August 01, 2015

Bob Kirkpatrick

Bob Kirkpatrick was a well travelled hockey player. He played all through out the Canadian prairies, crossed the pond to play in England, and enjoyed the bright lights of the big city - New York!

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, this tiny sized center joined the Regina Pats junior team just in time for the Memorial Cup tournament in 1934. He then went on to become a senior star in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and Lethbridge, Alberta.

Described as a quick and shifty skater, Kirkpatrick had an adventure in the 1936-37 season, leaving Canada for London, England to play for the Earl's Court Royals, right in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea.

That experience may have only been trumped by the bright lights and tall buildings of New York, New York. When Kirkpatrick first turned pro he spent the 1941-42 season playing with the New York Rovers of the Eastern Hockey League. They were a farm team of the NHL's New York Rangers, and at that time they, too, played at Madison Square Gardens right in the heart of Manhattan.

In 1942-43 Kirkpatrick switched teams and leagues, but it was the easiest move a hockey player could ever make. He graduated to the NHL and the New York Rangers. And all he had to do was switch dressing rooms. Kirkpatrick would score 12 goals and 24 points in 49 games for the Rangers that year, often playing on the top line with Lynn Patrick and Bryan Hextall, thanks to some injuries throughout the roster.

A big reason Kirkpatrick got his NHL opportunity was because NHL rosters were becoming greatly depleted as NHL stars joined the Allied war efforts in World War II. Kirkpatrick's own military commitments came due shortly after what proved to be his only NHL season. For the next two years he was enlisted in the Canadian Army, though he was mostly based in Winnipeg - a key Canada's military center at that time.

Kirkpatrick never did make it back to the big leagues. He moved to St. Paul, Minnesota for a couple of seasons before returning to Lethbridge to finish his career and the decade as a senior star once again.

Although the statistical record is non-existent, it seems Kirkpatrick may have come out of retirement in 195 to help the Lethbridge Maple Leafs defeat the Melville Millionaires to win the inaugural Churchill Cup. This victory gave Lethbridge the opportunity to tour Europe and represent Canada at the 1951 World Championships, which they also won. However Kirkpatrick did not take part on the European adventure.

Kirkpatrick remained in Alberta until his death in 1988.

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