Thursday, July 31, 2014

Maple Leaf Cup of Coffee; Jack Forsey

Jack Forsey had a terrific rookie season for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942/43. He played in 19 of the team's 50 games and notched 16 points. This 0.84 points per game in his first season are equaled or bettered by only 116 other men in National Hockey League history. Of these 116 players, an amazing 40 are or will be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Among these players, Jack Forsey is the only one to never play another game in the NHL after his fine rookie campaign. What happened to Jack Forsey?

Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Forsey starred for the the junior Calgary Jimmies before joining the senior Kimberly Dynamiters. At age 23, he went to England to play professionally for the Earls Court Rangers. It was after his first season here that he represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships in spring of 1937. His 8 goals in 7 games helped Canada secure the Gold medal. Forsey returned to Canada in 1939 and excelled for the Sherbrooke Red Raiders of the Quebec Professional League finishing second in points with 83 in 41 games.

It was this off-season in the summer of 1940 that Forsey signed with Baltimore of the EUSHL but before he played a game with them he reneged and signed with Cornwall of the Quebec Senior League. This prompted a ruling on Forsey's case by the CAHA at their annual convention to prevent players from signing with multiple teams. He was ordered to pay $25 to cover the Baltimore scout's travel expenses in signing him or else be suspended. After a solid year with Cornwall, he finally made the jump to the AHL as a 28 year old with the Providence Reds for the 1941/42 campaign.

Following a fine season in the AHL  (46 points in 52 games), Forsey finally garnered interest from an NHL squad. He spent the 1942/43 season bouncing between Toronto and Providence, producing well at each level. While with the Leafs he was usually lined up alongside the likes of team leading scorer Lorne Carr and Mel Hill, which helped in his production. 

Perhaps the main reason for Forsey's short NHL career was World War II. Prior to the next season, he enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force, but upon being rejected due to a broken nose he was sent to Red Deer for basic training. He spent that year with Red Deer Army Wheelers in the Alberta National Defense League playing with and against such established stars as Dave Schriner, Alex Kaleta, Mac Coville and Max and Reg Bentley. He did not play at all in 1944/45 due to military service and by the time the 1945/46 season rolled around Forsey was 32 years old. This brings us to the other main reason that Jack Forsey played only one year in the NHL, his age. 

Among the 117 players who counted at least 0.84 points per game in their first season only Bill Cook, Didier Pitre and Sergei Makarov were older; the first two are in the Hall while the third one probably should be. As it was, Forsey remained out west after the war playing senior hockey everywhere from Red Deer and Kimberley to Regina and Saskatoon before ending his career with the Kamloops Elks of the Okanagan Senior League. At age 36 he scored 20 goals for the Elks and helped them advance to the 1950 Allan Cup.

Jack Forsey was 84 years old when he passed away in Salmon Arm, B.C. in 1998 and is buried in Calgary.

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