Chick Webster

Yes, yes, he’s wearing a Rangers uniform. Please don’t hold that against him.


Over the past few months I’ve chatted and exchanged emails with 93-year old John “Chick” Webster and his son Rob, both of whom live up in the North Bay area. Serious hockey country. Cold winters.

Chick played just 14 games in the NHL, all with the Rangers during the 1949-50 season, but was a solid minor leaguer in the EHL, AHL, PCHL, and WHL.

An example of a fine player who couldn’t crack the bigs because in those days, only 120 could.

Real nice fellow, who says he’s not like so many others of his generation who insist the game was better way back when. It’s great now and he enjoys watching, he says. But if he and others shot the puck in the way they do now, they’d be benched. “We had to carry it in, there was none of that”.

A guy who played hockey when the pay was low and you didn’t shoot it in.

Chick was playing for Baltimore in the Eastern Hockey League in 1940-41 and decided to enlist. “I figured the war would go on for a few months, maybe a year, and then I’d come right back and carry on.

Five years later he finally got back to Baltimore.

Chick also played for the notorious Eddie Shore while with Syracuse, and says he was a terrible boss, which is also what anyone who ever played for Shore says. “Shore said we should never take time off, and if there was no ice available, we were supposed to practice on the streets. I ended up quitting.”

He would soon have a cup of coffee with the Vancouver Canucks of the old Western Hockey League, and ended up playing senior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie of the Northern Ontario Hockey league.

It’s also a family affair. Chick’s brother Don played for the Leafs in 1943-44. Rob’s nephew Jason Lafreniere was a Nordiques, a Ranger, and a Tampa Bay Lightning. And Jason’s dad helped win the Memorial Cup for the Hamilton Red Wings back in 1962.

Good people, these Websters. I should ask Chick who he’s cheering for in the Habs-Rangers series.


11 thoughts on “Chick Webster”

  1. Carrying the puck into the zone. What a concept!

    The Habs should consider this option. Because dumping and chasing the puck hasn’t been tremendously effective against the Rangers.


    On an unrelated note, Although Tokarski has been terrific, there is one aspect of Price’s game the Habs are missing.

    Price is like a third defenceman the way he handles the puck and passes it around to clear the zone. Tokarski seems hesitant to make those kind of plays and often takes the safe route by freezing the puck instead of going for an outlet pass to one of the defence.

    This means we are getting stuck with a lot more face offs in our zone than we would if we had Price. We haven’t been that great on faceoffs lately so it means we are stuck trying to chase down Rangers forwards, regain possession and move the puck out. It ends up having a snowball effect by reducing our chances and wearing everyone out.

    The loss of Price has had a big impact on the effectiveness of our defence, in my opinion.

    Not to take anything away from Tokarski who has been outstanding, but Price’s superior puck handling in our zone makes a huge difference in my opinion.

  2. Great piece, Dennis. I love hearing about the old-timers and their opinions on today’s game. I read a really good (and recent) biography on Shore a few months back and he was a really rotten boss, but most of it was because he was just so damned cheap and miserly. Ran everything on a shoestring. What an amazing hockey player though. One of those “generational” talents.

  3. My son is a huge Rangers fan and has had the privilege of meeting Chick and hearing his hockey stories. He proudly hangs his autographed picture on his bedroom wall. Chick is the nicest man. He gave my son a tour of his basement displaying his hockey momentos. Thanks Chick for making his day!

  4. Absolutely true Danno about how Price handles the puck and helps his team that way. It does make a difference. To change the subject slightly, I saw online a clip of Emelin during the sequence that led up to St. Louis’ goal and he was lazy, out of position, and wasn’t trying at all. Either he was dead tired or this is completely unacceptable. Like I said in my game recap, in the playoffs, you have to sweat and sometimes bleed. It doesn’t come easy, and there can be no passengers.

  5. Thanks Travis. Yes, Shore was one of the all-time greats, and also completely out in left field. I think I’ll go to the library and hopefully order that Shore book in.

  6. Thanks Corinne. Isn’t it great when someone people look up to are truly nice. It restores faith in mankind.

  7. Price’s playmaking would often prevent situations from happening which would lead to defencemen like Emelin being out of position, trapped and tired.

    And Price was excellent at firing the puck off the glass and down the ice to kill penalties. His long passes up the ice to an open man would often lead to great scoring chances too.

    These are the little things that make a huge difference but take time to master.

    I hope Price can make a surprise return to the game at some point. If not this series then in the finals.

    Habs in seven!!!

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