Former hockey star Laprade passes away
Edgar Laprade, a decorated NHL star from the 1940s and 1950s, passed away on Monday in his Thunder Bay home. Laprade’s death was confirmed by his daughter Bonnie Morrison to the New York Times.
He was 94.
The former New York Rangers Hall of Fame centre won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 1946 and was known in many circles for skills and sportsmanship on the ice, winning the Lady Byng Trophy in 1950. He played all 10 NHL seasons with the Rangers.
Laprade was born on Oct. 10, 1919, in Mine Centre (east of Fort Frances) but grew up in Port Arthur, which later became part of Thunder Bay. According to Monday’s New York Times obituary, he skated on outdoor rinks as a youngster. “You didn’t feel the cold when you were playing,” Laprade recalled, “but as soon as you stopped, you just froze.”
Laprade spent his amateur hockey years with the Port Arthur Bruins (junior) and Port Arthur Bearcats (senior). He helped lead the Bearcats to the Allan Cup in 1939. The Cup win was the fourth of 10 national titles by teams based in the Thunder Bay region.
Laprade would be part of two other Port Arthur clubs to reach the Allan Cup final, losing in 1939 and 1942.
He joined the Rangers after serving in the Canadian Army, where he also played hockey. At five-foot-eight and 160 pounds during his pro playing prime, Laprade relied on his speed and finesse to make the grade in the Original Six. His style was effective in killing penalties and defence, earning the nickname “The Beaver” for his work ethic.
He scored 108 goals and added 172 assists in 500 regular season games with the Rangers while playing in three NHL all-star games. New York made just two playoff appearances during Laprade’s career. Laprade netted 13 points in those 18 games. The Rangers’ came the closest to the Stanley Cup in 1950 when they lost a memorable Game 7 of the finals to the Detroit Red Wings in double overtime.
Laprade skated alongside fellow Lakehead product Pentti Lund in the Big Apple for all of Lund’s three seasons in the NHL (1948-51), as well as Gaye Stewart (1951-53). Laprade suffered a leg injury that put him in and out of retirement. He hung up the skates for good after the 1955 season.
Laprade opened a sporting good store in Thunder Bay. His wife, Arline, died in 1987. In addition to his daughter Bonnie, he is survived by two other daughters, Judith Doncaster and Marcia Parry; a sister, Merle McDonnell; 7 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
The Hockey Hall of Fame welcomed him in the veterans’ category in 1993. Laprade became a member of the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.