Bud Poile - My Grandfather's Leafs

If you sent in to Quaker Oats in the mid-40s, you could get an eight-by-ten of players like Bud Poile of the Leafs

I actually did my homework.  I just never turned it in.

Back when Mt. Puckmore was all the rage, mf37 had the interesting suggestion that we approach our elders and find out who was on their Mt. Puckmore - the thought being that our choices and weightings might be a generational thing.

I first asked my mother who would be on her list.  I got one surprise in that I had anticipated her to question our exclusion of Dave Keon.  I was wrong.  It was the exclusion of Johnny Bower that had her shocked.  For the record, her list was Bower, Keon, Mahovlich, McDonald.

We then moved on to my grandparents' generation.  For my paternal grandmother, we felt that her list would have had only one name on it - whether the mountain would need four separate images of Turk Broda or just one really big one would be up to the artist.  Grandma never even really followed who the later Leaf goalies even were.  If they weren't Broda, it wasn't really relevant.

My maternal grandfather was trickier.  A rabid Leaf fan more or less forever, he could spin yarns about pretty much anyone.  We tried to derive a top four.  We got through Horton, Meeker and Kennedy and then kind of hit a wall.  My mother then suggested that the correct answer was really anyone who could score against Montreal.  "He absolutely hated Montreal."  Fair enough.

My grandfather's era of Leaf fandom spanned Conacher, Primeau and Jackson through Gilmour, Andreychuk and Clark.  He followed the triumphs and failures of the Gashouse Gang, the powerhouse teams of the forties, the decade-long rebuild of the fifties, four more champions in the sixties and then the entire Ballard era.  You name it, he saw it.  (Now, prior to about 1933, given his age and place of birth, he was probably - gasp - an original Senators fan.  He got over it, though.  This was never spoken of publicly.)

There has always been a hole in the Leaf of the Day coverage - if a player didn't have a card produced (and I didn't happen to have it), he couldn't be Leaf of the Day.  One problem with this is that there were many years, sometimes entire decades, where no cards were produced - the entire 1940s is most obvious of these.  The players from those teams disappear into the LotD ether.

It's not that kids had nothing to collect in those years, though.  Kids of that era would send in various proofs of purchase to the Bee Hive Corn Syrup Company, Crown Brand, Quaker Oats or whoever and would get glossy black and white stills back.  This is what they collected, traded and laid out on the floor while listening to the games on the radio.

For this year's tribute team, I want to look primarily at these players from the time when Bee Hive reigned supreme.  I will refer to these as My Grandfather's Leafs.

For anyone who ever played cards with me, I never like leading trump on an opening hand.  So for today, I have a hall of famer, but a guy whose in the hall as a builder rather than a player.

Father of longtime NHL GM David Poile, Bud Poile broke into the NHL as an 18-year old with the Leafs of 1942-43.  To me, he was most famous for being part of the sort of trade we always mock when proposed - the "let's send five guys to team X for their two-time defending Art Ross winner."  The difference is that this trade actually happened.  As always, I learned a fair bit in prepping for this.  The first thing is that Bud Poile was actually a lot better than I would have thought.

Bud Poile was a right winger with pretty decent size, playing at six feet and about 190 pounds.  He was the youngest regular on the '42-43 Leafs and managed 16 goals and 35 points as an 18-year-old.  When the playoffs came, he led the team in scoring with six points in as many games.

At 19, though, Bud left the Leafs for the army.  He'd miss most of 1943-44, all of 1944-45 and most of 1945-46 in the service.  The team he came back to was very different from the one he left.  A lot of the old guard had moved on and the core of the team that would win four championships in five years was coming into place.  At 22, he played his first full season since he was 18 and won his first Stanley Cup.

Just out of the gate in 1947-48, though, the Leafs shocked everyone by sending five players to Chicago for Max Bentley, giving the Leafs arguably the best collection of centres ever assembled.  Bud Poile was among those sent to Chicago.  The Leafs actually traded his entire line (Bodnar and Stewart were the others on it) plus a pair of defensemen in Goldham and Dickens.

It didn't look that bad for Bud.  Chicago wasn't anywhere near the team the Leafs were.  The Leafs finished first, the Hawks last.  For Bud, though, he got to play a lot and he put up solid numbers.  He scored 25 goals and 52 points, and this was good enough to have him named to the second All-Star team at season's end.

The time in Chicago was short.  They were rebuilding and sent Poile and a number of other players to Detroit.  As a Wing, Bud put up another 20 goal season, but with a young Gordie Howe in ascendancy, they didn't need him at right wing.  He was sold to the Rangers in the off-season (Bud said they used the money to build a new press box), who then moved him to Boston.

At 25, Bud Poile had played for five of the six NHL teams and despite another solid scoring season, he decided to make the jump to coaching.  He became the player coach of the Tulsa Oilers and later the Edmonton Flyers.  He'd never play another NHL game.

As a coach, he won a number of minor-league titles and eventually found himself as the GM of the expansion Philadelphia Flyers.  His most noteworthy move was likely the chance he took in drafting a young diabetic named Bobby Clarke out of Flin Flon.  He also GMed the Canucks in their first seasons before settling in as the long-time president of the IHL.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990.

So there you have it.  Bud Poile had no Leaf cards, but if you sent in to Quaker Oats in the 1940s you could get a picture like the one above.  Not a bad career for a player most won't know.

Visit the Bud Poile Gallery at the HHOF.

Bud's stats:

 1940-41  Fort William Rangers  TBJHL  17   25   10   35   14   2   3   2   5   4 
 1941-42  Fort William Rangers  TBJHL  18   36   29   65   55   3   5   7   12   11 
 1941-42  Fort William Forts  TBSHL  1   0   2   2   0 
 1941-42  Port Arthur Bearcats  M-Cup  6   1   2   3   2 
 1942-43  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  48   16   19   35   24   6   2   4   6   4 
 1943-44  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  11   6   8   14   9 
 1943-44  Toronto RCAF  OHA-Sr.  8   5   9   14   8 
 1943-44  Toronto Bowsers  TMHL  3   5   2   7   0   4   16   5   21   2 
 1945-46  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  9   1   8   9   0 
 1946-47  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  59   19   17   36   19   7   2   0   2   2 
 1947-48  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  4   2   0   2   0 
 1947-48  Chicago Black Hawks  NHL  54   23   29   52   17 
 1948-49  Chicago Black Hawks  NHL  4   0   0   0   2 
 1948-49  Detroit Red Wings  NHL  56   21   21   42   6   10   0   1   1   2 
 1949-50  New York Rangers  NHL  27   3   6   9   8 
 1949-50  Boston Bruins  NHL  39   16   14   30   6 
 1950-51  Tulsa Oilers  USHL  60   15   38   53   48   9   5   6   11   4 
 1951-52  Glace Bay Miners  MMHL  84   33   60   93   69   2   0   0   0   0 
 1952-53  Edmonton Flyers  WHL  70   20   29   49   62   15   0   7   7   12 
 1953-54  Edmonton Flyers  WHL  49   12   39   51   34   13   3   9   12   0 
 1954-55  Edmonton Flyers  WHL  3   1   2   3   0 
 1954-55  Edmonton Flyers  Ed-Cup  1   0   0   0   0 
 1955-56  Edmonton Flyers  WHL
 Leaf Totals  131   44   52   96   52   13   4   4   8   6 
 NHL Totals  311   107   122   229   91   23   4   5   9   8 

- Traded to Chicago by Toronto with Gus Bodnar, Gaye Stewart, Ernie Dickens and Bob Goldham for Max Bentley and Cy Thomas, November 2, 1947.
- Traded to Detroit by Chicago with George Gee for Jim Conacher, Bep Guidolin and Doug McCaig, October 25, 1948.
- Traded to NY Rangers by Detroit for cash, August 16, 1949.
- Traded to Boston by NY Rangers for cash, December 22, 1949.
- Signed by Tulsa (USHL) as playing-coach, October 3, 1950.

What the HHOF has to say about Bud:

Norman R. "Bud" Poile was a fine player and a superlative hockey executive. Success was a recurring theme in his career both on and off the ice. Poile's determination and positive outlook won him a legion of followers and admirers during his exemplary career.

Born in Fort William, Ontario, Poile was a local hero with a fine scoring touch and a deadly accurate shot. He was leading the Thunder Bay League in scoring when the Toronto Maple Leafs signed him to a professional contract in November 1942. He led Toronto in playoff scoring in 1943 and formed the effective "Flying Forts" line with fellow Fort William natives Gus Bodnar and Gaye Stewart.

After serving in World War II, he returned to Toronto and won a Stanley Cup in 1947. Poile seemed set in Toronto but was stunned when he was one of the "five ordinary players" sent to Chicago for superstar centre Max Bentley. Poile went on to play for five of the Original Six teams, the lone exception being Montreal.

In 1950, Poile began the second stage of his pro career as coach of the Tulsa Oilers of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He then moved into the Detroit organization and ran their Glace Bay team in the Maritime Senior League. The next year Poile began a nine-year run coaching the Edmonton Flyers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) where he won three league titles and was named executive-of-the-year by The Hockey News in 1953. During this time he developed a close relationship with Jack Adams who was grooming Poile as his successor in Detroit.

When Adams stepped down, the Red Wings opted for former star Sid Abel instead. Poile continued his run of success in the WHL with the San Francisco Seals, winning the league championship and attracting crowds of 10,000 to the Cow Palace.

When the NHL expanded in 1967, Poile was finally granted his big league opportunity as general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. He played a major role in forming the nucleus of the future Stanley Cup champions by drafting or trading for players like Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent.

He took over the GM position for the expansion Vancouver Canucks in 1970 and guided the team until 1973 when he moved to the World Hockey Association as executive vice-president. In 1976 he returned to the minors to begin an eight-year term as the Commissioner of the Central Hockey League (CHL). During the 1983-84 season, then International Hockey League (IHL) head Jack Riley resigned and Poile took over giving himself two leagues to run in the short term. Later that year Poile was forced to suspend the operations of the CHL but ran the IHL until he retired in 1989. That same year he was presented the Lester patrick trophy in recognition of the model work he had done in establishing the IHL as a solid breeding ground for NHL talent. When he left the "I", seven of the ten teams were the top affiliates of an NHL club.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.

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