Tag Archives: Aggie Kukulowicz

The Show on the Road

Years ago, before the National Hockey League became the massive corporate machine it is today, big league squads would often spend part of their preseason playing various senior and minor league teams, teams that usually belonged to the big club, in smaller towns in smaller rinks throughout the country.

The Montreal Canadiens in the 1950s, for example, would take their Stanley Cup squad to places like Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Trail, and Trois Rivieres for example, to play the local club in front of a few thousand lucky people. Hockey fans would see the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, Plante and the rest, close up and personal, and it was often before many people had TVs and had until then only known these players through radio and newspapers.

Simply a tremendous treat for the locals.

The old program below shows the NHL New York Rangers in Edmonton to take on the Edmonton Flyers of the Western Hockey League before the start of the 1955-56 season. The Rangers iced the full lineup, as teams often did for these games, with Gump Worsley in nets for the Blueshirts.

For Edmonton, future New York Islanders coach Al Arbour is in the lineup, as is Aggie Kukulowicz, who later became known as the interpreter for the 1972 Soviet squad during the Summit Series.

Players from lesser leagues embraced the chance to show what they had against an NHL team. It could sometimes help decide their future. And of course, the fans were also big winners.

At one time, years ago, I tried to sell this old program on ebay, with a starting bid of something like 10 bucks. I didn’t get one bid and decided to hold on to it.

I like it a lot. It’s from another time, on good thick paper stock, and there are so many familiar names here; Bathgate, Worsley, Howell, Gadsby, Horvath, Dea, Melnyk, Poile et al.

Please excuse the two colours. The cover was taken with one camera late in the day, and second page was with another camera the next morning.

I guess it doesn’t matter.

Live, From The Edmonton Gardens

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Neat old 4-page program I came across years ago, featuring the visiting New York Rangers playing the minor pro WHL Edmonton Flyers in an exhibition game prior to the 1955-56 season.

It’s actually a yellow program, but my camera gives it a bluish tint.

The Rangers lineup is packed with familiar names, including future HOFers Gump Worsley, Harry Howell, Bill Gadsby, and Andy Bathgate.

But the Edmonton Flyers has its share of names too, with Al Arbour, Jerry Melnyk, Bill Dea and a handful of others, plus #17 Aggie Kukulowicz, who, along with playing four games with the Rangers between 1952 and ’54, acted as a translator for Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series.

The Flyers, which existed from 1940 to 1963, were a Detroit Red Wings farm club, and also shows Johnny McCormack, who played for the Canadiens from 1951 to ’54, in the lineup.

Players on the Rangers who would don the Canadiens sweater at one time or another include the Gumper from 1963-64 to 1969-70; Ivan Irvin, who skated with the Habs for 4 games in the 1952-53 season; Lou Fontinato, with117 Habs games under his belt in 1961-62 and ’62-63; Jean-Guy Gendron, who was a Canadien for 43 games in 1960-61; and Bronco Horvath, who wore the CH for one game in1956-57;

And coach Phil Watson, who laced ’em up with the Habs for 44 games during the 1943-44 campaign.

I hope I haven’t missed anybody.  If I have, feel free to mention it.

The Edmonton Gardens, where this game took place, was built in 1913 and demolished in 1982, although years before the demolition, in 1974, the WHA Oilers moved over to the new Northlands Coliseum.

 

Taking The Show On The Road

Years ago, before the National Hockey League became the Wall Street-watching, unionized, big ticket machine it is today, teams of the original six would often spend part of their pre-season playing various senior teams that usually belonged to the big club, in smaller towns in smaller rinks throughout the country. The Montreal Canadiens, for example, would take their Stanley Cup team to Sault Ste. Marie or Trois Rivieres to play the local club in front of five or six thousand lucky people. People would see close up the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, Plante, and the rest.

It was the same with the other teams, although frankly, I’m having a hard time finding examples of the Leafs doing this. But the other teams did for sure, and it must have been a real treat for the locals. Kind of like the Vancouver Canucks coming to Powell River to play some serious hockey against the two-time Allan Cup winning Powell River Regals.

This old program shows the NHL New York Rangers in Edmonton to take on the Edmonton Flyers of the senior Western Hockey League in 1955. The Rangers iced the full lineup, as teams did for these games, and Gump Worsley, who later had a stellar career in Montreal, is the goaltender. For Edmonton, future New York Islanders coach Al Arbour is in the lineup, as is Aggie Kukulowicz, who later became known as the translater for the 1972 Soviet squad during the Summit Series.

Senior teams in those days were considered only a notch below the American Hockey League in talent, and players embraced the chance to show their wares against an NHL team. It could decide their future. And of course, the real winners were the fans.

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