John "Goose" McCormack

Though long-necked Johnny "Goose" McCormack was a scoring sensation with the junior leagues with the St Michaels Majors and in the Ontario senior leagues with the Toronto Marlies, he was known as a defensive player extraordinaire at the NHL level.

McCormack had trouble breaking into a regular role with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was with the Leafs for 4 seasons, but only played regularly in two of those, and then he only played enough to score no more than 6 goals in a season.

In 1951, after earning a Stanley Cup with the Leafs, Toronto sold McCormack's hockey rights to Montreal. The story behind his departure from Toronto is interesting. He had schedule a marriage during the hockey season. He apparently got his girlfriend pregnant, thus making an off-season marriage impossible due to a lack of time. Leafs boss Conn Smythe was so enraged when he found out that he demoted McCormack to the minor leagues before eventually trading him to the Canadiens, never to play for the Leafs again.

He would go onto be a key defensive specialist in Montreal. In his first year he scored only twice, while in 1952-53 he only had one goal in 59 games. But he was a key player in the Stanley Cup finals as the Habs defeated the Red Wings. Habs coach Dick Irvin had Goose and Bert Olmstead on the ice any time the great Gordie Howe was out there. Their job was to shadow Howe, and never leave him unattended, even if the play was in deep in the opposite end from where Howe was. Goose and Olmstead did a great job as the Habs won the Cup.

Ironically, Goose was sent to the minors during the 1953-54 season. It was ironic because Goose had 5 goals for Montreal that season, 3 more than he scored in the previous two years with Montreal. He also had a career high 15 points in one season.

The Habs felt McCormack was replaceable in the summer of 1954, and exposed him in the Intra League draft. John was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks. He played one season with Chicago, scoring 5 goals and 12 points.

After just one season with Chicago, McCormack was included in a huge trade which saw himself, Dave Creighton, Gord Hollingworth and Jerry Toppazzini go to Detroit for Tony Leswick, Glen Skov, Johnny Wilson and Benny Woit. However McCormack never played with the Wings. He spent the 1955-56 season, his last in pro hockey, with the WHL's Edmonton Flyers.


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