Nov 14-16, 2008 - Max Bentley
I've given up on finding a tie-in for the Vancouver game amongst the players sitting in the scan pile. The two best I had were Wellwood and Kurtenbach, and I've used both of them already.
So here's a name we don't hear enough of anymore - Max Bentley. Max's misfortune, I suppose, is that he missed the TV era that seems to be the start of the modern hockey consciousness. Too bad, because he was a dandy.
Max was a smallish player who could skate like the wind and handle the puck at speed (do I hint at a Grabowski comparison? Well, nobody else here ever saw Bentley play either and would be suitably outraged, so maybe I can get away with it. Meh, probably not.). He was an Art Ross winner, a Hart winner and a first-team all-star when the Leafs sent five regulars to Chicago for him in 1947. Teams only played three lines in those days, and that gave the Leafs the following three centres - Syl Apps, Ted Kennedy and Max Bentley. Any surprise they won the Cup that year?
With Max in the lineup, the Leafs would win three of the next four Cups. Age and injury began to catch up to him, and he finished up after one season in New York.
1935-36 Rosetown Red Wings SIHA
1937-38 Drumheller Miners ASHL 26 28 15 43 10 5 7 1 8 2
1938-39 Drumheller Miners ASHL 32 29 24 53 16 6 5 3 8 6
1939-40 Saskatoon Quakers SSHL 31 37 14 51 4 4 1 1 2 2
1940-41 Providence Reds AHL 9 4 2 6 0
1940-41 Kansas City Americans AHA 5 5 5 10 0
1940-41 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 36 7 10 17 6 4 1 3 4 2
1941-42 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 39 13 17 30 2 3 2 0 2 0
1942-43 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 47 26 44 70 2
1942-43 Victoria Navy NNDHL
1942-43 San Diego Skyhawks Exhib.
1943-44 Calgary Currie Army CNDHL 15 18 13 31 26 2 3 4 7 0
1944-45 Calgary Currie Army CNDHL 12 14 14 28 24 3 3 2 5 0
1945-46 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 47 31 30 61 6 4 1 0 1 4
1946-47 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 60 29 43 72 12
1947-48 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 6 3 3 6 4
1947-48 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 53 23 25 48 10 9 4 7 11 0
1948-49 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 60 19 22 41 18 9 4 3 7 2
1949-50 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 69 23 18 41 14 7 3 3 6 0
1950-51 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 67 21 41 62 34 11 2 11 13 4
1951-52 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 69 24 17 41 40 4 1 0 1 2
1952-53 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 36 12 11 23 16
1953-54 New York Rangers NHL 57 14 18 32 15
1954-55 Saskatoon Quakers WHL 40 24 17 41 23
1955-56 Saskatoon Quakers WHL 10 2 2 4 20
1956-57 Saskatoon Quakers SJHL
1957-58 Saskatoon Quakers SJHL
1958-59 Saskatoon Quakers WHL 26 6 12 18 2
Leaf Totals 354 122 134 256 132 40 14 24 38 8
NHL Totals 646 245 299 544 179 51 18 27 45 14
Art Ross Trophy (1946, 1947)
First All-Star Team Centre (1946)
Hart Memorial Trophy (1946)
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (1943)Second All-Star Team Centre (1947)
Stanley Cup (1948,1949,1951)
- Traded to Toronto by Chicago with Cy Thomas for Gus Bodnar, Bud Poile, Gaye Stewart, Ernie Dickens and Bob Goldham, November 2, 1947.
- Traded to NY Rangers by Toronto for cash, August 11, 1953.
- Officially announced retirement from NHL, November 16, 1955.
the HHOF take on Max:
Known as the "Dipsy-Doodle Dandy from Delisle" because of his fancy skating and superb stickhandling, Max was the youngest of the three NHL Bentleys (the other two were Doug and Reggie). Max grew up on a farm, one of 13 children, six of whom were boys. All of the kids played sports, and at one time five of the boys played on the same hockey team, the Drumheller Miners.
Max originally had a tryout with Boston as a 16-year-old, but he looked so small the Bruins sent him packing. On his way home, he stopped off in Montreal to try out with the Habs, and there the Canadiens' manager said Max looked so sick he should see a doctor. Incredibly, the doctor told Max he had a heart condition. If he didn't go home and forget about hockey, the doctor said, Max wouldn't live a year.
Max always looked gaunt and pale, and throughout his career he was plagued by minor injuries, pains, aches, dry throat, burning eyes, upset stomach, ulcers, diabetes and kidney trouble. He was often called "a walking drug store" because of his pharmacological tendencies, and for 155 pounds he was also quite resilient.
Although the Hawks liked Max, they wanted him to develop in Kansas City, the team's farm club. At first Max balked at reporting and decided to retire at 18 years of age. But Johnny Gottselig, a former great Max admired who was the current coach in K.C., promised to look after him and make sure he got to the NHL. Max reported the next day. Just a week later, injuries forced Chicago to call a forward up from the farm and Gottselig pointed to Max. He never saw the minors again.
In his first year Max played on a line with brother Doug and Mush March, but the following season the coach put Bill Thoms on the line as a policeman for the two high scorers. That was the turning point of the season, as Max finished third in the NHL's scoring race--Doug was first--and won the Lady Byng Trophy.
Max became famous for his drive to the net, his aggressive play to score and the fact that he was constantly in motion. He never stopped skating and had as many moves in his day, contemporaries would later say, as Wayne Gretzky did during his era.
Max won the 1946-47 scoring championship on the last day of the season--his second consecutive scoring title. Going into the game against New York, he was one point ahead of Rocket Richard, whose Canadiens were playing Boston. The game itself didn't matter for the Hawks, who were so far down in last place they couldn't see up at all. Max was getting reports about the Montreal game, and in the first two periods Richard had two points, and moved ahead. But in the third period, Max had an early assist to tie Richard. Then, midway through the period, he took a Mosienko pass at center and returned the favor at the blue line and cut to the net. Mosienko fed a perfect pass to the slot and Max's quick shot to the corner slid past the sprawling glove hand of Charlie Rayner. The Rocket was held off the score sheet and Max won the scoring title by one point.
While his years with his brother in Chicago were rewarding, the turning point of his career came on November 2, 1947, when he and Cy Thomas were traded to Toronto for an unprecedented five players--Bud Poile, Bob Goldham, Gaye Stewart, Gus Bodnar and Ernie Dickens. While many thought Conn Smythe was crazy to make the trade, the Leafs won the Stanley Cup three times in the next four years with Max. He assisted on the game-tying goal in game five of the 1951 finals that saw Bill Barilko score the Cup winner in overtime.
Bentley himself was at first saddened by the trade and the loss of playing with his brother. But he immediately became a star on a star team and helped the Leafs to victory, and his popularity in Chicago was never as great as it was almost instantly in Toronto. One night at the Gardens, the Leafs needed a goal. Charlie Hempstead, a racehorse owner and season ticket subscriber who sat right by the Leafs bench, petitioned Max. "Score a goal and I'll give you a horse," he proposed. Max did and Charlie obliged.
During the 1952-53 season, Max was hampered by a genuine back injury and played only 36 games before retiring. The Leafs sold his rights to the Rangers, and he was reunited briefly with brother Doug for part of the 1953-54 season in New York. When he retired, he had scored 245 goals and was second among active players only to Maurice Richard.