February 10, 2014

Hockey Players Who Played Other Olympic Sports

Much has been made about Hayley Wickenheiser's status as a two sport star at the Olympics. She is in her 5th Olympics in women's hockey, but she also participated in the 2000 summer Olympics in softball.

That got myself and Tom Hawthorn thinking - what other hockey players participated in other Olympic sports besides hockey?

The easy answer is Syl Apps. He, of course, is the great Toronto Maple Leafs player. The Hockey Hall of Famer and three time Stanley Cup champion (and grandfather of current women's hockey Olympian Gillian Apps) competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Not only did he place 6th in the pole vault, but he was Canada's flag bearer at the opening ceremonies.

But we wondered if there were any more. My old friend Patrick Houda - who I still consider the best hockey researcher on the planet - was quick to our rescue. He found 19 others, including 2 other NHL players! He does caution us that the list is not necessarily complete.

Lets start with the other two NHLers.

The first was Tom Coulter. The Winnipeg native was getting his masters degree in economics from the University of Chicago in the 1930s. He was also the brother of Hockey Hall of Famer Art Coulter, who at the time was playing for the Chicago Blackhawks.  Art convinced the Hawks to give his brother a tryout. Tom would play in only 2 games in his NHL career.

But Tom was actually quite good at a number of sports, including track and field. He competed for Canada in the 440 Hurdles event in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Coulter he was disqualified after knocking down 4 hurdles.

The other NHL Olympian was much more recent. Brockville, Ontario's Hank Lammens, a St. Lawrence University graduate, sailed in the Finn Class at the 1992 Summer Olympics. He took a year off of hockey to accomplish that. He came back and in 1993-94 he played 27 games for the Ottawa Senators, scoring 1 goal and 2 assists.

Houda also lists 18 European players who participated in other Olympic sports. They are mostly from early eras, so bonus points if you have ever heard of these two sport stars before.

But there is one notable early Russian hockey star who if you don't know you should. His named is Vsevolod Bobrov, the first superstar of Russian hockey. He was the original "Russian Rocket," not named for his speed like Pavel Bure but for his comparisons to Montreal's Rocket Richard. It turns out Bobrov was also an excellent soccer player and participated in the 1952 Summer Olympics, scoring 5 goals.

Here are the other European multi-sport stars:

1920,24,28 – Léon Quaglia (France) - One of the fastest skaters in Europe. 16-time French speedskating champ. Won titles 35 years apart. Set many French and world speedskating records. Multiple Olympian in both ice hockey and speedskating. Combined for almost 50 titles in both sports.

1920 and 1924 – Philippe van Volcksom (Belgium) - At the 1924 Winter Olympics he also competed in the speedskating events. Four years later he and his hockey teammate Carlos van den Driessche rowed at the 1928 Summer Olympics.

1920 – Karel Pesek “Kada” (Czechoslovakia) - Captained Czechoslovakia in football at the 1920 and 1924 summer Olympics. He ordered his player off the pitch in the 1920 Olympic final (because of the referee) and thus Czechoslovakia got disqualified, otherwise he would have had a bronze medal in ice hockey (1920) and at least a silver in football (1920). That would have made him the only Olympic ice hockey player to also have won a medal in another Olympic sport.

1924 – Victor Versheuren (Belgium) - Was a solid goaltender in ice hockey but was more known as an excellent bobsledder who won the Olympic bronze in that sport 1924 (four man bob). Ice hockey goalie for Belgium at those same Olympics.

1924, 1928 and 1936 – Albert Hassler (France) - Also a very good speedskater and was an Olympian in that sport as well. Also extremely proud of his daughter Nicole, a figure skater who he coached himself. She participated in two Winter Olympics 1960-64.

1924 and 1936 – Carlos van den Driesche (Belgium) - Aside from his ice hockey participation at the 1924 and 1936 Olympics, he also rowed at the 1928 Olympics together with his hockey teammate Philippe van Volckxsom.

1924 and 1936 – Louis de Ridder (Belgium) - Multi-talented sportsman who competed in three different sports during the Winter Olympics. Aside from playing ice hockey both in 1924 and 1936, he also competed in Speed Skating, finishing 19th in both 500 m and 1,500 m in 1924. In 1936 he finished 5th in the four man Bobsleigh event.

1924 – André Poplimont (Belgium) - Also competed in the summer Olympics, finishing fourth in team fencing 1932.

1928 – Tibor Heinrich (Hungary) - Participated in the Summer Olympics (Sailing 1928 and 1936).

1928 and 1936 – Mátyás Farkas (Hungary) - Very good athlete and competed as a decathlete at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

1936 – Béla Háray (Hungary) - Also represented Hungary in Field Hockey at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

1936 – István Hircsák (Hungary) - Also represented Hungary in Field Hockey at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

1926 – Ferenc Szamosi-Stoics (Hungary) - Represented Hungary both in ice hockey and field hockey at the 1936 Winter and Summer Olympics.

1936 – Sven Bergqvist (Sweden) – Represented Sweden in football at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

1936 – Arvids Jürgens (Latvia) - Was the football goalie for Latvia against France during the 1924 Summer Olympics.

1948 – Hans-Jörg Reichl (Austria) - Also a very good waterpolo player and represented Austria in that sport during the 1952 Summer Olympics.

1952 – Björn Gulbrandsen I (Norway) - Also excellent in sailing and participated in that sport during the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, finishing in 7th place.

1952 – Keijo Kuusela (Finland) - The only Finnish athlete to compete both in the Summer and Winter Olympics. He played ice hockey at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, but also participated in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki as a Field hockey player.

1964 – Igor Radin (Yugoslavia) - The only Slovenian athlete to participate both at the Summer and Winter Olympics. Represented Yugoslavia in Rowing 1960 (Rome) and Ice Hockey 1964 (Innsbruck).

So there we go. It turns out hockey players can also be excellent pole vaulters, sailors, footballers and water polo players amongst other sports.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Joe, you forgot Russian great Vsevolod Bobrov who was the captain of USSR football and hockey teams in 1952 and 1956 Games respectively.