September 08, 2015

Charlie Cotch

Charlie Cotch, sometimes known as Charlie Kotch, is very much one of the NHL's mystery men. Such is often the case with hockey's earliest players where the printed record is often spotty at best.

Cotch's hometown was Sarnia, Ontario, though years later it turns out he was not born there. He was actually born in Liepaja, Latvia. That was very much Russian territory at the time. His family emigrated to Canada around 1911.

Through impressive diligence by researchers at the Society For International Hockey Research, it seems his birth name was actually Rybiski, based on his mother's death records.

Even his actual birthdate is in question. Sources have him born anywhere from 1898 to 1902, although they all agree it was on February 21st. SIHR suggests 1900 was the year, even though Canadian military records have him born in 1898. They have reason to believe the record was falsified in order to gain employment during World War I, not an uncommon happening at the time.

What is known is that Charlie did play hockey, and he played it very well. From 1922 through 1924 he played for the Vancouver Maroons of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, a big league western alternative to the eastern based NHL. The two league champions would play for the Stanley Cup back in those days. In both seasons the Maroons played for the Stanley Cup, losing to the Montreal Canadiens in 1923 and the Ottawa Senators in 1924.

In 1924 Vancouver traded Charlie to the Canadiens, though he did attend their training camp he never played with the team. He did split the 1924-25 season between the Hamilton Tigers and the Toronto St. Pats, scoring one goal while with Hamilton.

Cotch's hockey record goes silent after that season. At some point he moved to Detroit and became a car tester for Chrysler.

Cotch died at a young age on November 14th, 1932. One SIHR researcher believes it may have been from an automobile accident, but, as with much of Charlie Cotch's life, there is little documented proof to verify this.

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