April 28, 2015

Bucky Buchanan

Bucky Buchanan jumped from the Montreal Junior Canadiens directly to service in Canada's navy in the country's World War II efforts. It may have cost him a shot at the NHL because this Navy man was more of a machine gunner on the ice, setting scoring records every where he went.

Buchanan was able to continue to play hockey during his naval service as he was based at ports in Canada, mostly Montreal. He led the league in scoring three times.

Upon his release from the war, Buchanan turned pro and headed for sunshine and adventure. He ended up signing with the San Francisco Shamrocks in the little known Pacific Coast Hockey League, A few future NHL players played in this California league, including the famous Bill Barilko who played a stretch for the Hollywood Wolves.

Buchanan was one of the first hockey stars in California. In his first season, he scored 50 goals in just 40 games. That was in 1945-46, one season after Rocket Richard set the NHL record with 50 goals in 50 games.

The following season Buchanan set a PCHL record with 66 goals scored (in 57 games).

Buchanan headed home to Quebec after his California adventure. He played several years in Shawinigan (where he was, at times, the playing coach) and a couple seasons each in Quebec City and Chicoutimi. Twice he was named the winner of the Byng of Vimy trophy as the Quebec league's most valuable player.

Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers secured Buchanan's rights. As an amateur player Buchanan was able to play up to three games for the Rangers without losing his amateur status. In February 1949, with the Rangers losing Edgar Laprade and Nick Mickoski to injury, Buchanan was brought in to play what proved to be his only two games of his NHL career.

Bucky Buchanan's career ended playing with the little known Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Eastern Ontario Hockey League. In 1958 he suffered a severe eye injury and had to spend weeks in a hospital in Boston for several weeks to recover. He was never able to return to the ice.

A benefit game in Pembroke was held to cover his expenses, raising nearly $1000. His 12 year old son Ron, who would one day play in the NHL himself, dropped the puck at that benefit game.

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