August 26, 2015

Chico Maki

Chico Maki was born on August 17, 1939 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He moved to the Simcoe area in the 1950s to play hockey. It is there where the hard working right winger caught the eye of the Chicago Blackhawks.

He began playing for their junior affiliate, the St. Catharines Teepees, during the 1956-57 season. It would be the start of a 20 year on-ice career in the Black Hawks organization.

Maki would spend four seasons with the Teepees, playing with Stan Mikita. No one ever confused Maki with the superstars of hockey, but in junior hockey he put together some spectacular seasons.

In the 1958-59 season, he recorded 94 points, just three behind the great Mikita. He even led the league with 41 goals.

The next season Mikita had graduated and left St. Catherines. Maki, along with Ray Cullen and Vic Hadfield, led all scorers with 92 points and the captained the Teepees to the Memorial Cup championship.

His professional career began in the 1960-61 season, and, after apprenticing in the minor leagues, became a full time Chicago Black Hawks player in 1962-63. For the next decade and a half he was an unsung battler for the Hawks. He refused to be outworked and thrived doing the dirty work digging for pucks in the corners and along the boards. He was a strong enough player to not only retrieve the puck but then make a play with it, often setting up a sharp shooter like Bobby Hull or Phil Esposito.

Maki was also a penalty killing regular with the Hawks. He was also a strong defensive player. Coach Billy Reay would often use the winger at center ice when playing Montreal in order to match him up against the great Jean Beliveau.

During that time, he was one of the unsung Blackhawks during the team’s successes in the 1960s and early 1970s. He was the guy that went into the corners and did the dirty work, setting up the likes of Hull and Esposito.

After 13 season with the Blackhawks, Maki retired in 1974, only to return to the team in the 1975-76 season for one more year. In total Maki collected 143 goals and 292 assists in 841 regular-season games and added 17 goals and 53 points in 113 playoff games. He was unfailingly loyal to the Hawks.

After leaving the ice he returned to the Simcoe area and did a number of jobs including farming, running a motel and working in a manufacturing plant.

The hockey legend passed away Monday at his home in Port Dover at the age of 76.

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