Friday, June 29, 2012

Enio Sclisizzi: 1925-2012

I last interviewed Enio Sclisizzi on June 4, 2012  for an upcoming project. As usual, Sclisizzi was more than willing to answer my questions and his thoughtful replies were music to my ears.

Coming off a medical procedure, I admired Sclisizzi's ability to move about, along with his upbeat approach.

Unfortunately, it was my final opportunity to sit down and chat about hockey with this true gentleman.

Enio Sclisizzi passed away this week at the age of 86.

In September 2011, I published an extensive interview with Sclisizzi, outlining his career in the game - A Chat with Enio Sclisizzi.

As pointed out in my previous story, Enio Sclisizzi's first taste of life in the National Hockey League came in April 1947, while suiting-up for the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings were engaged in a playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Growing-up in southern Ontario, Sclisizzi spent Saturday nights huddled around the radio listening to Foster Hewitt call Leaf games from Maple Leaf Gardens.

On April 5, 1947, Sclisizzi became one of the names filling the airways by Hewitt. In his debut performance, Sclisizzi and the Detroit Red Wings lost to Toronto by a score of 6-1.

Almost a year later, on March 20, 1948, Sclisizzi returned to Toronto and played his first regular season contest in the Gardens. And he did it in style. At 3:35 of the second period, Sclisizzi directed a 15-foot shot at the Toronto goal, which Turk Broda was unable to stop. The kid from Milton, Ontario was living the dream when he scored his first NHL tally versus the Maple Leafs.

Having played only 81 NHL games with Detroit and Chicago, the bulk of Sclisizzi's time in hockey came in the minor leagues.

In the American Hockey League, Sclisizzi was part of the 1949-50 Indianapolis Capitals, who captured the Calder Cup. The Detroit affiliate won the title in a mininum of eight games.

No matter where he laced-up his skates, Sclisizzi received high praise from those in-charge.

After spending part of the 1952-53 season with the Calgary Stampeders in the WHL, Sclisizzi switched sides and signed with the defending WHL champs in Edmonton.

"If Sliz comes through, and I'm sure he will, we can win it again," commented Edmonton coach Bud Poile.

When Sclisizzi joined the Buffalo Bisons (AHL) for the 1955-56 campaign, general manager Fred Hunt noted the reasons for the move.

"I wanted a proven scorer among our left wingers. Enio has always been a 30 or near 30 goal scorer in the American and Western Leagues. Last year with Edmonton, he scored 29 times. He was always a fluid skater and that type of player ages much less rapidly than one who labors on his skates," observed Hunt.

One of the most interesting aspects concerning Sclisizzi was the pronounciation of his last name. For Foster Hewitt, it became a nightmare. His difficulty in tackling this task, resulted in Sclisizzi changing his identity to Jim Enio. This all came about during training camp in 1948.

This situation would last until mid-January 1952, when Sclisizzi was called-up for a fifth time by Red Wings management. Watching their farm hand dazzle in Indianapolis, former NHL player Ott Heller informed Wings general manager, Jack Adams, of Sclisizzi's scoring prowess with the Capitals. He was leading the team in goals with 18.

Upon being summoned by Detroit, Adams made what the Hockey News called a "formal announcement."

"Adams specified that he would be known as Sclisizzi henceforth. The "Jim Enio" alias is a matter of the past," wrote Marshall Dann in the bible of hockey.

Enio Sclisizzi was born on August 1, 1925 in Milton, Ontario. He passed away on June 27, 2012.

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