August ‘Gus’ Bodnar was born in Fort William on April 24, 1923. Advancing up through the minor ranks, he made his way onto the forward line of the Hurricane Junior Rangers in 1942. Known for his good speed and stick handling abilities, he was signed on by the Toronto Maple Leafs for the start of the 1943-44 season. He proved the scouting reports correct the moment he stepped onto the ice for his very first NHL game on October 30th, 1943. In the opening face-off against New York, he scored his first NHL goal just 15 seconds into his first shift. It marked the start of a very successful season, and NHL career, with his 22 goals and 40 assists earning him the Calder Trophy, as the 1943-44 NHL Rookie of the Year.
Claiming two Stanley Cups with the Leafs in 1945 and 1947, he was a member of the Leafs famous Flying Forts line, alongside fellow Fort William players Gaye Stewart and Bud Poile. Traded to Chicago in 1947, in a historic trade that saw the Leafs acquire Max Bentley, he set another record playing with the Black Hawks. On March 23rd, 1952, in the final night of the regular season, Gus was on a line with George Gee and Bill Mosienko. When Mosienko entered the history books by netting three goals in 21 seconds, it was Gus that joined him for the fastest three NHL assists.
Finishing up his 12 season career in Boston, with an NHL record of 142 goals and 254 assists in 667 games, he moved on to an illustrious coaching career. In 1967 he was at the helm of the Toronto Marlboros when they defeated the Port Arthur Marrs to claim the Memorial Cup. In 1972 he earned OHL Coach of the Year honours with the Oshawa Generals. Gus remained in Oshawa following his coaching days, enjoying his retirement time on the golf course and spending time with his grandchildren.
This outstanding hockey player and coach passed away on July 1, 2005. In a most fitting tribute to his contributions to the game, just six days prior to his passing, he had been provided the opportunity to spend his day with the Stanley Cup and to take a customary sip from the holy grail of the game he had played so well.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, October 1, 1983