July 23, 2016

Gus Marker

Gus Marker was born in Wetaskewin, but there was no hockey team for him to even think about playing until he was 14 years old. At that time a senior team was formed, and Marker, who barely knew how to skate, tried out for the team.

"They just had town teams in those days," he explained. "They had players 35 years old and down."

"Hockey came real natural-like to me," he said.

Two years later he moved to Camrose and really developed his game with some better coaching.

Playing against such older competition allowed Marker to hone his game nicely. He would go on to play in 326 games in the NHL between 1932 and 1942. He scored 64 goals and 69 assists.

Marker originally had to apprentice in the minor leagues in Tulsa and Detroit before getting his NHL shot with the Red Wings late in the 1933 season. He would help the Wings reach the Stanley Cup final against the Black Hawks from Chicago.

He was traded to the Montreal Maroons for the 1934-35 season. He would enjoy four solid seasons with the Maroons, including a Stanley Cup championship in 1935. The Maroons beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in three consecutive games in the final, with Marker scoring the last goal of the series. . Marker scored the last goal of the third game.

"Cy Wentworth stole the puck for us and broke down the ice with Nick Metz chasing him," he recalled. "I was trailing but at the blueline I caught up. Cy passed the puck to me, took Metz out, and I was in all alone on George Hainsworth, the Toronto goalie."

By this time Marker had established himself as one of the hardest workers in the NHL - a "tiger on the ice."

"He'd take the man out and leave the puck for the defenceman. In his day, many people said he was tougher than Gordie Howe," said a long time friend and Ontario Supreme Court Judge Bill Henderson upon Marker's death in 1997

Marker joined the Toronto Maple Leafs shortly after the Maroons disappeared. He would play three seasons and later coach in the Leafs farm system.

He settled in Kingston, Ont., started a ready-mix and concrete-block business and built a subdivision. He had two of the streets named hockey superstars Charlie Conacher and Howie Morenz. He later invested in a farm and an apartment complex.

Marker was never afraid to work, be it on the ice or off of it.

"Hockey was a decent-enough living, but a fellow couldn't just lay around in summer waiting for the next season to start. You took off your skates and went to work doing something or other."

He was also known to pan for gold in northern Quebec and work on a steamboat in the Northwest Territories. Another time he purchased two train cars full of porridge and repackaged them as his own cereal.

Today Gus Marker is remembered with a trophy in his name honouring the top amateur athlete in the Kingston area.

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