Thursday, January 21, 2016

Unidentified Players in Leafs '65 Book

I finally got a copy of the fantastic book pictured above. It's filled with never-before seen photos of life in Maple Leafs training camp which took place in Peterborough, Ontario in September of 1965. Stephen Brunt adds a great essay to introduce the book with the stories and details of the era. As a lover of all things Maple Leaf history, this book was nearly perfect. The only minor problem is the fact that there are two players pictured at Leafs camp who are unidentified by Brunt and the fine hockey historian, Paul Patskou who aided in the book.
The first one is shown below and referred to merely as "unidentified Leaf prospect".
To the Society for International Hockey Research photo database I went. Toronto's farm system in 1965/66 included Rochester Americans of the AHL, Victoria Maple Leafs of the WHL and Tulsa Oilers of the CHL. It didn't take long to find a reasonable match for this un-named prospect. I am fairly certain it is Marty Desmarais who was a 20 year-old fresh out of junior with the Calgary Buffaloes in September 1965. I shared via email with hockey historian Paul Patskou and he said, "Not any of the players I showed the pictures to knew who those 2 players were.  I don’t know anything about Marty Desmarais but it certainly makes sense."
Marty Desmarais with Long Island Ducks
Desmarais would play five games with Victoria of the Western League that year and the rest of the season with his hometown Calgary Spurs of the Western Canada Senior League. He played his entire career in the Eastern and International leagues, before playing one last year of Senior level in 1976/77.
The second player that Patskou was referring to was the guy below who is known in the book as "Unidentified Rochester player". This one was a bit more difficult to figure out who it is. As Patskou said, he showed these photos to many of the Maple Leafs old-timers while researching the book and nobody knew who this was.
Again, using the SIHR photo database, the best guess I have is that it may be Tom Polanic pictured below with the Minnesota North Stars in the early 1970's. As Paul Patskou pointed out though, "One of the interviews I did was with Tom Polanic but I don’t think I showed him the photos.  But it sure looks like Tom. The only thing is the player in the photo looks much older than Tom would have looked.  He was at the training camp and told some great stories.  It sure gives me something to go on." Indeed, Polanic would have been only 22 in September 1965, but in the photos below he was only 26 or 27. Perhaps he simply looked older than his age.
Tom Polanic
One other possibility, a guy who's age looks more in line with the un-named player is Fred Hucul. He would have been 33 at the time of the photo but only slightly resembles guy in the photo. Below is Hucul in 67/68 with the St.Louis Blues. I wish I could find a photo of the back of his head to see if the bald-spot matches. 
Fred Hucul

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