One of the very significant news items stemming from the National Hockey League’s summer meetings was the announcement by the Hockey Hall of Fame of the names of four very distinguished gentlemen who have gained entrance to the hallowed hall: Turk Broda, Neil Colville, Harry Oliver and Red Storey. All four are most deserving of this honour.
Walter (Turk) Broda is regarded as one of the greatest playoff goalkeepers in NHL history. He has played more playoff games than any other NHL netminder, and was at his best when the chips were down. Former Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe perhaps best summed up Broda’s career when he proposed the rotund goalkeeper for the HHOF in a letter to Frank Selke:
“When one looks at the records one wonders what you have to do to become a member of the Hall of Fame.
“On top of having the most shutouts in the playoffs and having played in the most playoff games he also shut out Detroit in four games in the 1950 playoffs and lost the round.”
Smythe also reminded Selke and the rest of the committee of the 1951 playoffs in which all five games went into overtime. Leafs won that series 4-1.
Smythe closed his letter by saying “I feel I have been rather remiss in letting a player like this go so long without recognition and would think that familiarity breeds contempt. I am sure that nobody had the flair that Turk had to come back after a bad game and play superlatively.”
Neil Colville was a 13-year member of the New York Rangers, spending six of those seasons as the team’s captain. His career was interrupted between 1942-45 by service in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II. During that time he captained the Army’s senior hockey team, which won the Allan Cup in 1943. Upon his return from the war, he moved back to defense after playing forward his entire career.
Colville was a member of the Rangers’ famed Bread Line with his brother Mac and Alex Shibicky. In his NHL career, which spanned 464 games, he scored 99 goals and added 166 assists. He was a two-time Second Team NHL All-star.
Colville took up coaching in 1948 with the New Haven Ramblers of the American Hockey League. He was named head coach of the Rangers for the 1950 season and held that post until he resigned in December of 1952 for health reasons.
Slightly built Harry Oliver was one of the smallest players of any era. Before moving to the NHL, he was a star in the Western Canada Hockey League with the Calgary Tigers, leading the league in scoring in 1924-25.
Oliver had a successful eight-year career with the Boston Bruins between 1926 – 1934, winning two Stanley Cups. The Bruins also finished first five times during that period. He ended his playing career playing three seasons with the New York Americans. In 463 NHL games, he scored 127 goals, 85 assists for 212 points.
Red Storey was perhaps the most flamboyant and colourful official in National Hockey League history. He was a long-time minor league official before entering the NHL in 1950-51. His firm but fair, often confrontational style landed him in hot water on several occasions, but he always stuck by his guns, never backing down from his position. This caused him to resign during the 1959 playoffs when NHL president Clarence Campbell described his performance in a game between Chicago and Montreal as having “choked.”
Storey was a great athlete, proficient in other sports such as football and hockey. He became a professional football player with the Toronto Argonauts at age 18, winning Grey Cups in 1937 and 1938. His football career was cut short by a serious knee injury, but he did continue his athletic career, and played professional baseball for the Montreal Royals in 1943.