Elmer Lach: As tough as they come

Born in Nokomis, Saskatchewan on January 22, 1918 Elmer Lach Played 14 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens.

After signing as a free agent in 1940 his NHL career started in the 1940-41 season with 21 points in 43 games. Montreal fans loved his fearless style of play, but it also contributed to injuries he suffered all the way through his playing career.

In one game in February 1947, a Toronto Maple Leafs player hit Lach. He fell on the ice head first and had a skull fracture. With fans thinking it was the end of Lach’s career, he proved them wrong by having an incredible 1947-48 season.

In the last game of the 1948-49 season against Detroit, Lach broke his jaw when he got hit by a Detroit player. At first he downplayed the injury since he wanted to play in the semifinals against the Red Wings. He can barely open his mouth to talk which showed that he was severely injured. That didn’t stop him from trying to get a helmet approved by then NHL president Clarence Campbell so he can play. His request was denied.

He retired after the 1953-54 season and went on to coach the Montreal Junior Canadiens and Montreal Royals for two seasons.

Trivia

He played 664 regular season games in the NHL.215 goals, 408 assists earning him a total of 623 points.

During his career he won the Stanley Cup in 1944, 1946 and 1953.

He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

He was the first official recipient of the Art Ross Trophy in 1948 and the Hart Trophy in 1945.

In 1944-45 he led the NHL with 80 points, but it was before the creation of the Art Rose Trophy.

He was part of the Habs “Punch line” with Maurice Richard and Toe Blake.

On February 23, 1952 he passed Bill Cowley as the NHL’s all-time leader in scoring by recording his 549th point.

He was voted on the First All-Star Team Centre 1945, 1948 and 1952 and on the Second All-Star Team Centre 1944 and 1946.

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~ by Hockey Ink on September 28, 2008.

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