November 09, 2014

Gene Achtymichuk

Gene Achtymichuk's tongue-twister last name left everyone to call him by his obvious moniker - "Acky."

Acky, a 5'11" 170lbs center from Lamont Alberta was a well travelled minor league star, posting some Gretzky-like assist totals late in his career with the EHL's Knoxville Knights and Long Island Ducks.

But at one time he was a prized prospect in Montreal's farm system. In fact, he was called up in the 1957-58 season to replace the injured Jean Beliveau. Talk about big skates to fill! Acky scored 3 goals and 8 points in 16 games with Beliveau's linemates, Boom Boom Geoffrion and Bert Olmstead.

Life is funny sometimes. When Beliveau returned from injury Acky was to be returned to the minor leagues, but his replacement during his absence, a young center named Ralph Backstrom, had played so well that Acky had lost his spot on the team. Montreal would solve the problem by selling Acky and two other minor league players to Detroit for the 1958-59 season.

Acky had a 12 game audition with the Wings, playing with a couple of guys you may have heard of - Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe. But Acky failed to pick up a point and was sent to the minor leagues.

Acky may not have minded his minor league assignment too much as he was able to return home to Alberta and play with the Edmonton Flyers for parts of three seasons before becoming a minor league vagabond for most the 1960s. For a time he would even be a playing coach for the Long Island Ducks, replacing coach John Muckler.

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