Thursday, November 18, 2010

Playing for Peanuts

John Benedict "Peanuts" O'Flaherty started his National Hockey League career with the New York Americans in 1940-41. A rugged right winger, O'Flaherty saw action in 10 games and recorded 4 goals. The following year he played in 11 games (1 goal / 1 assist) with the renamed Brooklyn Americans.

The balance of his playing time was spent in various leagues, including the American Hockey League.

During the 1954-55 season, O'Flaherty was coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the NOHA (Northern Ontario Hockey Association). In addition to his coaching responsibilities, he participated in 3 games as a player.

In the spring of 1955, when the Greyhounds set their sights on the Allan Cup, they decided to change their look. No, they didn't change their style of play, or the colour of the team jersey. Peanuts O'Flaherty and his team decided to grow beards.

In the current world of hockey, this is a common experience. However, in 1955 it was news. Looking at vintage photographs throughout the years, it is very rare to see a player with facial hair beyond a neatly trimmed mustache.

Was coach O'Flaherty and his players thinking way ahead of their time?

Unfortunately, this endeavour didn't help their cause. The Greyhounds lost the Ontario Senior "A" hockey championship to the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchman.

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