August 26, 2015

Cummy Burton

Cumming Burton, known to everyone as the loveable Cummy, was a proud Subury, Ontario boy who went on to a notable hockey career. That included playing right wing for the Detroit Red Wings for a total of 46 games in the 1950s. He never scored a goal, and managed only two assists.

At first glance that seems like a pretty unremarkable stint in the National Hockey League. But for Burton it was a life long dream realized.

Burton grew up having a strong connection to his beloved Red Wings. That was because his hockey hero was his uncle Larry Aurie, a former star in Detroit. He starred with the Red Wings back in the 1930s, winning two Stanley Cups and once leading the entire National Hockey League in goals. Although his number has never been officially retired, his number was taken out of circulation in honour of his achievements, never to be worn again.

With one exception - nephew Cummy Burton.

Burton called Uncle Larry "a brother" as well as his hockey hero. Burton took great advantage of this relationship to study hockey. At a young age would often attend Oshawa Generals practices, as Aurie was coaching the famed junior team. In addition to studying the players and coach during practice, Burton would often get to go on the ice afterwards, and have sessions with the coach.

As Burton himself rose up the junior ranks, starring first with the Windsor Spitfires and then the Hamilton Tiger Cubs, Aurie would often travel to watch his young nephew in Windsor, but died far too young in 1952. He was never able to see his beloved nephew play for the Detroit Red Wings.

In his final season of junior, Burton was called up for his first three games to replace the injured Murray Costello in March, 1956. He was offered to wear number six in honour of Aurie, but refused at that time, taking 21 instead. He wanted to earn a full time spot on Wings roster before wearing number six.

Upon turning pro in 1956-57, the Wings sent Burton to the Edmonton Flyers to apprentice in the minor leagues, but used him for a total of 40 games over the following two season. He did wear Aurie's number six - the last, presumably forever, Red Wing to do so.

Described as a rugged player never strayed from his position, no goals and two assists suggest Burton was not much of a player with the puck. Nonetheless, Uncle Larry Aurie would have been proud.

Burton's NHL days were done but he soon returned to his hometown to play three seasons with the Sudbury Wolves, then an Eastern Professional Hockey League franchise. He was a consistent scorer on a team which, at various times, included Real Chevrefils, Don Cherry, and Jim Pappin.

Fromn there he bounced around the minor leagues until his retirement in 1968. Following his on ice career Burton returned to Sudbury and became a broadcaster of Wolves games. He was unapologetically the Wolves' biggest fan.

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