Hockey is Canada’s game and Sudburians are crazy about it. We play it on backyard rinks, frozen ponds as well as at the city’s 14 community arenas. And all those stories of two year olds and 82 year olds on skates are true.
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of young Sudbury athletes, have headed south on hockey scholarships. Native sons and daughters have played hockey for Team Canada. Greater Sudbury is known as a breeding ground for NHL players. More than 60 homegrown talents have worn NHL sweaters and many more played on the farm teams.
In 1994 the National Sports of Canada Act recognized hockey as the national winter sport and lacrosse as the national summer sport. There is evidence the first hockey game was played in Windsor, N.S., around 1800 when King’s College School students decided to play field hockey on ice. Montreal and Kingston also have claims as the birthplace of Canadian hockey.
Sudbury’s first hockey rink, Martin’s Rink, was built in 1892, just six years after the town was established. A team of men got together to play during the winter carnival. The first inter-town hockey game played in Sudbury was March 13, 1893 against Chapleau. Sudbury won the match with a score of 2-1.
In 1903 the Sudbury Hockey Club along with teams from Sturgeon Falls and North Bay joined the Ontario Hockey Association’s Intermediate League.
In 1904 women organized their own teams. Sudbury lost the first game to Copper Cliff 3-0.
In 1904 businessmen James Orr and James Purvis built The Palace, an indoor curling/skating town rink on Durham St., near Memorial Park. It was destroyed by fire in 1910. It was rebuilt and served the town for several decades until it was demolished in the late 1930s.
During the 1930s, Copper Cliff was one of the few towns across Ontario that had an indoor rink. Stanley Stadium, the first in the area with artificial ice, opened in January 1935. During the 1940s, Sudbury hockey teams had to travel to play at the Copper Cliff arena.
Sudbury Arena, built in 1951 on the site of the former Central Public School, was the first in the City of Sudbury to have an artificial ice surface.
Champion figure skater Joyce Salo-McKenzie claims to be the first person to step on the ice surface when the arena first opened its doors. Salo-McKenzie captured the bronze medal at the Canadian Junior Championships in 1949. Salo-McKenzie was inducted into Sudbury House of Kin Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Wolves were the All-Ontario Champs in 1953-54.
Sudbury NHL alumni include Hector “Toe” Blake who is considered by the league to be one of the 100 greatest NHL players in history. Blake was born in Victoria Mines and grew up in Coniston. He was a member of the Wolves when it won the 1932Memorial Cup, and is best known for his three-decade association with the Montreal Canadiens, with whom he won 10 Stanley Cups as a player or coach. Blake was elected to theHockey Hall of Fame in 1966 in the player category, and was made a Member of the Order of Canadain 1982. In 2011, the Coniston community centre was renamed the Toe Blake Memorial Arena in his honour. He died in 1995.
Other homegrown NHLers:
* Sam Rothschild, born in Sudbury in 1899, played 102 games in the NHL with the Montreal Maroons,Pittsburgh Pirates, andNew York Americans. The Maroons won the Stanley Cup in 1926. Following his retirement, Rothschild coached the junior Sudbury Wolves to the 1932Memorial Cupchampionship.
* Eddie Shack was born in Sudbury in 1937. During his long career, he played for six NHL teams: New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, L.A Kings, Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was on winning Stanley Cup teams in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967. After retirement from hockey, Shack was a popular advertising spokesman, most notably for The Pop Shoppe.
* Ron Duguay played minor hockey in the Valley East Minor Hockey Association and was drafted by the Wolves in 1973 when he was 16. He was the New York Rangers second choice in the 1977 amateur draft.He also played for Detroit, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. Duguay scored 274 goals and 620 points in 860 career NHL games. He retired from hockey in 1999 after almost a decade in the minors. His good looks and penchant for models made Duguay a celebrity player. In 2009, Duguay competed on the Battle of the Blades skating competition on CBC Television, partnered withBarbara Underhill. He currently works as a television hockey analyst.
* Al Arbour, Hall of Famer, born in 1932, played in the NHL from 1949 to 1971 (Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues). Arbour coached from 1970 to 2008 (New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues) He died in Florida in 2015.
* George Armstrong, Hall of Famer, was born in Skead in 1930. He played 21 seasons for the Leafs. Armstrong was a seven-time NHL All-star and scored 713 points in his career that spanned 1,188 games. After retiring as a player in 1971, he coached the Toronto Marlboros to two Memorial Cup championships. He also worked as a scout for the Quebec Nordiques, as assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and as Leafs coach for part of the 1988-89 season.
* Larry Aurie played 11 seasons in the NHL for Detroit Cougars. He was born in Sudbury in 1905 and died in Detroit in 1952.
* John George Baby Jr. played defence two seasons in the NHL for the Cleveland Barons and Minnesota North Stars. Born in Sudbury in 1957. Baby played junior hockey with the Wolves and finished his career in the International Hockey League. His father John Sr. was a member of the Wolves when they won the Allan Cup in 1954.
* Todd Bertuzzi, born and raised in Sudbury, played for the New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings. Bertuzzi’s nephew, Tyleri, who plays for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, was drafted 58th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
* Cummy Burton signed with the Detroit Red Wings in 1959 and played for three seasons before his career was ended by an injury. Later, he was a sports broadcaster for CKSO-TV. Burton was inducted into Hockey Heritage North, which honours NHL players born in Northern Ontario, and he was also inducted into the House of Kin Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. He died in 2015.
* Fred Boimistruck grew up in Capreol. He was drafted by Toronto Maple Leafs in 1980 and played two seasons before being sent to the minors. The defence player retired from hockey when he was 25 and became a locomotive engineer with CN. Boimistruck was part of a Cornwall Royals junior club that won Memorial Cup championships in 1980 and 1981.
* Andrew Brunette, from Valley East, played much of his minor hockey career with the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats of the NOHA. He played with the Owen Sound Platters and was a Washington Capitals draft pick. He skated 1,100-plus-game in the NHL with Washington, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche. After knee-surgery, he played his last season with Chicago Blackhawks. In 2013, Brunette announced his retirement. He was assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild and now works in the team’s front office.
* Bryan Albert Campbell (born 1944) played 260 games in the NHL and 433 games in the WHA. He played for the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Black Hawks, Vancouver Blazers, Cincinnati Stingers, Indianapolis Racers, and Edmonton Oilers.
* Wayne Carleton (born 1946) played in the NHL and WHA in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a member of the 1970 Boston Bruins Stanley Cup champions.
* Randy Carlyle grew up in Azilda and is a former member of the Wolves. Currently he the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks and was formerly the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played for Toronto and was captain in Pittsburgh and Winnipeg.
* Robert Arthur Cook, born in 1946, played with Vancouver, Detroit, New York Islanders and Minnesota. He began his OHL career with the London Nationals and finished his career in 1976 with the London Knights of CSAHL. He died in 1978 at the age of 32 in London.
* D’Arcy Coulson is the son of the original owner of the Coulson Hotel. In 1930 the defenceman played one season in the NHL for the Philadelphia Quakers. After hockey, he made a fortune in the hotel industry and owned a golf course. He died in 1996.
* Terry Crisp, who grew up in Capreol, helped the St. Louis Blues win three consecutive Stanley Cups. He also played with the Philadelphia Flyers when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1974. As a coach, he led the Sault Greyhounds to an undefeated season at home in 1985. Crisp was named head coach of the Calgary Flames and later became coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning from 1992 to 1997. After retirement, he became a sports broadcaster with TSN, Fox Sports, and colour analyst for the Nashville Predators.
* Gary Croteau, (born 1946), played most of his pro career with the Colorado Rockies. He played university hockey in the USA and was signed as a free agent by the Maple Leafs in 1968, then traded to the Los Angeles Kings. He scored five goals in 11 games with the Kings during playoffs. After a couple more trades, he landed in Denver with the Colorado Rockies in 1976. His best season was in 1977, when he scored 24 goals and 27 assists. After an injury in 1980, Croteau retired from hockey and works as a financial broker in Denver.
* Troy Crowder was born 1968 in Walden. He earned a reputation as an enforcer before he was drafted into the NHL in 1986. He compiled 433 career penalty minutes in 150 games. He played parts of seven seasons in with the New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, and Vancouver Canucks. For two seasons, Crowder was the Calgary Flames player development coach, and he is now president of True Stride Inc., a company that designs skate boots.
* Marc D’Amour was born in Sudbury in 1961. The goaltender played junior hockey in Sault. Ste. Marie. He signed a contract with the Calgary Flames in 1982 and played 16 games for the Flames and later the Philadelphia Flyers. He spend the rest of his career in the minors and retired in 1992.
Joffre Wilfred Desilets (April 16, 1915 – November 30, 1994) was a professional ice hockey player who played 192 games in the National Hockey League. He played with the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Black Hawks. He was born in Capreol.
* Craig Duncanson grew up in Walden and played junior hockey with the Wolves. The left winger was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Kings in 1985. During his career, he played for the Kings, Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers Duncanson now his head coach of the Laurentian University Voyaguers.
* Lively native Andrew Desjardins brought the Stanley Cup home in July 2015 after his team, the Chicago Blackhawks, won the championship for the sixth time.
* Jack Egers (born 1949) was drafted in 1966 by the New York Rangers. He also also played for St. Louis and Washington. He played OHA in Kitchener. When he retired from playing, he returned to Kitchener and coached Junior B hockey. He retired from the Kitchener Fire Department in 2009.
* John Flesch (born 1953) played the 1971-72 season with the Wolves and the next year played for 28 Lake Superior State University then was chosen 69th He.was drafted by the Atlanta Flames in 1973. He played 124 NHL games with the Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Colorado Rockies.
* Robert Douglas Fitchner (born Dec. 22, 1950 in Sudbury) is a retired professional ice hockey player who played 414 games in the World Hockey Association and 8 games in the National Hockey League. He played for the Indianapolis Racers, Quebec Nordiques, and Edmonton Oilers.
* Mike Foligno played his entire minor and junior career in his hometown. A scorer for the Sudbury Wolves (OHA), was drafted by Detroit and played 2½ seasons in Detroit before he was traded to Buffalos. He stayed there for 10-seasons and was was traded to Toronto late in 1990 when it was felt he was near the end of his career. He ended his career in 1993-94 after playing most of the season in sunny Florida for the Panthers. While playing in Florida he surpassed the magical 1,000 game mark.
* David Fortier (born 1951) played minor hockey in Garson and won the NOJHL Best Defenceman Award with Chelmsford in 1969-70. Fortier appeared in 205 NHL games with the Leafs, the Islanders and the Canucks, scoring eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points along with 335 penalty minutes. He also appeared in 20 playoff games, recording two assists and 33 penalty minutes. After retiring, he became a Sudbury firefighter.
*Mike Gillis (born 1958) played with the Colorado Rockies and Boston Bruins. After retiring from the game, he studied law and became a player agent. In 2008, he became general manager of the Canucks. He was controversial in Vancouver and left his post in 2014. He teaches sports law at the University of Victoria.
* Sean Gauthier (born 1971) played junior hockey in Kingston. The goalie played r one game in the NHL for the San Jose Sharks in 1998–99. Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1991, he played in the minor pro leagues and four year stint in Sweden.
*Wilfred “Shorty” Green Green was born in Sudbury in 1896. His hockey career began when he graduated from Sudbury High School and joined the Northern Ontario senior title winning team in 1915. He played in the finals for the Allen Cup with the 27th Battalion team in 1917. Green later spent 30 months in the army during the First World War, and was discharged from military service in December 1918. He returned to hockey, winning the 1919 Allen Cup with the Hamilton Tigers prior to returning home to play with Sudbury Wolves of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association. He turned professional in 1923 with the Hamilton Tigers and was captain of the team when they went on strike for more money in 1925 prior to the playoffs. In 1925-26 the Hamilton Tigers moved to New York to become the New York Americans. Green played on the “Tiger Line” with former Tiger Billy Bunch and his brother Red Green. Green would score the first goal in the new Madison Square Gardens. Green retired from playing hockey in 1927 and coached the Americans during the 1927-28 season before becoming coach of the Duluth Hornets of the American Hockey Association for the 1928-29 season. He played three games with the Hornets over two seasons and returned sporadically to active military service. Green played his last game in Tulsa in 1931-32 when he was forced to hang up his skates after a serious kidney injury. Green died in 1960 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962. He coached the Hamilton Tigers’ senior team for one season in 1932–33 before returning to Sudbury where he first opened a men’s clothing store and in 1937, founded the Sudbury Golf Club with two partners. He ran the club until his death of cancer in 1960. Green was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963.
* Red Green (born 1899) was a left winger who played six seasons in the NHL for Hamilton Tigers, New York Americans and Boston Bruins.
* Dave Hannan from Onaping Falls, played junior hockey in Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie and Brantford. The left winger was drafted in 1981 by the Pittsburgh Penguins. His best statistical season was 1985–86 when he recorded 35 points in 75 games. He also played for Buffalo, Edmonton Toronto. Colorado and Ottawa. He also played on Team Canada which one an Olympic Silver Medal in 1992. He played on Edmonton (1988) and Colorado (1996) when those team won the Stanley Cup. He final season was in Ottawa in 1997.
*George “Shorty” Horne (June 27, 1904 in Sudbury, Ontario – July 31, 1929) was a professional ice hockey right winger who played three seasons in the National Hockey League from 1925 to 1929 for the Montreal Maroons and Toronto Maple Leafs. In 54 career NHL games, he scored nine goals and assisted on three for twelve points. He won a Stanley Cup with the Maroons in 1926. George’s name was left off the Stanley Cup, because he did not play in the playoffs. Horne died in the off-season in 1929 when he drowned while on a canoe with some friends.
* Joe Ironstone was born in Montreal in 1898 but he grew up in Northern Ontario and played in the NOHA with the Sudbury Wolves in the early 1920s. He played goal in just two games in the NHL, one with the New York Americans during the 1925-26 season and one with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1927-28. He died in 1972 in Sudbury at the age of 74.
* Ryan Johnston (born 1992) is the younger brother of Olympic gold medalist and Canadian National Team member Rebecca Johnston. He was signed in 2015 to a two-year, two-way contract with the Canadiens. Johnston played for the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves midget team that captured the 2008 TELUS Cup championship. He went on to a successful career in hockey at Colgate University in New York State before signing with Montreal. He played mostly for the AHL’s St. John’s ice Caps but made his NHL debut in three late season games with Montreal in last season and played seven games with the Habs in the current season.
* Yvon Labre (born 1949) played for junior hockey for the Toronto Marlboros. He was drafted by Pittsburgh and played 37 games for the Penguins before being selected by the Washington Capitals in the 1974 expansion draft. A hard-nosed defenceman, Labre was team captain from 1976 to 1978. He remained in the Capitals organization after his playing career ended. At various times since his retirement, he has served as an assistant coach, colour commentator, scout and the director of community relations for the Capitals. Labre’s jersey number (#7) was retired by the Capitals in 1981. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland and is the owner of a financial services company.
* Marc Laforge (born January 3, 1968 in Sudbury, played defence. the 6 ft 3 in enforcer played three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Kingston Canadians, joiningthe Sudbury Wolves for the 1987–88 OHL season. Fourteen games into the season, Laforge was involved abrawl with the Guelph Platers. Laforge attacked eight different Platers while they were involved in other fights, and he was also accused of driving Plater goaltender Andy Helmuth’s head into the ice. Laforge was given a two-year suspension from the league (the equivalent of a lifetime ban for a 19-year-old in a league with an age limit of 21 for his action.
He was drafted in the second round, 32nd overall, by the Hartford Whalers in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. He played nine games with the Whalers in the 1989–90 season before traded to the Edmonton Oilers in March 6, 1990. He would play five games with the Oilers during the 1993–94 season. He ended his hockey career in the minor leagues in 2001.
* Doug Mohns grew up in Capreol, where his father worked for CN. The Barrie Flyers won two Memorial Cups with Mohns as left wing. Scouted as a teen by Boston, he played 11 years on defence with the Bruins before being traded to Chicago where he played left wing. He ended his career on expansion teams: Minnesota, Atlanta and Washington. Mohns was a seven-time NHL All-Star and the first Bruins defenseman to score 20 goals in a season. After his retirement, Mohns worked in the human resources department at New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Woburn, Mass. At his death, his home was in Bedford, Mass., the Times reported.He died in 2014 at the age of 80.
* Jim Pappin was born in Copper Cliff in 1939. The right-winger was a superb shot and played 14 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs Toronto Maple Leafs (1963-68), Blackhawks Chicago Blackhawks (1968-75), Golden Seals California Golden Seals (1975-76) and Barons Cleveland Barons (1976-77). Won 2 Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs (1964, 67) and led all scorers during the 1967 playoffs with 7 goals and 15 points. In Chicago, he played on a line with Pit Martin and Dennis Hull and were tagged the “M.P.H. Line”. He topped the 20-goal mark 8 times in his career. Had his most productive season in 1972-73 with Chicago, scoring 41 goals and 92 points. Participated in 5 NHL All-Star Games (1964, 68, 73-75). After retiring from hockey, he returned to Sudbury to run a tennis complex, but it went out of business. He got back into hockey by scouting for several NHL teams and eventually moved back to the United States to work as a hockey scout.
* Art Ross, born in Naughton in 1885, played with Kenora and Montreal in the National Hockey Association, retiring as a player in 1918, the year after the NHL was created. In 1924 he became the first coach and general manager of the Boston Bruins. He died in Boston in 1964 after making a lasting impact on the game. In 1947 hedonated the Art Ross Trophy, which is awarded to the leading scorer of the NHL regular season. Ross was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1949.
* Bob Sabourin (born 1933) played one game in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the1951–52 season. The left-winger played in the minor leagues, eventually joining the Jacksonville Rockets of the Eastern Hockey League in the 1960s. He became their head coach and general manager.
* Brian Savage (born 1971) played 12 seasons in the NHL with Montreal, St. Louis, Phoenix and Philadelphia. He played for Team Canada in 1994. He retired as a player in 2006. He appeared on Battle of the Blades in 2013.
Frank St. Marseille
* Dave Tataryn (born 1950) played goal in a couple of games for the New York Rangers during the 1976-77 season but spent most of his career in the minors. He played junior hockey with Niagara Falls and enjoyed three seasons as a Laurentian Voyaguer. (He studied physical and health education at LU. He retired from the Cambridge Hornets (OHA-Sr.) in 1984 and runs a goaltending school near Guelph.
* Dave Taylor was born in Levack in 1955 and began his hockey career with the Huskies in the NOJHA during the 1973-74 season. He played hockey while attending Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1975 Amateur Draft. From 1983 to 1986, Taylor represented Canada at three world championships. He registered his 1,000th point in the NHL on Feb. 15, 1991 at the Philadelphia Spectrum. He retired from the Kings in 1994. Taylor was named the Kings’ vice president and general manager on April 22, 1997. He was relieved of his duties in 2006. Currently, Taylor is vice-president of hockey operations with the St. Louis Blues.
* Floyd Thomson was born in Capreol in 1949. He played in the NOJHA for the Garson Eagles and the Falcons. in September 1970 he signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues He played 411 games for the Blues.
* Jean-Guy Trudel (1971) spent most of his career in the minors and played in Europe with the Swiss National League A. The left winger did play one game for the Phoenix Cayotes and one for Minnisota Wild.He is the coach of the Peoria illinous Rivermen in the SPHL league.
* Jerry Toppazzini left Copper Cliff in 1948 to play in St. Catharines of the OHA. He played with Barrie when they won Memorial Cup in 1951. His NHL career spanned 12 years with the Bruins, Chicago and Detroit. The winger retired as a player in 1968. In 1975, he returned to Sudbury to coach the Wolves. With players such as Mike Foligno, Randy Carlyle, Rod Schutt and Ron Duguay, in his first year as coach, he posted the winningest record in club history and won OHL coach owned the Beef ‘n’ Bird. He died in 2012 at the age of 81.
* Zellio Toppazzini, Jerry’s brother, played 123 games in the NHL for the Rangers, Bruins and Black Hawks. Born in 1930, he died in 2001 at the age of 71.
* Jim Wiemer, (born 1961) played for Buffalo, New York Rangers, Edmonton, Los Angeles and Boston. He played OHA hockey in Peterborough. The defenceman played 325 games in the NHL (387 including playoffs).
* Bob Wilson (born 1934) played in one game for the Chicago Black Hawks during the 1953–54 NHL season. The defenceman continued to play hockey in minor pro and senior leagues until 1970
* Roger Wilson (born 1946) played for the Wolves for one year before heading to the States. He spend most of his career in Dallas but played seven games for the Chicago Black Hawks in 1975.