Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Hank Goldup, hockey player (1918-2008)
By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
February 3, 2009
Hank Goldup’s name is engraved on the Stanley Cup, proof of his contributions on behalf of the winning team in one of the most storied championship series in hockey history.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, having lost the three opening games of the 1942 finals, faced almost certain defeat. The Detroit Red Wings players, confident and magnanimous on the cusp of victory, even invited the Leafs to join them at their pending celebration.
The concluding games were wild affairs even by hockey’s lawless standards. After one match, Detroit’s general manager stepped onto the ice to punch the referee. The Leafs upset all predictions by winning three games in a row, setting up a seventh-game showdown the anticipation of which thrilled the sporting world.
A large crowd — at 16,218 the largest live hockey audience in Canada to that time — filled every nook of Maple Leaf Gardens. Among them was Mr. Goldup, dressed in street clothes. He had been benched.
Henry George Goldup seemed destined for stardom from early in his hockey career, though it is said he did not possess a pair of skates of his own until age 16. At 17, he dominated the amateur league in his hometown of Kingston, Ont., scoring 29 goals in just 16 games. Such proficiency caught the attention of Conn Smythe, owner and general manager of the Maple Leafs, who brought the youngster west to finish his schooling, both on the ice and off, at Northern Vocational in Toronto.
A lean figure at 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, the left winger played on the school’s first line, which was centred by Herb (Swivel Hips) Carnegie, the son of Jamaican immigrants. (Mr. Carnegie would be frustrated in his ambition to play in the National Hockey League, a failure owing more to the colour of his skin than any deficiencies in his play.) In the provincial playoffs, Mr. Carnegie averaged a goal per game, while Mr. Goldup averaged two. Their school won the Ontario Junior-B title, Mr. Goldup suffering a severely bruised shoulder in the penultimate game.
He was the league scoring champion the following season with the Toronto Marlboros, recording 25 goals and 16 assists in just 14 games.
Mr. Goldup turned professional with the Pittsburgh Hornets in 1939, although he was wearing the blue-and-white sweater of the Maple Leafs before the season ended. Placed on a line with centreman Pete Langelle, a fellow rookie, and journeyman winger Gus Marker, the trio added spark to Toronto’s attack. “You can’t keep from cheering these fellows,” the Globe touted in a headline.
Though Mr. Goldup managed just six goals in 21 games, and showed a disinclination to do much backchecking, his midseason promotion seemed a stroke of genius by playoff time. He scored five goals in 10 games, including a couple of third-period game winners, to tie for the lead in playoff scoring with teammate Syl Apps, the Leafs centreman who had narrowly lost a bid for a seat in the House of Commons during the playoffs.
After one of his game-winning goals in the finals, the Globe praised the popular rookie.
“Hankus Pankus Goldup added another sparkling all-round performance to his fine work in the first and second Stanley Cup title games and was the most consistently dangerous puck-pusher all evening,” the newspaper reported.
In the end, however, the New York Rangers claimed the Stanley Cup, a trophy the club would not win again for 54 years.
Those dramatic goals made Mr. Goldup something of a fan favourite at Maple Leaf Gardens, the arena at which he had been skating since high school. However, the playoff scoring magic deserted him in following seasons. He never again scored a post-season goal in the NHL.
At the start of his sophomore campaign, he was dubbed the Great Goldup and Goal-A-Game Goldup.
On Nov. 30, 1940, the speedy winger made life miserable for goalie Earl Robertson and his New York Americans. The visitors jumped to a 1-0 lead in a Saturday night game at the Gardens in Toronto before Mr. Goldup went on a spree. He cut through the Amerks defence as though the rearguards were standing still, scoring four consecutive goals, one of those on an unassisted rush. “And after that,” he once told the Globe’s Paul Patton, “I hit the goal post twice.”
Across town, the skaters at the Ravina rink were amused by an update of the hockey game in a public-address announcement in which the score was given as “Goldup 4, Americans 1.”
The Toronto Star said his dipsy-doodle skating “makes Houdini look like a rookie.”
The performance gave Mr. Smythe evidence his faith in the forward had been justified.
“Five years I see him pour rubber into junior nets like he did tonight, and five years I’m told the kid hasn’t got it,” Mr. Smythe told Andy Lytle of the Star. “If all the people who said Goldup is a bum on the ice were here tonight we’d have to hang out the S.R.O. sign.”
Late in the game, Mr. Goldup suffered a bone bruise in his foot, the first of a series of nagging injuries that would hinder his career.
In January, 1941, he tumbled into a goal post, in those days rigidly set into the ice, suffering a fractured hip. He did not return until the playoffs.
Other injuries limited him to just 44 games in 1941-42, during which he scored 12 goals and 18 assists for his best NHL performance yet. The Leafs eliminated the league-leading Rangers in the semifinals to face the Red Wings in the finals. After Detroit’s three opening victories, coach Hap Day made wholesale changes to his roster, sitting veteran defenceman Bucko McDonald and others. (Mr. McDonald had greater success on the hustings than teammate Syl Apps, winning a seat in the House of Commons in 1945.) Mr. Goldup was replaced after the fourth game, a Leaf victory, by Gaye Stewart, who would go on to win the Calder Trophy the following season as the top rookie.
Detroit opened the Game Seven showdown by scoring the first goal. This was too much for Mr. Goldup and Mr. McDonald to witness, so they left the Gardens for a nearby sporting goods store, where they paced anxiously. Mr. Goldup later completed two circuits around the downtown block housing the Gardens. In the end, the Leafs won the game, 3-1, and the series, 4-3, to claim the Stanley Cup in a comeback still hailed as the greatest of all time.
Mr. Goldup’s career with the Leafs ended early in his fourth season with the club, when he was traded to the Rangers with Red Garrett in exchange for Babe Pratt, a future member of the Hckey Hall of Fame. Both ex-Leafs enlised in the Canadian armed forces at the end of the season, Mr. Goldup serving in the Army and Mr. Garrett in the navy, the latter killed two years less three days from the trade when his corvette, HMCS Shawinigan, sank with all hands after being struck by a torpedo fired by a German U-boat in the Cabot Strait.
After six seasons in the NHL, Mr. Goldup was sold by the Rangers to the Cleveland Barons, for whom he had his most productive season as pro, scoring 30 goals in the American Hockey League.
But torn ligaments suffered in a summertime softball game effectively ended his playing career, although he did skate briefly for the Washington Lions and the Shawinigan Cataracts of the Quebec senior league before calling it quits. He later became a member of an early touring old-timers’ hockey team.
His popularity as a player helped make him an effective salesman for Molson Breweries and Andres Wines. He later became a sales executive for Victoriaville hockey sticks.
A competitive amateur golfer and a longtime youth hockey coach, Mr. Goldup enjoyed the pleasure of seeing one of his sons follow him into the NHL. Glenn Goldup played 291 games with the Montreal Canadiens and the Los Angeles Kings.
The elder Mr. Goldup was inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and named to the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
A stroke suffered in 2002 robbed Mr. Goldup of his speech. However, when the Stanley Cup was presented to him three years ago at the care facility in which he resided, the former player managed to whisper the trophy’s storied name.
“Those were the clearest two words I heard him speak in years,” Glenn Goldup said.
Before his death, some of Mr. Goldup’s souvenirs were sold in an online auction. A pair of chenille patches from his team jacket got a top bid of $646 US. A bidder paid $4,719 US for a loonie-sized gold coin engraved with the legend: “Pass. Henry Goldup. World’s Champion. To Maple Leaf Gardens Any Time.”
A 10-karat gold ring honouring the 1942 Stanley Cup triumph sold for $14,850 US, far more than he ever earned in any season as a player.
Henry George (Hank) Goldup was born on Oct. 29, 1918, at Kingston, Ont. He died in his sleep on Dec. 14 at The Village of Erin Meadows long-term care facility in Mississauga, Ont. He was 90. He leaves his companion, Helen Derbyshire; three sons; five daughters; 11 grandchildren; and, five great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Margaret, who died in 1999. He was also predeceased by a daughter, Barbara; a sister; and, a brother.