Joe Klukay

Joe Klukay is one of the greatest defensive forwards to ever play the game of hockey.

A strong skater with an above average understanding of the game, Joe learned from the legendary defensive forward Nick Metz when he was a rookie in Toronto in 1946. The two formed a very effective penalty killing unit, often using an uncommon tactic back in those days - heavy forechecking while short handed.

"We just concocted a system for us," explained the man they dubbed the Duke of Paducah. "It had to be the easiest, the most effective way to go about killing a penalty. You had one guy going in and we'd try to contain them in their own end. It worked for ten years so we couldn't knock it."

Metz took Klukay under his wing and taught his eventual replacement everything he knew. Klukay, who was a very effective forechecker, using his speed to jump in on defensemen and his dogged determination and strength to thump the blueliner and create turnovers, was a very important cog of the Leafs Stanley Cup championships of that era, 4 all together.

But in true defensive forward fashion of any era, Joe Klukay's accomplishments were probably unnoticed by many then, and almost entirely forgotten about now.

Klukay actually started out as a scoring prospect with the Leafs farm team, but soon found his niche as a checker. But he did chip in offensively, being a regular 10-15 goal contributor in an era when 25-30 goals was really good.

The life of a hockey player often goes in full cycle. Klukay was brought in with the Leafs as part of a youth movement immediately following World War II. But in 1952 Klukay, now a 6 year veteran of the league, was traded to Boston in another Leafs youth movement. Klukay continued to excel in "Bean Town." His most memorable moment as a member of the Black and Gold came in the semi-finals of the 1953 playoffs. Klukay was assigned to shadow the immortal Gordie Howe. Klukay held Howe to only 2 goals in 6 games, a remarkable achievement. However the Bruins came up short in the championship series.

Klukay was traded back to Toronto late in 1954 where he quietly spent another season a half before retiring from the NHL. He however continued to play senior hockey for many more years in the OHA Sr. circuit, most notably with the Windsor Bulldogs.

If you ever had the chance to coach an all time team, choosing players from any era, you couldn't go wrong with picking Joe Klukay as one of your penalty killing forwards.


Anonymous,  2:31 PM  

Klukay played RW in the 1953 playoffs and was assigned to check Ted Lindsay. Woody Dumart was the LW on that line who shadowed and shut down Gordie Howe.

Derek 5:36 PM  

Regina's Leader Post - March 31st 1953:
Detroiters gave grudging credit to the veteran Woody Dumart for shadowing the Wings’ great Gordie Howe.
Howe, the league’s leading scorer, has been blanketed in the series while Dumart was on the ice.
Howe, who will be 25 Tuesday is probably the strongest player in the league and Dumart, at an official 36, has been shelved at the start of the last three seasons only to turn up each spring as a Boston standout in the playoffs.

Derek 8:48 PM  

Broken Down Trio Leads Boston Bruins
Three supposedly overaged and broken down players, whose combined years total 101 still seem to have enough strength, skill, speed and stamina to spring the most startling playoff upset in NHL history.
They are the Boston Bruins’ Milt Schmidt, 35-year-old captain, and wingers Woody Dumart, 36, and Joe Klukay, 30.
Playing against current hockey’s greatest forward line – Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Marty Pavelich – the Boston veterans have limited those Detroit superstars to five goals and as many assists in four playoff games.
Much to the amazement of the hockey world, the Bruins have beaten the supposedly invincible Stanley Cup defenders in their last three starts and need only another victory to qualify for the final series.
Over the regular 70 game season, the Howe-Lindsay-Pavelich line accounted for 94 goals and 105 assists. They represent much of the terrific scoring punch that has enabled the Red Wings to win the last 5 league championships.
Until the current playoff series the Howe-Lindsay-Pavelich trio appeared capable of scoring at will against any rivals.
But the battered Bostonians have stopped them almost cold in the post season competition. With the canny Schmidt as the mastermind and playmaker, wingers Dumart and Klukay have had little trouble using their great defensive skills to put handcuffs and leg irons on the highly dangerous Howe and Lindsay.
Still one of the greatest stick-handlers in the game, Schmiddy actually toys with his check as Dumart and Klukay devote all of their efforts tying up their opposite rivals.
And while they have been silencing Detroit’s most powerful scoring weapons, the other and much younger Bruin forwards have been able to outscore the rest of the Red Wings.
“I will play just one more season and it’s going to be for another Stanley Cup winner,” Schmidt vowed last fall when, against the judgment of all his admirers, he signed up for another NHL whirl.

Anonymous,  9:57 PM  

Joe Klukay was my first cousin, once removed. I was in awe of him. So famous! And related to me. I met him a few times over the years at family gatherings in the Soo. He was a very generous person. The last time i saw him was at my grandmother's funeral in 1994. Everyone in the family was very proud of him. RIP Joe.

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