August 29, 2015

Doug Baldwin

Defenseman Doug Baldwin was a Winnipeg junior star who later played with some strong senior amateur teams in Quebec City and Chatham, Ontario. He also had a brief career in the National Hockey League.

In 1941 Baldwin helped the Winnipeg Rangers win the Memorial Cup as Canada's national junior champions. Glen Harmon was on the Winnipeg blue line, too, but interestingly no other player went on to taste much success in the National Hockey League. One newspaper report suggested the junior team's great success was due to the fantastic play of Baldwin - "the best junior defenseman in the province" - and the team's propensity to backcheck.

Baldwin would get his taste in the NHL, but not until after playing three seasons with the powerful Quebec Aces in senior hockey competition. The Aces would memorably win the Allan Cup championship on home ice in 1944. They won the Quebec senior title again in 1945, but World War II saw the Allan Cup not played that year. For all their success on the ice, the Aces of his era were controversial in that they relied a lot on English Canadian imports like Baldwin.

Baldwin turned pro for the 1945-46 season, finding a minor league home with Kansas City of the USHL. He also 24 NHL over three seasons immediately following World War II. He played for Toronto, Detroit and Chicago, picking up one assist. It seems an emergency appendectomy ended his 15 game trial in Toronto - his best shot at making it in the NHL.

He was noted as being "a proponent of possession-type hockey" decades before that term was dreamed up. He was a fine skater and a clean player who used his stick effectively to defend rather than physical, brute force.

He retired as a pro in 1950 but by mid-decade found himself playing competitive senior hockey after four seasons off the ice. He helped the Chatham Maroons become Allan Cup finalists in 1956.

After hockey Baldwin was a busy man. He relocated some 75km north of Winnipeg to Gimli, Manitoba - a picturesque small town the BBC once dubbed as "New Iceland." He owned the Shoreliner Hotel in Gimli, Manitoba for a time. He also was a general contractor and built multiple buildings and warehouses across Western Canada. And for several years he relocated to Brampton, Ontario and worked for a company that handled wholesale carpeting and flooring.

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