Tag Archives: Rochester Americans

Stars of the World’s Fastest Game

In the picture below, four Orillia minor hockey players smile for the camera. And the father of one of these young players played 27 games in the NHL, scoring one goal and collecting 31 penalty minutes.

The father was Jack Dyte, one of my coaches when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for the Byers Bulldozers juveniles. Jack played those 27 games with the Chicago Black Hawks during the 1943-44 campaign.

Jack was a quiet, no-nonsense, tobacco-chewing coach and I think he wasn’t crazy about my lack of focus and my humming of Beatles songs as I skated around the ice. But I guess he liked me enough to drive Ron Clarke and I to Barrie one day to see an exhibition game between the AHL Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Americans, who had a defenceman on the team named Don Cherry.

Ron and I watched the game from the Bisons bench as sort of unofficial stick boys, and we were given autographed sticks afterward.

I’m guessing Jack stayed and partied with his old hockey buddies because Ron and I had to take the bus back to Orillia. And I had forgotten that Jack had driven us there until Ron reminded me a couple of years ago.

The newspaper article also mentions John French, who would eventually play pro in the WHA, and Dennis Cain – me, mispelled, scoring for the Imperials in the squirt division.

Here’s Jack!

And here’s the lineups for the Bisons-Americans game that Ron and I were at.

Leafs Tickets

The Leafs had some fine teams once upon a time, and scoring a ticket for the normal hockey fan with no connections was tough. Almost impossible.

You’d think nowadays would be a cinch but I know it’s not. Maybe within the next few years I’ll give it a shot when the Habs play there.

A couple of replies from the Gardens back in the ’60s. And at least they replied.

Even though on the first one they spelled my name “Lane”.


From My Pile Of Old Programs

Don Cherry belonged to the Montreal Canadiens for a short time in the early 1960’s, until Sam Pollock took him aside one day and asked him to lay off the beer. Cherry said he wouldn’t and was promptly shipped to the Spokane Comets of the Western Hockey League where he played one season (68 games, 9 goals, 13 assists), before moving on to the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

This is Cherry, number 6, with the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens of the EPHL (Eastern Professional Hockey League) in an exhibition game against the Boston Bruins before the start of the 1962-63 season. Hull-Ottawa, a farm team of the Habs, supplied many, many players to the big club in those days. Don just wasn’t one of them.

Ron And Dennis’ Excellent Adventure

The other day the phone rang and it was my old friend Ron Clarke, and although he lives in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, he was in Vancouver visiting his 34 year old daughter who has terminal lung cancer.

Ron and I go back further than any other of my other friends as we were childhood buddies and schoolmates and we played road hockey and  held on to bumpers of cars and got free rides as the unsuspecting drivers made their way through snowy streets. He and I traded hockey cards, smoked our first cigarettes together, went through minor hockey, and he started hanging around with a girl in grade seven and ended up marrying her after they dated for about ten years.

Ron and I went our separate ways because he was a straight-laced guy who wanted no part of what was happening with the counter-culture in the 1960’s, and I was the opposite. But we always remained friends over the years anyway.

After talking to Ron, I remembered a time when we were 12 year old altar boys and one of the priests was not only the big shot priest, the Monsignor, but he also somehow had a connection to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It might have something to do with St. Michael’s College in Toronto but I’m not sure. 

Monsignor Lee asked Ron and I one day if we’d like to go to Peterborough for the day and visit the Leafs in training camp, and off we went. Turns out Monsignor Lee had more than just a slight connection with the Leafs. It was almost like he was part of them.

In the afternoon, we had dinner with the team, for gawd’s sakes, although the players, Keon, Horton, Mahovlich, Baun, Pulford and the rest were on the other side of the room. Ron and I sat at a table with King Clancy and Jim Gregory, and the two of them, with the Monsignor, told old stories about when they did this and when they did that, and although I don’t recall any of the conversations, I can still picture  Clancy being really funny and Jim Gregory doing most of the talking.

Later on, we had primo seats at the Peterborough arena to see the Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks play an exhibition game and we went down to the boards and got Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita’s autographs.

Then, back to Orillia we went, an hour away.

Back to the present. I spoke briefly on the phone with Ron’s daughter, Jocelyne, and I told her she was going to beat her lung cancer. She said that’s not what any of her doctor’s have told her.


Ron and I also went to Barrie at about the same age as when we went to Peterborough, and he and I helped the AHL Buffalo Bisons trainer and stood behind the bench as stick boys for an exhibition game between the Bisons and Rochester Americans. Don Cherry played for Rochester but it didn’t matter at that time, (I only know because I still have the lineup sheet), and the only players who made an impact on me where Gilles Marotte, Billy Dea, and Fred Stanfield.

I also remember Ron and I coming home from playing hockey at the arena in Orillia and noticed the Habs-Leafs on TV in someone’s living room. So we sat outside the window and watched the game without the people knowing.

The Search For Tim Daly Brings Larry Wilson

I dug this out of a box only because I was looking for something else and good old Larry Wilson jumped out instead of Tim Daly, legendary trainer of both the Toronto St. Pats and the newborn Toronto Maple Leafs. So I’ll continue my hunt for Tim Daly’s autograph which I have somewhere, but in the meantime…….

This is Larry Wilson, not exactly a household name. But he was a big hockey man, and he fathered someone you probably know of.

My friend and I took a 30 minute bus ride to Barrie from Orillia to see an exhibition game between the AHL Buffalo Bison and Rochester Americans. We got there very early and the Buffalo trainer let us move sticks around, hang out in the dressing room, and stand with him off to the side behind the bench. Number 2 on defence for the Rochester Americans was Don Cherry. Number 9 for Buffalo was Wilson. I have him penned in on my program at the bottom.

Larry Wilson, in a career that spanned the late 1940’s to 1970, was a centreman with both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks, but he spent 12 years with the Buffalo Bisons. And at some some point he fathered the present-day coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ron Wilson.

An Inside Look At A 1960s Leaf’s Training Camp Invitation

pappinJim Pappin was an important forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they were winning Cups and doing big things all those years ago. From 1963 to 1968, Pappin bounced back and forth between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Rochester Americans, won a couple of Lord Stanley’s, and eventually retired in 1977 after playing with several teams but mostly in Chicago.

A few years ago, Pappin gave a guy a nice reward for finding his 1967 Stanley Cup ring he’d lost in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida.

Anyway, this morning a fellow named Jason Collins emailed me a copy of a letter he has from Toronto coach and GM George “Punch” Imlach to Pappin 1962, inviting him to Leafs training camp. This kind of stuff always blows my mind. I love it.

I’m retyping the letter because it’s a little hard to read because I’m not savvy enough to download a certain program, so I’m showing the letter and writing what it says below it. It’s simply amazing how much Imlach expected from the rookies condition-wise.

Here’s the letter to Jim Pappin from Punch Imlach, August 2nd, 1962. Pappin was almost 23 at the time and had yet to crack the Leafs lineup.


Maple Leaf Gardens

August 2nd, 1962

Dear Jim,

We will start our training camp on Friday, September 7th at Peterborough, Ontario.

All players are to report to the Empress Hotel Friday morning the 7th. Physical examinations will start at 9.00 am. through to noon. Dinner will be at 1.00 pm. After dinner all players will report to the trainers at the arena at 2.30 pm, and draw their equipment and go for a skate.

Golf will be a must in the training camp schedule. Be sure to bring along your golfing equipment. Arrangements have been completed for the use of the Kawartha Golf Club during training camp.

In view of the fact that nearly all players have cars, I am assuming you will not need railway transportation. However, if you do wish transportation, kindly let us know as soon as possible.

We hope that you have enjoyed the summer and that will attend camp with the attitude that now we are Stanley Cup holders we will show everybody that we deserve it and intend to keep it.

I expect you to report in good condition and not more than 7 lbs. over your playing weight, with a minimum of being able to do: 20 push ups, 20 sit ups, 30 knee bends.

The competition for jobs on the club should be highly contested this year. We have a good crop of rookies and they will get every opportunity to make the club. So, let’s be ready for the competition and not sorry.

We had a few injuries last year so the better your condition, I believe, the less injuries we will receive.

See you in September and let’s make this another profitable year with a big playoff split.

Yours sincerely,

George Imlach

General Manager

Again, When You Least Expect It, More Fascinating Facts!


Fascinating Fact # 1   I owned a sports bar for awhile in Powell River, and during this time the infamous Hanson Brothers came to town for a promotional thing at the arena. Afterwards, they came into my pub and at midnight, I locked the doors and drank beer and talked hockey with them until about 5AM.

Fascinating Fact #2  A small scrap of paper signed by Bill Barilko, who scored the Cup-winning goal for Toronto against Montreal in 1951 and died later that year in a plane crash in northern Ontario, recently sold on ebay for $750.

Fascinating Fact #3   Frank Mahovlich came into my pub after an NHL Oldtimer’s game with his niece, who lives in Powell River. I had to tell customers who clamoured all over him to cool it so the guy could eat his meal.

Fascinating Fact #4   When I was 12, my pee wee baseball team played in a tournament in St. Catherines, Ontario. For one game, goalie great Gerry Cheevers was the umpire.

Facsinating Fact # 5   Years ago, when I was about 11, I asked Foster Hewitt for his autograph. He signed for me, then, because he was in a deep discussion with some other guy, he kept my pen. I was too shy to ask him for it so my older sister had to get it for me.

Fascinating Fact #6   Howie Morenz was Toe Blake’s hero when Blake was a boy. He said he even called himself Howie. Years later, in 1937, Blake played for the Habs alongside his boyhood hero Morenz. This was the same year Morenz died from complications from a broken leg.

Fascinating Fact # 7   Toe Blake used such terrible profanity, he was barred from the Forum Billiard Hall.

Facinating Fact # 8    I collect old Montreal Canadiens kid’s wool sweaters. Not like some of the old ones in the photos above as these are extremely early Habs sweaters,  but like the one in my photo at the top right, and other’s similar to that. They’re all from the 1940’s, ’50’s, and ’60’s but I’m still looking for ones from the ’30’s and ’20’s. I saw some in old Eaton’s catalogues recently, so I know they were around at that time. But are they around now?

Fascinating Fact #9  In the early ’60’s when I was about 13 or so, my buddy and I went to Barrie, Ont. for an exhibition game between the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the Rochester Americans. We were there early and somehow got talking to the Buffalo trainer, and he let us be stickboys for the game. The team gave us both sticks, although I broke mine later playing road hockey. And Don Cherry played that night for Rochester.

The final Fascinating Fact goes to Toe Blake, who said this: “Hockey has been my life. I never had the opportunity of getting one of those million dollar contracts, but hockey was worth more than a million to me in plenty of ways.”

(For more delicious and delightful facts, just click on ‘Fascinating Facts’ over in the category section and get a whole bunch of stuff.)