As the calendar turns to June, that can only mean one thing, another talk at the Oldtimers lunch!
This month, I gave a speech on former Leaf, Ranger, North Star and Los Angeles Kings forward Bob Nevin. The soft-spoken right-winger was born in South Porcupine, Ontario, and travelled south when his family moved to Toronto.
A product of the Toronto Maple Leafs system, Nevin won a Memorial Cup with the Toronto Marlboros in 1956 and Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs in 1962 and 1963.
While mostly identified as a Toronto Maple Leaf, Nevin's next stop in his NHL career highlighted his strengths on the ice and leadership abilities.
On February 22, 1964, a controversial trade sent Nevin, Dick Duff and a package of prospects to the New York Rangers in exchange for Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney.
Rangers coach, Red Sullivan, was more than happy to have Nevin in his line-up. "He's very good in the corners and as good as he's been, I know he can be better," Sullivan said shortly after the trade.
At the end of the 1963-64 season, New York goalie, Jacques Plante, commented on the contributions made by the two ex-Leafs. "The morale of the team seemed to change for the better when Duff and Nevin started going for us."
The degree to which New York held Nevin's leadership skills came on February 5, 1965. Immediately after a trade sent long-time Ranger Camille Henry to Chicago, Nevin was named team captain, a position previously held by Henry.
Another highlight from Nevin's time in the Big Apple came on February 18, 1968. On that date, the Rangers opened the new Madison Square Gardens, which was built above Penn Station. As the New York Times noted in their game story, "Bob Nevin, the team captain, scored the first New York goal after snaring a face-off pass from Phil Goyette."
Bob Nevin remained a Ranger until a trade on May 25, 1971, sent him to the Minnesota North Stars.