April 28, 2014

Hockey Hall of Famer Edgar Laprade, 93, Passes Away

Hockey Hall of Famer Edgar Laprade has passed away. He was 93 years old.

Born in Mine Centre, Ontario on October 10, 1919, Edgar Laprade moved to Port Arthur, Ontario as a four year old with his family. It was in Port Arthur where Laprade established himself as an amateur hockey legend before moving on to the National Hockey League.

After being a junior standout in Port Arthur, Edgar joined the local senior team named the Bearcats from 1938 until 1943. Edgar helped the Bearcats win the Allan Cup championship in 1939, something that Edgar considered one of the greatest moments of his life. The Allan Cup was given to the best senior team in all of Canad and at one time was nearly as highly regarded as the Stanley Cup. Laprade was also a two time MVP and two time leading scorer in the Thunder Bay Senior Hockey League.

Laprade joined the Canadian Army Ordinance Corps on October 20, 1943. Despite serving for his country he still managed to find time for his passion. He played in one game with the Ottawa Commandos of the Quebec Senior Hockey League before being transferred to Winnipeg and played for Army in the Winnipeg Services Hockey League until it was disbanded in January 1944. The following year, Laprade was stationed in Kingston and played with the Barriefield Bears in the Kingston Hockey League senior league.

After the war ended, Laprade was finally lured into the world of professional hockey. The Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers, who had put him on their negotiation list as a junior in 1938 were the two most interested parties. The Rangers won that bidding war when they gave him a $5000 bonus for his mortgage on a house in Port Arthur. He joined the Rangers in 1945-46 and played with them until he retired 1954-55.

A two time team MVP, Edgar captured the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie in 1946 and the Lady Byng Trophy as the NHL's Most Gentlemanly Player in 1950. He was selected to play in four consecutive NHL All Star Games from 1947 through 1950.

While Edgar was able to display his true hockey talents in his first few years in the NHL, a serious ankle injury in 1952 really humbled the effortless skater. He actually retired after the 1951-52 season only to return the following year. He played until 1955 but numerous injuries limited Laprade's effectiveness.

Known as "Beaver" because of his hustle and work ethic on the ice, Laprade was known as a aggressive but very clean player. Twice he went the entire season without recording a single penalty minute, and only had 42 PIM in in his 500 NHL game career. He was also known as a play making center with great speed and athleticism. He was a tremendous defensive player as well, making him one of the greatest two way centers in NHL history. A strong back checker and prolific penalty killer, Laprade perfected the "poke check" as an effective strategy.

He was a small man in stature, standing just 5'10" and weighing in at 160lbs. But he was the biggest member of his "Three Little Shaefers" line, with wingers Tony Leswick (5'7" 160lbs) and Knobby Warwick (5'5" 155lbs).

Laprade scored 108 goals and 172 assists for 280 points in 500 regular season games, all with the Rangers. While he never hoisted the Stanley Cup, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the veteran's category in 1993.

Edgar retired from hockey to return to Ontario. He opened a sporting goods store and was involved in local politics.

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