Chicago Blackhawks Pat Stapleton Passes Away at 79

Pat Stapleton
CHICAGO, IL - 1973: Goalie Tony Esposito #35 of the Chicago Blackhawks made the save as teammate Pat Stapleton #12 goes for the puck during an NHL game against the New York Rangers circa 1973 at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)

 

The Chicago Blackhawks have lost a veteran former player who played in 545 NHL games. Pat Stapleton was 79.

Pat Stapleton Gone at Age 79

The dumunitive defenceman who stood 5′-8″, 180 pounds was with the Blackhawks for eight seasons. He accumulated 635 games, tallying 43 goals, 294 assists for 337 points. He also appeared in 65 playoff games gathering 10 goals, 39 assists for 49 total points.

“Whitey” Stapleton started his NHL career in 1961-62 with the Boston Bruins where he played two seasons. He had just two goals eight assists in 90 games with the Bruins. On June 8, 1965 he was traded to Toronto by Boston with Orland Kurtenbach and Andy Hebenton for Ron Stewart. The very next day he was claimed by the Blackhawks in the Intra-League Draft. These were the days of the “original six” NHL teams. Things have sure changed since then.

Stapleton played for two seasons in the WHA with the Chicago Cougars and two seasons for the Indianapolis Racers. He finished his hockey career in 1977-78 with the Cincinnati Stingers.

During his time in the NHL Stapleton reached the Stanley Cup Finals twice in 1970-71 and again in 1972-73. Both times his Blackhawks were eliminated by the powerful Montreal Canadiens. Losing in 1970-71 in seven games and dropping to the Habs again in 1972-73 in six games.

Memories of Pat Stapleton

This writer who grew up in Chicago and has fond memories of watching the Blackhawks mostly on television. Stapleton was one tough customer even though he wasn’t a huge player by any means. He was fast, and hard to check since he had a low center of gravity. Seeing him play along with Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Phil Esposito, and Glenn Hall was quite the thrill.

In eight years with the Blackhawks, Stapleton averaged 0.52 assists a game. He had such talented forwards to pass the puck to that he was kept very busy on the blueline. In the good ‘ol days of the NHL teams would average well over three goals a game. During Stapleton’s first two seasons in the Windy City the team averaged 3.43 goals a game and 3.77 goals a game, both times tops in the league.

On March 30, 1969 Stapleton tied a record for a defenceman with six assists in a game. The ‘Hawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 9-5.

So, two of the five legends who played in Chicago are now gone.

Whitey Stapleton was one hell of a player. He will be missed.

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