Charlie Conacher

Many of us haven’t grown up in the wealthiest of families. Charlie Conacher was no different. Born in 1909 in Toronto, Conacher wasn’t blessed with wealth, but was blessed with size. At 6’1″, 195 lbs, he was notably larger than most other NHL players at the time and used it to his advantage on the renowned “Kid Line” of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After some strong seasons with the Toronto Marlboros of the OHA in his teen years, Conacher joined the Maple Leafs in 1929 as a 20-year-old.

Conacher was the primary goal scoring threat on the Kid Line, a beneficiary of the passing of Joe Primeau. He and Busher Jackson dominated the league for several years during Toronto’s reign of terror in the early 30s. While Conacher’s rookie season was solid, it was the subsequent year that the Kid Line really broke out and in that season, finished third in points, but established his pedigree as a goal scorer by finishing first with 31 goals in 37 games, ahead of the great Bill Cook‘s 30 goals, but in six less games.

The following season, 1931-32, Conacher would lead the league in scoring for a second consecutive year, this time tying Cook with 34 goals, though doing it in 44 games to Cook’s 48 games. Conacher was known for using his size to barrel into the offensive zone, sometimes barreling through players to score. Conacher’s goal scoring helped the Leafs to win their third Stanley Cup, scoring 6 goals in 7 playoffs games during the run. At the end of the season, Conacher was voted onto the Second All-Star team.

While Conacher’s linemate Jackson had a strong season in 1932-33, Conacher seemed to have a pretty down year with just 14 goals and 33 points in 40 games. Conacher returned to form in full force for the 1933-34 season, scoring 32 goals and adding 20 assists for a league leading 52 points, along with his lead in goals. Conacher was voted onto the First All-Star team, finally beating out Cook for the spot, who had beaten him the two seasons prior. The following season, Conacher would play 47 games, missing only one game. Conacher never played a season without missing at least one game in his career. In his 47 games of the 1934-35 season, he set career highs in goals, assists, and therefore points, with 36 goals, 21 assists, and 57 points. Both the goal and point totals were the highest any player achieved in the 30s. Conacher was not only voted to the First All-Star team, but also finished 2nd in Hart voting.

Despite players scoring a lot less in the 1935-36 season, Conacher still led the league in goals with 23 goals and for the third time, was voted to the First All-Star team. He also finished 4th in Hart trophy voting. Conacher’s reckless style of hockey caught up to him in his late 20s and his minor injury problems began major ones. Over the next two seasons combined, Conacher would play in only 34 games, managing 24 points over those two seasons. In 1938, the now 29-year-old was sold to the Detroit Red Wings, where he finally played another somewhat complete season in 1938-39, playing in 40 of the 48 games. His offense, however, was lacking and Conacher would move on to the New York Americans, where he would finish off his career with two more respectable, not not overly astounding seasons.

Conacher was just 31 years old when he retired and he took up a role as a coach, being quite successful in two seasons with the OHA’s Oshawa Generals, but not as successful with the floundering Chicago Black Hawks in the late 40s. Conacher’s 200 goals as a Leaf would stand as the all-time record for 6 years after he retired, when Syl Apps beat his mark by just one goal at the end of the season. Conacher was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. His No.9 was honoured by the Leafs in 1998 and is now retired for both him and Ted Kennedy.

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