August 03, 2015

Bobby Walton

In the 1970s one of the most electrifying - and enigmatic - hockey players of the era was Mike "Shakey" Walton. He could head-fake the best of defenders and stickhandle in a phone booth. What a lot of people do not realize is Walton inherited his popular nickname from his father - a NHL player in the 1940s, albeit for a short time.

Ottawa-born Bobby Walton was a junior and senior hockey sensation in the nation's capital. He helped the Ottawa Rideau's to reach the Memorial Cup and Allan Cup tournaments.

In 1934 Walton crossed the Atlantic and played four seasons for the Wembley Lions in England. For a brief period of time prior to World War II a lot of Canadians found hockey jobs in a competitive English hockey league. Walton was one of it's greatest stars.

Upon his return to Canada in 1937 Walton was lured to Kirkland Lake, Ontario where he played with the famed Lake Shore Blue Devils senior team.  With Bill Durnan in net and Hal Cooper and Dick Kowcinak filling the opposition's net with pucks, the Blue Devils won the Allan Cup as Canada's amateur champions in 1940.

The Allan Cup victory was a big deal back then, and opened many hockey doors for champions. Walton would travel to Niagara Falls, Nova Scotia, Montreal, Sudbury, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Washington, chasing pucks and filling nets. He once led the American Hockey League in scoring.

While in Montreal he starred with the Montreal Royals of the Quebec senior circuit. The NHL's Montreal Canadiens certainly took note of his exploits and signed him to a contract in 1942. He would play primarily in the minor leagues, but did earn a four game call up in the 1943-44 season. He went scoreless in very limited playing time.

Walton retired to Kirkland Lake and raised two sons to elite levels of play - the aforementioned Mike and Rob, who played in the WHA and in the minors but never did make it to the National Hockey League.

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