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This Fort William hockey product enjoyed an amateur and professional career that took him from the rinks of the East End Athletic Association to the National Hockey League. Spending his junior years as a centre ice performer with the Fort William Columbus Canadiens, his accurate shot netted him 27 goals and the 1957 league scoring title and his 63 point season earned him Rookie of the Year honours. Claiming district titles in all three of his junior years, and the league scoring title in his final year, it was of little surprise when the Montreal Canadiens signed him to a professional contract.

Lacing up for the Montreal Royals of the Eastern Professional Hockey League, he suffered a broken collar bone while scoring his first professional goal. His resilient nature had him back on the ice and onto the scoring charts with Ottawa-Hull and the North Bay Trappers before advancing to the American Hockey League.

With the Cleveland Barons from 1962-67, he again proved himself a top offensive threat. Challenging for the 1963-64 AHL Calder Cup, he led the playoffs with 13 goals and 19 points in just 9 games, setting a new playoff record. His outstanding performance, which included scoring not one but two hat tricks in just one game, was invaluable to Cleveland's Calder Cup victory that season. His talents earned him a position on the 1966 AHL First All-Star Team.

Under contract with Montreal, and with limited opportunities to crack their Stanley Cup winning line-up, Joe's introduction to the NHL did not occur until the expansion years of 1967-68 when, at 29 years of age, he was drafted by the Oakland Seals. In his second season, his 21 points helped the club move from last place to second, earning a playoff spot.

Returning to the AHL, he spent time with the Providence Reds and the Baltimore Clippers before moving over to the World Hockey Association, where he played for the Los Angeles Sharks and the Houston Aeros. At centre ice, and with Gordie Howe on his wing, the Aeros claimed the 1973-74 WHA championship, sweeping Chicago 4-0 in the best of seven series. Retiring in 1975 following a 16 year professional career, he had a total of 90 NHL, 114 WHA and over 600 AHL games to his credit. Passing away in October 2006 this outstanding athlete leaves behind a legacy of success and admiration from all who had the opportunity to know him and see him play.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 29, 2007

Joe Szura

Fort William
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