July 31, 2015

Chuck Hamilton

When Kirkland Lake, Ontario's Chuck Hamilton played his first NHL game with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1961-62 season, he hoped many more games would follow.

It would take more than a decade before he played game number two.

Not that hockey was even Chuck's ultimate goal in life.

"Most of us set out just to be able to work," he told author Richard Buell in his book The Glory Of The Game: Hockey Heroes, History and Heritage From The Mile Of Gold. "I had promised my dad I wasn't going to be stuck working in the mines, and I had promised him I would get an education, and that's what I did."

While Hamilton graduated with his high school diploma, he was more famous locally for his athletic pursuits than his academic ones. He was a star both on the ice and on the football field.

The Chicago Blackhawks had zeroed in on Hamilton and tried to get him to sign the required "C Form" in the days before there was a NHL draft. But he refused to sign as he wanted to keep his options open for possibly attending a US college hockey program.

The Montreal Canadiens then invited him to play with their junior team the Peterborough Petes, playing under coaches like Teeder Kennedy and a young Scotty Bowman. He was billeted by Eddie and Marion Redmond. Their sons Mickey and Dick loved having a Petes hockey star in their house. One day they would go on to the NHL, too.

After graduating with the Petes Hall accepted a hockey scholarship at the University of Michigan though he withdrew early. He finally signed with the Montreal Canadiens organization so he could play with the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens farm team. That arrangement allowed Hall to complete a Bachelor's Degree in mathematics from Carleton University in Ottawa.

Meanwhile, on the ice the Canadiens converted Hamilton from a forward to a defenseman. He would play four seasons with Hull-Ottawa, getting called up to play with Montreal for that single game, before moving to Hershey to play with the AHL Bears for his eight seasons, winning a Calder Cup in 1970.

A nasty pre-season leg injury cost him the entire 1970-71 season but he ame back and played with the league champion Denver Spurs of the WHL the next season. He would spend one last season in Denver, getting called up to the NHL to play three games with the St. Louis Blues.

When he left the ice he did not go far as he found success by stepping behind the bench. He coached in the AHL through the 1970s, winning the AHL Coach of the Year in 1974-75.

Hamilton later became an account executive for an electronics firm near Hershey. He later sold General Electric products throughout the Midwest.

Hamilton retired, living in Collingwood, Ontario in the summer and Punta Gorda, Florida in the winters.

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