March 08, 2016

Bobby Copp

Though Bobby Copp played 40 games on the Toronto Maple Leafs blue line and was an outstanding senior hockey star in Ottawa, his destiny was not to be a hockey star. He was an academic who went on to a 58 year career as a dentist.

Copp was born in Port Elgin, New Brunswick. He loved the game of hockey and it was apparent early on he was very good at it.

But Copp would not take a conventional route to the NHL. The hard hitting rearguard did not play any serious level of junior hockey, as he was headed to Mount Allison University to pursue his studies beginning in 1934. Copp's post-graduate studies saw him move to the University of Toronto in 1938.

It was in Toronto where Copp's abilities on the ice were finally getting noticed by NHL teams. His coach there was Irvine "Ace" Bailey, the former Leafs great.

Unfortunately the Second World War forced the Canadian university hockey off the ice on temporary hiatus after the 1939-40 season. Copp continued his studies while playing senior hockey for the Toronto Marlboros.

Before his schooling was done Copp enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces as a studying dentist. He would remain in Toronto to sharpen his skills on military patients while continuing to study.

At the same time he began playing in the National Hockey League. He joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1942-43 season. Because of his military and scholastic commitments, he was not permitted to leave the country, which meant no road games against the American teams.

Copp officially joined the army by March of 1943, ending his season with the Leafs prematurely. Copp called that season "the best year of my life."

Copp soon found himself serving with the Royal Canadian Dental Corps in Ottawa.  He was also able to play senior hockey in the nation's capital. He would go on to a legendary senior career in Ottawa for many years beyond his war commitments.

Copp remained in Ottawa, starting a dental practice while also picking up $200 a week playing defense for the senior Ottawa Senators for nine seasons. It was more than enough for Copp to eschew the Maple Leafs offers to return to the NHL once the war was over.

It was a decision Copp never regretted, especially in 1949 when he captained the Senators to the Allan Cup championship as the top amateur team in Canada.

Copp did briefly return to the Leafs in the 1950-51 season as an emergency injury fill-in. Leafs defensemen. With both Bill Barilko and Huge Bolton unable to play, Copp played two more games for the Leafs before returning to Ottawa.

Copp stepped off the ice for good in 1955 and focused on his dentistry practice. He passed away in 2006.

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