August 31, 2017
Hockey Heroes: The Milkman Claire Alexander
Claire Alexander had a most interesting nickname: The Milkman
It turns out his nickname came by obviously enough. He gave up his job as a milkman in Orillia, Ontario. The Collingwood, Ontario born Alexander had a good job and was a senior league star with the Terriers when he was convinced to turn professional in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.
After spending a season in the minor leagues with Oklahoma of the CHL, Alexander made his NHL debut at the age of 29 in 1974-75. He would play parts of three seasons with the Leafs, and later single seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and WHA Edmonton Oilers. He was said to be a solid defensive defenseman with a good shot.
When the Oilers joined the NHL in 1979 they left Alexander behind. He went to Germany to play for a couple of seasons. He would also coach a junior team there, and another in Switzerland for one year, before returning home to southern Ontario.
By this time Alexander's milkman job was long gone so he opened up a sporting good store in Orillia. He and Pat Stapleton opened up an instructional hockey academy before Alexander took the offer of coaching the Leafs farm team down the road in St. Catherines in 1984.
The Leafs must have thought highly of Alexander, as after one year of coaching the farm team they offered him an assistant coaching job back in the NHL. But Alexander turned it down, and ended up leaving the organization entirely, as he was unhappy away from his family. He returned home to Orillia and worked on construction sites installing exterior windows on buildings.
Claire Alexander's daughter, Buffy, became one of Canada's most successful rowers, winning silver medals at 1997 and 1998 world championships and bronze medals in successive the 1998 and 1999 world championships and 2000 Olympics. She also competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games.
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