Wednesday

Garth Boesch

In the early 1940s, Toronto manager Conn Smythe started building what he determined would be a Stanley Cup championship caliber squad.

"Youth is the answer in this game. Only the kids have the drive, the fitness, and the ambition. Put the kids in with a few old guys who still like to win, and the combination is unbeatable." shared Smythe on his vision of success. And Smythe turned out to be right too. The Leafs became the first team in history to win the Cup three times in a row. The Leafs became hockey's first dynasty.

Among the kids Smythe added to the lineup was a steady blue liner named Garth Boesch. Smythe learned of Boesch almost by chance. The Leafs were in Montreal for a game when he overheard a Montreal sportscaster call Garth Boesch the best defensive prospect in all of Western Canada. Smythe soon headed to Saskatchewan to see him play. He was so impressed that he wound up signing him.

Boesch was a wheat farmer who served two years with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Born in Milestone, Saskatchewan in 1920, Boesch was originally a prospect of the New York Americans. However due conscription and war time travel restrictions, Boesch wasn't allowed to leave the country to attend New York's training camp.

Boesch joined the Leafs in 1946 after playing a year in the minors with the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL. Boesch, who was unique in that he was the only NHLer to regularly wear a moustache during the 1940s, would play 4 years with the Leafs and was an important cog in Toronto's three consecutive championships.

Boesch was partnered defensively with Bill Barilko. The two became famous for the "Maginot Line Knee Drop," as both players would simultaneously drop to their knees to blow enemy shots.

Boesch's career was short and sweet. Following the 1949-50 season Boesch had to return to the family farm. His father had passed away that summer and Garth had to return to "make some real money."

Garth Boesch, who later lived near San Francisco, died in May of 1998. He was one of hockey's most underrated D-men in the history of the game. In fact Boesch is the perfect example of why Hockey's Greatest Legends exists. We feel the contributions of players from eras gone by should never be forgotten. You would be hard pressed today to find someone who knows who Garth Boesch was.

Hopefully now you know.

2 comments:

xrayspecs21 10:36 PM  

I am playing in a computer simulated progressive hockey league, and Garth Boesch is one of my defencemen. In season 2, my team won the President's
Trophy and lost a thrilling 7-game final. Boesch was second in the league in plus-minus (to teammate Glen Harmon). I never saw him play, but I am a Boesch fan!

Anonymous,  11:37 PM  

Thanks for the nice article :) The only thing I must take exception with is that you'd be hard pressed to find someone today who knows who Garth was, but that's likely because he was my Uncle Garth! Garth and my Grandpa were cousins and best friends, and they were hilarious together. Garth was a larger than life character and I truly appreciate your post about him.
Thanks again!

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