Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Vintage Photo of NHL Oldtimers Game in Vancouver


It appears I may have found myself a good old-fashioned mystery at the Vancouver Flea Market last week when I picked up this old photo of two obviously old-timer hockey squads. It's probably a reproduction of an old photo (I paid a buck, so that doesn't matter) printed on thicker stock paper measuring 10" x 13". The image itself is the prize, I've never seen this online anywhere. The print definitely has some wear to it, but I'm not sure how old it is. There is no date or names on it at all, but there is however one face that is easily identifiable. The dour looking gent in the black overcoat in the second row, right of centre beside the old fellow in glasses is Hall of Famer Fred "Cyclone" Taylor. Now,  I am aware that Cyclone Taylor organized NHL old-timer games in Vancouver as fundraisers starting around 1948. Taylor lived and worked post-career in Vancouver right up until his death in 1979.
The arena in which the photo is taken certainly looks like the Vancouver Forum, built in 1931 and longtime home of the Western Hockey League's Canucks. There are also a few more players that I'm fairly certain of at first glance. The bespectacled player in back row, far right, behind the ref is most likely Hal Laycoe. Laycoe played in the NHL from 1945 to 1956 after which he would coach the Western League New Westminster Royals and Portland Buckaroos  from 1956 to 1969. In the back-row again, number 15 in white is almost certainly Father David Bauer of Canadian National team coaching fame. He played junior at St. Mike's College before being ordained as a minister in 1953. He coached St. Mike's to a Memorial Cup win in 1961, then moved out west to coach at UBC before starting the National team program. The guy directly behind Cyclone Taylor sure does look like Walter "Babe" Pratt who won the 1944 Hart Trophy, then played and coached in New Westminster in the early 50s. Bauer, Laycoe and Pratt are pictured below.

So, this mystery photo is obviously from one of these Cyclone Taylor organized old-timer games, the question is what year? Even though, I believe the first one of these was played in 1948, the first mention of an old-timers game in Vancouver I can find in google news archives is from 1953. Low and behold, look at the uniforms being worn in the photo below. 
March 3, 1953
Well, the uniforms sure do match. Problem is, not one of the players pictured and mentioned in the newspaper pic appear to be in my mystery flea market photo. Most definitively, number 10 in dark jersey Bill Hutton, does not match the number 10 dark in my photo. Perhaps I can cross-reference some names in the boxscore from this game to see if any of these guys can be seen in the photo that is likely from a slightly later date. Since Laycoe was an active NHLer until '56 and its unlikely he would have played in an oldtimers game before then, the photo must be from after this time. The mystery continues.





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