Leaf of the Day - Nov 14-16, 2008 - Max Bentley

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. is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of

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