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Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Floyd "Busher" Curry, Chapleau born, considered best hockey player in world by Queen Elizabeth II after notching 'Royal' hat trick for Montreal Canadiens in 1951
Michael Farber, who writes for Sports Illustrated, noted in a column that the personal connection he had to the Montreal Canadiens and to hockey in general, led him to his one contribution to the sociology of hockey: the Canadian one-degree-of-separation rule.
"Through anecdotal evidence gathered in the almost 30 years since I moved from New Jersey to Montreal, it has occurred to me that pretty much everybody in Canada is only one person away from someone who has ties to hockey, specifically the NHL," Farber wrote in a 2009 column.
Farber mentions many examples of the one-degree-of-separation rule around the street where he lived and the Montreal Canadiens, including Former coach Jacques Demers' father who was the superintendent of an apartment building, where as a boy Jacques used to shovel coal for Canadiens player Floyd "Busher" Curry.
I had been researching a column on Floyd Curry who was born in Chapleau on August 11, 1925 and discovered Farber's column. I thought I would apply his observation that Canadians are only one person away from someone who has ties to the NHL to Floyd Curry and Chapleau. I never knew Curry but some of his relatives lived on Aberdeen Street beside the Goldstein family just down the back lane from my house.
I do not recall anyone ever mentioning that he played hockey in Chapleau, but if he did I hope someone will let me know. He was playing Junior hcokey in Kirkland Lake when he was 15 which first brought him to the attention of the Montreal Canadiens.
Read more of Farber's column at: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/michael_farber/01/22/montreal.welcome/#ixzz10BMtrxlE
Knowing that Alison (McMIllan) McMullen was a great fan of the Montreal Canadiens, I contacted her to see if she had any memories of him. Within an hour or so, her brother David was in touch with the following: "I had several pieces of memorabilia including newspaper write-ups of Floyd Curry Night at the Forum which I and several other Chapleauites attended. I can remember Mike Mione being down at ice level taking photos although I have no idea what accreditation he had or how/
where he'd attained it. Alcide Brunette and Donald "Flappy" Jardine ( both now gone ) were also in attendance."
In 2002 when as Queen Elizabeth II made history as the first monarch to drop the ceremonial opening faceoff puck at an NHL game in Vancouver, CTV News reported that the last time Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were known to have attended a hockey game was in 1951 at the Montreal Forum, during their first visit to Canada. She was only 25 and still a princess when she watched the Canadiens crush the New York Rangers 6-1 and Floyd Curry was credited with the "Royal" hat trick. It turned out to be his only NHL hat trick.
Writing on his blog Greatest Hockey Legends, Joe Pelletier noted that for most of his hockey life Curry was a modest player happy to stay in the shadows of hockey's spotlight. Most nights, except one.
"On Oct 29, 1951 -- with then Princesss Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Ediburgh in attendance, " Pelletier wrote, "Curry scored three goals ina 6-1 victory over the New York Rangers. The Princess (who became Queen in 1952) was in the midst of her first royal tour left The Forum under the impression Busher Curry was the best hockey player in the world."
"It was Curry's greatest moment," Pelletier added.
Apparently the Queen recalled Curry many years later on another visit to Canada.
Read more by Joe Pelletier at http://habslegends.blogspot.com/2008/07/floyd-busher-curry.html
After six years with the Oshawa Generals and Memorial Cup win the Montreal Canadiens realized his potential and signed him. he had also become a member of the Canadian armed forces near the end pf World War II. He played for the Montreal Royals before being brought up to the Canadiens. Playing his his entire NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens it started in 1947 and ended in 1958. During his time with Montreal, Floyd won four Stanley Cups 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958. In his NHL career he played in 601 games, scored 105 goals and earned 99 assists for 204 points.
After retiring as a player, he coached the Montreal Royals, then went on to work for the Canadiens front office for over 40 years as director of sales and travel secretary. In summer of 1968 he was promoted to Assistant General manager. He remained in that position until 1978. During his time in Montreal the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup 6 more times. Curry's name was added to the cup in 1977, 1978.
Additional information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floyd_Curry
Floyd Curry even got a mention in "Barney's Version" by the distinguished Canadian author, Mordecai Richler. "Ah, 1950. That was the last year Bill Durnan, five times winner of the Vezina trophy, best goalie in the National Hockey League, would mind the nets for my beloved Montreal Canadiens. In 1950, nos glorieux could already deploy a formidable defense corps, its mainstay young Doug Harvey. The Punch Line was then only two thirds intact: in the absence of Hector "Toe" Blake, who retired in 1948, Maurice "The Rocket" Richard and Elmer Lach were skating on a line with Floyd "Busher" Curry. They finished second to bloody Detroit in the regular season and, to their everlasting shame, went down four games to one to the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup semifinals. At least The Rocket enjoyed a decent year, finishing the regular season second in the individual scoring race with forty-three goals and twenty-two assists."
He died on September 16, 2006 at age 81.
As hockey season gets underway Canadians everywhere are applying Michael Farber's one-degree-of-separation rule again. If you have any information you can add to Floyd Curry's Chapleau connection, please let me know. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org