Milt Schmidt scored 229 goals and 575 points in 776 NHL games despite missing three seasons during World War Two. (THN Archives)
Remembrance Day is a special day. We remember those who gave their lives for others in far-away places.
Today’s heroes fight in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. We are reminded of their sacrifices almost daily and we remember them specifically on Nov. 11, but we also remember past heroes who fought in places such as Vietnam and Korea and in the two Great Wars.
In honor of men and women, past and present, who have given or are risking their lives for the rest of us, this week we’re taking a look at 10 of the best players who took a leave of absence for military service.
Any names not on the list are, of course, not forgotten and their accomplishments are still noteworthy, but when you see the names below, you’ll see why some great players simply couldn’t be included.
10. Woody Dumart
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992, Dumart was a member of the famed ‘Kraut Line’ in Boston, all three of whom enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces during the prime of their careers and didn’t return to the NHL for three-and-a-half years. Dumart was a three-time all-star whose NHL career spanned 18 years.
9. Gord Drillon
He played just seven NHL seasons before joining the Canadian military for three years in 1943, but Drillon was one of the most electrifying players of his era. The three-time all-star won the Art Ross and Lady Byng Trophies in 1938 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.
8. Ken Reardon
Inducted to the Hall in 1966, Reardon was one of the most fearsome and intimidating defensemen of his era. He enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces after the 1941-42 season and didn’t return to the NHL until 1945-46. For his dedication overseas, he was awarded Field Marshall Montgomery’s Certificate of Merit for acts of bravery during battle. Reardon was a five-time all-star in just seven NHL seasons.
7. Sid Abel
The center on Detroit’s famed ‘Production Line’ with Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, Abel was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1969. He played parts of 14 NHL seasons, missing two during World War II while with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was a four-time all-star and won the Hart Trophy in 1949.
6. Turk Broda
Broda was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967 after 302 NHL victories with Toronto and two years with the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War. He was a three-time all-star and a two-time Vezina Trophy winner.
5. Hobey Baker
The United States’ first hockey superstar, Baker played in the old seven-man system as a rover. He was one of the most skilled players of his time and ran roughshod over the collegiate ranks. After starring for Princeton University, Baker played amateur hockey before joining the U.S. Air Force in the First World War and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his abilities. Baker was killed in a post-war flying accident. The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is given each year to the NCAA’s top player.
4. Max Bentley
Bentley was one of three NHL Bentley brothers. He was also one of the best players of his day. He spent two of his prime playing years in the Canadian military during WWII, but still managed to be named an all-star twice, win two scoring titles, a Hart Trophy and a Lady Byng Trophy. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.
3. Frank Brimsek
‘Mr. Zero’ spent 10 seasons in the NHL, nine tending goal for Boston and one with Chicago. Eight of those seasons he was named either a first- or second-team all-star; he also won the Calder Trophy and twice won the Vezina Trophy. He won 252 games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966. During the Second World War, Brimsek served two years with the U.S. Coast Guard in the South Pacific.
2. Syl Apps
A five-time all-star, Apps won the Calder Trophy and the Lady Byng Trophy during his career, averaging better than a point per game at a time when few managed the feat. The center spent his entire NHL career with Toronto, interrupted by two years in the Canadian Armed Forces during WWII.
1. Milt Schmidt
The most famous NHL war veteran, Schmidt enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942. He lost three-and-a-half years in the prime of his career, was a four-time all-star, and won the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Trophy an amazing 11 seasons apart. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1961.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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