange for Jerry Topazzini. Bodnar would play one final season in Boston before retiring to become a long time junior coach.

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Saturday

Dick Redmond

This poorly lighted photograph was turned

Dick Redmond was a confident, almost cocky, defenseman blessed with all the tools - great skater, good vision, and a blistering shot which made him a good power play quarterback. He was not exactly noted for his defensive game, which may have only been average at best, but that was not why he was in the lineup..

Redmond was born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. The son of former minor league player Ed Redmond, Dick and older brother Mickey would play hockey for hours on end after school and on the weekends. It paid off as both made it to the National Hockey Leagues and were both upper-echelon players of the 1970s. They were as competitive against each other on NHL ice as they were on the frozen ponds back home.

His 771 game career over parts of 14 NHL seasons were well travelled, but he was best known as a Chicago Blackhawk. He helped the Hawks reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1973. He had his best season personally in '73-74 with 17 goals and 59 points. Three years later he lit the lamp 22 times and accumulated 47 points.

Drafted by Minnesota, Redmond got his first real chance to play while with the California Golden Seals for a couple of seasons. A trade to Chicago proved beneficial for both player and team. For the next 5 seasons Redmond put in yeoman's work with Chicago. He would move on to play with St. Louis, Atlanta and Boston, too.

Though he was a top 10 scorer amongst defensemen in the 1970s, Redmond was never considered to be on the top level with the likes of Larry Robinson, Brad Park, Denis Potvin or of course Bobby Orr. Instead, Redmond was one of those players who had a real nice skill set but something prevented him from taking that next step. What that something was exactly frustrated fans and coaches alike. Instead he was a level or two below the best - a serviceable offensive blue liner who seemed to wear out his welcome eventually.

In 771 NHL games Dick Redmond scored a respectable 133 goals, 312 assists and 445 points.

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Thursday

Steve Ludzik

Steve Ludzik and Steve Larmer's careers will always be intertwined. The good buddies still share a laugh about it all.


In the late 1970s Larmer and Ludzik were partners in scoring prowess with the Niagara Falls Flyers of the OHA. The two formed a lethal and explosive scoring combination, and though Larmer would continue to score in the NHL whereas Ludzik became an stellar defensive player, it was Ludzik who was the more prolific of the two in junior hockey.

The Chicago Blackhawks drafted the dynamic duo in 1980, Ludzik was drafted 28th overall and Larmer, surprisingly, slipped to 120th. The two spent a year apprenticing together in the minor leagues with AHL New Brunswick, leading the Hawks to the Calder Cup championship, before making the jump to the NHL in 1982-83.

During that rookie season, one of the most famous hockey card mistakes of all time occurred. O-Pee-Chee issued each player's rookie card, but mixed up the photos. Ludzik's rookie hockey card depicted Larmer, while Larmer's depicted Ludzik.

The constant mixing up of the two Steve's ended fairly quickly. Larmer would star on the top line with Denis Savard, constantly scoring 40 goals a year. Ludzik would come to embrace a checking role during his nine years in the NHL. Playing with the likes of Tim Higgins, he transformed himself into a grinder with good speed and good anticipation. His scoring game never did materialize. His best year was 1984-85 when he scored a paltry 11 tallies.

Following a trade to the Buffalo Sabres in September 1989, Ludzik played in just eleven more NHL games before he was relegated to the minors with the AHL Rochester Americans.

Upon retirement he became quite interested in coaching, and quickly went from Colonial League coach of the year to IHL Turner Cup champion to Tampa Bay Lightning head coach. He also established himself as a television personality.

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Eric Daze

When thinking back on Eric Daze, the words "what if . . . " come up a lot.

Daze, drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 4th round, 90th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, was a giant of the hockey arena, standing tall at 6’6″ and 222 pounds, even without his skates. The guy was as strong as a bull, although that left everyone just wanting more. He never backed down from anybody, but on too many nights he failed to initiate much on the physical end of things. As a result Daze always had his fair share of critics calling for a higher compete level from him.

Making him more impressive was his hand skills. He had the soft hands, for shooting and puckhandling, that are usually reserved for players much smaller than him. He had a strong shot without much of a back swing and enough dangle while carrying the puck to draw defenders to him, allowing him to slip the puck into the vacated space to a streaking teammate.

Big number 55 was hardly a speed-demon either, though in his era he had decent skating ability amongst the lumbering big men. He skated well enough to play alongside Alexei Zhamnov and Tony Amonte for some time in Chicago.

Ultimately, Daze never really fulfilled his potential. Even the biggest men in hockey can not effectively play through serious back injuries, and that is exactly what happened to Daze. Three times in 5 years he had surgeries to repair herniated discs in his back. But the multiple come back attempts always were met with constant pain.

As a result Daze played only 20 games in his final two seasons, even though he had taken a full year off in between those campaigns (due to the NHL lockout).

Daze played in 601 NHL games, scoring 226 goals and 172 assists for 398 points. Four times he topped the 30 goal mark, including in his best season, 2001-02 when he scored a career high 38 goals and 70 points.

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Friday

Denis Dejordy

When Denis Dejordy debuted in his first NHL game, he instantly became the answer of one of the most famous hockey trivia questions. That's because his first game was November 7, 1962, and it was the first time anyone other than the great Glenn Hall had tended the Chicago years. Hall of course played in an unthinkable  502 straight games!

Denis only got into 11 games in his first two years because of Hall's dominance. But Dejordy was no slouch either, as his years in the AHL suggest. He was a AHL All Star, MVP and top goalie in two years prior to arriving in Chicago.

Dejordy finally got a chance to play more regularly in 1964-65. He got into 30 games, and despite a 16-11-3 record including 3 shutouts and a 2.52 GAA, it wasn't enough. He was sent to the minors for the entire 1965-66 season.

Dejordy was recalled in 1966-67 and split the schedule with Hall, and the two shared the Vezina Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the league. Denis had a nice 22-12-7 record with 4 shutouts and 2.46 GAA Over the next two years Denis became more and more the number one goalie, playing over 50 games in each year, posting respectable though not outstanding numbers.

Early in the 1969-70 the Hawks traded Dejordy once Tony Esposito arrived and took over the number one job. He was traded with Gilles Marotte and Jim Stanfield to Los Angeles for Bill White, Bryan Campbell and Gerry Desjardins. He became the Kings number one goalie, but the team was very poor, and so were Dejordy's stats as a result.

Dejordy was traded to to Montreal during the 1971-72, but only got into 7 games as he became a backup to the great Ken Dryden.

In 1972-73 he was dealt to Detroit, playing 24 games, though struggling with a weak "Dead Wings" team. He only played one NHL game in 1973-74, despite starring in the minor leagues with the Baltimore Clippers. In fact, once again Dejordy became an all star at the AHL level, just like had over a decade earlier.

Denis retired after that season, having amassed a 124-127-51 record in 316 NHL games, including 15 shutouts.

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Sunday

Stewart Adams

Calgarian Stewart Adams enjoyed a long professional career. In addition to 106 games in the NHL with the Chicago Black Hawks and Toronto Maple Leafs, Adams was a notable player for the Minnesota Millers of the AHA and later CHL.

Adams was acquired by the Hawks during the 1929-30 season and he would play most of the next three seasons there, although somewhat irregularly. It is unclear if this was due to injury or, perhaps more likely, just a lack of playing time. He scored 9 goals and 33 points in 85 games with the Hawks over that time.

The Leafs acquired Adams for the 1932-33 season, briefly replacing the injured Charlie Conacher on the vaunted Kid Line. Ultimately his career as a Leaf was undistinguished, picking up 2 assists in 19 games.

After his pro career was over Adams returned home to Calgary where he was a hockey legend. He had helped the Calgary Canadians junior team to three Memorial Cup tournaments in four years. He continued to play hockey in the senior leagues with the Calgary Tigers while also working at a local distillery.

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Wednesday

Frantisek Kucera

Frantisek Kucera was a serviceable defenseman at the NHL level. Because he never really embraced the more physical North American game - an almost must for any NHL defenseman - Kucera was best suited as third pairing defenseman who could move into a 4th D role.

In such roles he was a reliable depth defender. He could read the oncoming play well and had good mobility to defend one on one on the rush, but not in the corners or in front of the net. He could be counted on to make a safe though never spectacular clearing of the zone. He rarely rushed the puck. Rather he would bank the puck off of the glass, or make a strong pass out. He was a right handed defender, a bit of a rarity in hockey, making it a touch easier for him to stay employed.

Including all his time in the Czech Republic during and after his NHL days were done, Kucera had a long career. In the NHL he played in 465 NHL games with Chicago, Hartford, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Washington, never really staying in one place very long.

From 1998 through his retirement in 2005 he mostly played back home with his native HC Sparta Praha and on the Czech national team. He was a member of the 1998 Olympic gold medal team

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Friday

Doug Lecuyer

"In this corner, standing at 5 foot 9 inches tall weighing in at 180 pounds, from the Winnipeg Jets, the veteran of many fights Doug Lecuyer!"

"And now entering the ring, in his first professional bout, standing at 6 feet tall and weighing 175lbs if he has all of his hockey equipment on, Wayne Gretzky."

Wait a minute. Wayne Gretzky in a fight?

Yep. It is true. The Wayner actually received three 5 minute major penalties for pugilism. Mind you he wasn't very good at it.

In an interview with the CBC's Peter Gzowski Wayne talked freely about his fight with Minnesota's Neal Broten at Christmas time in 1982. Wayne insisted he won that fight of Ghandi-impersonators. However Gzowski reminded Wayne about a fight a couple of years later with Chicago's Bob Murray. Wayne didn't want to talk too much about that one. Obviously he didn't fare as well against big Bob. Mind you I'm sure Bob had Dave Semenko among others gunning for him for a number of games afterwards.

But what the Gzowski interview failed to point out that Gretzky's first fight was with a kid from Wainright Alberta named Doug Lecuyer.

Now Neal Broten was a lot like Wayne in that he couldn't hurt a fly. Bob Murray was big and strong but not much of a fighter. But Doug Lecuyer certainly knew how to handle himself in a fight.

A fine junior player in Edmonton, Calgary and Portland (WCJHL), Doug put PIMs total in junior was 1317. He stood only 5'9" and 180lbs, so he was hardly a heavyweight, but rather he played a fiesty, pesty Theoren Fleury-like game.

The fight came late in Gretzky's rookie season. Coincidentally, it was Lecuyer's rookie season as well. On March 14, 1980, the two somehow got entangled and dropped the gloves. Its tough to uncover much about this tilt. But I can assure you that as soon as the Oilers realized that Wayne was in a fight of all things they all jumped. The fight was pretty short, and not a classic. It led to a bunch of brawling and lots of name calling!

So who is this Lecuyer guy? He played an abrasive style to survive because he was so small. Scouts had always told him that he wouldn't make it to the big leagues because of his size. But Doug did make it to a certain extent. He played 126 games over 5 pro seasons.

Originally drafted by Chicago 29th overall in 1978, Lecuyer was pretty good with the puck too. He scored 40 goals 3 times in junior and was a point-a-game player at the minor league level. In his 126 NHL games he scored 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points, to go along with 178 PIM. 3 of his 11 goals were game winners too.

Doug was playing a very minor role as a rookie with the Hawks in 1979-80. Lecuyer of course made a name for himself when he fought "The Kid" of all people. Shortly after, Lecuyer had a strong player, scoring 4 goals in 7 games. The 4 goals matched his career production in the previous 55 games.

Lecuyer's name was becoming well known in hockeyland after that, and his stock went up. The Hawks, who saw him play all season, realized his stock would likely never get higher and took the chance and traded him away to Winnipeg with Tim Trimper in exchange for Peter Marsh in December of 1980. Lecuyer went on to score 6 goals and 23 points in 45 games with the Jets that season.

Lecuyer played the entire 1981-82 in the CHL with the Tulsa Oilers where he played well. He scored 30 goals and 38 points in 69 games, but never got recalled to the NHL.

On October 4, 1982, the Pittsburgh Penguins plucked him off of the waiver wire. Lecuyer played 12 games with Pittsburgh, scoring 1 goal and 4 assists, but spent most of the year with the Pens farm team in the AHL. It proved to Lecuyer's last season of professional hockey.

Lecuyer can claim he once fought Wayne Gretzky. But he can also claim he played hard for 126 NHL games, and earned every one of his paychecks.

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Wednesday

Fred Sasakamoose: Chief Running Deer



It is believed that Fred Saskamoose was the first full blooded Native Indian to play in the National Hockey League. It was fitting that he played with the Chicago Blackhawks. Fred played center for 11 games for the Hawks in the 1953-54 season.

Fred grew up on the isolated Sandy Lake Reserve in Saskatchewan. In his early years there was no such things as cars, phones or even electricity! But there was lots of snow and ice, and Fred loved to play hockey - complete with a stick carved out of an old willow tree branch!

Fred soon left the reserve though, as the Catholic church convince his parents that he needed a good education, and that could only be accomplished by leaving the reserve and going to Duck Lake. While education wasn't high on Fred's task list, he became a great athlete as the clergy worked the children hard on the local farms. Fred would be in great physical shape before long after he and the others had to take care of 80 milking cows and 50 acres of gardens at the school, not to mention lots of sports - soccer, baseball, boxing, but especially hockey.

Fred had enough by the age of 15 though and yearned to be at home with his parents. He left the school and returned to the reserve. But by this time he had already gotten quite a name for himself as a hock talent at the midget level, and this had caught the eyes of junior hockey scouts. Although he was reluctant to leave home again, he agreed to join the the Moose Jaw Canucks.

Fred continued to develop and excel as a hockey over the next 4 seasons. By his 4th season he was named as the best player in the league.

By this time Fred had already signed a C-Form with the Chicago Blackhawks. A C-Form was used to acquire an amateur player's professional rights in the days long before the NHL had an entry draft. Fred had actually attend Blackhawk training camps in the past. In fact on one occasion he centered hockey's most culturally diverse line - Al Laycock, a Black left winger and Jimmy Chow, of Asian descent, joined the Native Canadian.

Late in his 4th season in Moose Jaw Fred was actually called up to the National Hockey League by the Chicago Blackhawks, and  finished the year with the Hawks. Fred was as strong as a moose and a great skater. Legend has it that he actually shot the puck harder than Bobby Hull - the great Chicago Blackhawk who is considered to be the heaviest shooter of all time!

For Fred the whole experience was at first overwhelming, but he later took in as much as he could. He was in shock to arrive in Toronto, and then when the game started he couldn't believe how many people were there watching the game, and that after years of listening to games on radio and tv, he too would be part of Hockey Night In Canada! He even met Foster Hewitt, who asked how to properly pronounce his name.

Fred took his place in the NHL for granted a bit and was surprised by his demotion to the minor leagues in 1954-55. He played for the New Westminister Royals and Chicoutimi Sagueneens before joining the Calgary Stampeders of the WHL in 1955-56. He would never make it back to the National Hockey League.

Fred quit the pro hockey only 2 games into the '55-56 season as he wanted to be with his wife who refused to leave the Sandy Lake Reserve. Tired of being told what to do my hockey bosses, Fred took a taxi 600 miles from Calgary to Sandy Lake to be with his wife.

Angry at Fred's leaving, the Hawks refused to grant him his amateur status until 1957. He would play senior hockey in the Okanagan Senior Hockey League. He was quite the attraction as fans wanted to see a former NHLer and an Indian hero.

Saskamoose would later go on to become a band chief in 1980. His name was "Chief Running Deer" although he was also known as "Chief Thunder Stick" because of his booming slap shot. Fred devoted his energies to Indian affairs in Saskatchewan.

Fred Saskamoose, one of best men in all of Canada, played 11 games with the Hawks, recording no points and 6 penalty minutes. He was inducted into the Saskatchewan Indian Hall of Fame in 1994.

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Sunday

Doug Zmolek

Doug Zmolek was close to achieving every hockey playing Minnesotan kid's dream. Then a funny thing happened.

Born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1970, Zmolek grew up playing the game as long as he can remember. He first became a star at John Marshall high school, leading to a scholarship to the University of Minnesota.


Now that is the dream for many Minnesotan kids, or at least their parents. But Zmolek took it to another level. He became a collegiate all star, an member of the United States World Junior team, and highly sought after by NHL scouts.  He had size, a mean streak and good agility on his skates.

So high, that he went 7th overall in 1989. Even better, he was draft by the Minnesota North Stars.

A big, physical stay at home defenseman, Zmolek would become solid NHL depth defender for 8 seasons. But a funny thing happened before he left university - the Minnesota North Stars were no more.

In a complicated move, the North Stars moved to Texas to become the Dallas Stars. But first the franchise was split into two, with half of the players dispersed to a new franchise - the San Jose Sharks. Complicated yes, but Zmolek's future was clear. He was heading to California.

Zmolek stepped directly into the NHL after leaving university, playing admirably with a weak expansion franchise. He accepted the role of the tough, hard as nails defender, never an easy task. Over the years he would settle into a more comfortable role as a stay at home, positional defender who would display his physicality when needed.

Zmolek played two seasons in San Jose before he was reunited with the other half of his original franchise. He would play about 2 seasons in Dallas, then 2 seasons in Los Angeles and finally 2 seasons in Chicago. Because he had little offensive upside he was expendable, thus the vagabond career.

Life has come full circle for Zmolek. He returned to Rochester, Minnesota and became head of hockey operations for youth in the city. He also runs his own hockey school there.

Doug played 467 career NHL games, scoring 11 goals and 53 assists for 64 points. He added 905 penalty minutes.

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Max Bentley

One of the most exciting players of any era in National Hockey League was Max Bentley. He was nicknamed "The Dipsy Doodle Dandy" because of the way he zigged and zagged his way through an opposing team "like a scared jackrabbit." Several NHL old timers were quick to compare Wayne Gretzky upon his NHL debut to the electrifying Bentley. Others favor the modern day comparison of Denis Savard or Gilbert Perreault.

Although he was puny at just 5' 8" and 155 pounds, Bentley quickly learned to use his superior skating abilities to survive the rough and tough NHL. He was also brilliant with the puck. He could stickhandle through a maze of players at top speed - a true rarity in any era. He was a deft passer and had a laser like wrist shot.

Bentley credited his incredible wrist shot to his farm chores back home in Delisle, Saskatchewan. His father would tell him that milking cows would make his wrists strong, and in turn would provide him with an excellent shot.

The Bentleys, like most western Canadian farming families, worked hard to earn their living but relished athletics almost as much. Bill, the father better known as "Boss," was a blazing speedskater in his day, and taught all of thirteen his children to skate expertly. All 6 of his sons went on to star at various levels of hockey, including Max, Doug and briefly Reg in the NHL. Even the seven daughters formed a team that would often beat any local teams looking for a scrimmage, including the brothers.

In 1938 Max and Doug headed to Montreal to try out for the Canadiens. But Max became ill and upon further examination was diagnosed with a severe heart condition. He was told to never play hockey again in order to maintain a normal and long life.

Max returned to the farm and initially followed the doctor's orders, which left him miserable as could be. Eventually, with the encouragement of his wife Betty, he returned to the rinks and joined 5 of his brothers with the Drumheller Miners of the Alberta Senior Hockey League.

Doug got another training camp invite, this time with the Chicago Black Hawks. Doug stuck with the Hawks and impressed immediately. The following season, 1940-41, Max got an invite and also made the team.

Almost from the get-go the Bentley brothers took the Windy City by storm. Originally paired with Bill Thoms, the dynamic duo became the terrific trio once Bill Mosienko joined the Bentleys on the top line. Using their great speed and intricate passing plays, they became known as "The Pony Line." They patterned themselves after their heroes Frank Boucher and Bill and Bun Cook. Both the Pony Line and the Rangers "A Line" have been compared in modern terms to the great Soviet Red Army teams of the 1970s and 1980s.

Not including the two years he missed for military duty, Max enjoyed 5 seasons in Chicago. However it was his two year stint following WWII duties (1945-1947) that Max really asserted himself as one of the game's elite. Nicknamed the "Dipsy Doodle Dandy from Delisle," Max won the Hart Trophy (1945-46), the Art Ross Trophy (1945-46 and 1946-47) and was voted to the first All-Star team (1945-46) and second All Star team (1946-47).

Despite the Pony Line's success, the Black Hawks were never able to acquire enough depth to become true contenders in the competitive 6 team NHL. So on November 4, 1947, they went looking for depth, and sacrificed Max Bentley to get it. In one of the biggest trades in all of hockey history the Hawks sent Bentley to the Toronto Maple Leafs for 5 players - an entire forward unit consisting of Gaye Stewart, Gus Bodnar and Bud Poile, plus defensive pairing Ernie Dickens and Bob Goldham.

Max was initially heartbroken about the trade, and NHL insiders didn't understand why the Leafs gave up such a big part of their team to get just the one player - even if it was the great Max Bentley. The trade would quickly backfire on the Hawks instead and stands as one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history. The Hawks floundered without Max, missing the playoffs for the next several years.

Meanwhile in Toronto, Max was a key player in three Stanley Cup championships (1948, 1949 and 1951). Playing on a much deeper team (Max had to share ice time with fellow centers Syl Apps - who retired in 1948 - and Teeder Kennedy), Max never posted the same offensive statistics during the regular season in Toronto. However come playoff time he was unstoppable - twice leading all scorers in assists and once in points.

Max, who often played with Joe Klukay and Nick Metz (then Ray Timgren after Metz's retirement), was a fan favorite in Toronto. Perhaps his greatest moment as a Maple Leaf came final game of the 1951 Cup finals against Montreal. With the Canadiens up 2-1 in the dying seconds, the Leafs pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker. Bentley managed to manoeuvre his way right into the slot and set up Sid Smith who in turn hit the goal post. Tod Sloan was there to make sure the game headed into overtime. The Leafs won the game - and the Cup - in the extra frame, thanks to the heroics of Bill Barilko.

Bentley's career was winding down by 1953, but he wanted to end his career by once again playing with his brother Doug. The two reunited briefly with the New York Rangers before both waved good bye to the NHL, and returned to Saskatchewan until his death in 1984.

Fittingly, both Max and Doug Bentley are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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