Edgar Laprade was the reason I became a lifelong New York Rangers fan. I grew up at a gold mine townsite on the outskirts of Geraldton, Ont., some 260 kilometres northeast of Mr. Laprade’s hometown of Port Arthur, which is now part of Thunder Bay. When I began to get interested in hockey in the late 1940s, my parents told me about the 1939 Geraldton Gold Miners amateur team, which had taken Mr. Laprade’s Port Arthur Bearcats to a final and deciding playoff game on the Bearcats’ way to winning the Allan Cup as the best Canadian senior hockey team.
Edgar Laprade was well into his professional career with the Rangers and as far as I was concerned, this was the closest I was going to get in having a “hometown” hockey hero. When my family moved to Toronto several years later I was able to attend most of the Rangers-Leafs games during the last two years of Mr. Laprade’s career. In those days, hockey games at Maple Leaf Gardens were relatively affordable. A few dollars would buy a standing-room ticket just above the uppermost seating area, and after securing a good vantage point and coercing someone to save your spot it was possible to go down to ice level during the pregame team warmups. Mr. Laprade was very accommodating in providing autographs (as were many other players on both teams) and once he became aware of where I came from he would invariably skate over to where I was standing rinkside during subsequent pregame warmups to indulge in a bit of conversation.
I shall never forget his generous nature. Edgar Laprade was a true gentleman who represented his hometown well. He was a terrific hockey player and no doubt a role model for the many NHL hockey players who have come out of the Lakehead. Current examples include the four Staal brothers and Patrick Sharp – who coincidentally wears Edgar Laprade’s number, 10, albeit for the Chicago Blackhawks.– N.C. Carter, Victoria, B.C
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