Monday

Les Kozak

Les Kozak was a solid prospect of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Born in Dauphin, Manitoba on October 28, 1940, Kozak played his junior hockey with the famous St. Michael's Majors of the OHA for 3 seasons. In that time, the 6' 185lb left winger scored 37 goals and 77 points in 123 games. A good skater and clean player, the Leafs were impressed enough to sign him knowing that he would need time to develop first at the minor league level.

A very religious man, Kozak actually quit hockey for 1 year at the age of 20. He would have turned pro and gone to the Leafs training camp, but instead he entered the Seminary. He missed the entired 1960-61 season while studying to become a priest.

Kozak returned to hockey the following year. He appeared in 12 games with the Leafs and even scored 1 goal, but spent most of his time with the AHL's Rochester Americans developing his game. However his career came to a tragic end on February 23, 1962. Playing against Providence, Kozak suffered a severe head injury. He was carried off the ice and never played competitive hockey ever again.

It is assumed Les Kozak continued persuing his religious beliefs following his hockey days.

Kozak certainly isn't the only religious man to play in the NHL. In fact an ordained minister with ties to the Toronto Maple Leafs played one game in 1943. George Abbott doubled his religious duties as the Leafs practice goaltender. When the Boston Bruins came to town in November of 1943, their goalie, Bert Gardiner, became violently ill and couldn't partipate in the game. As teams didn't carry backup goalies at the time, the Leafs allowed the Bruins to use their practice goalie for the game.

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