Vic Stasiuk

"You have to have enthusiasm and a love of this game to play. You must keep interested and not get distracted. I can't understand a player who isn't enthusiastic. If you're not enthusiastic, you've got no business out on the ice."

The man who said that was a fellow named Vic Stasiuk. Enthusiasm, not to mention hard work a dedication, work trademarks of Stasiuk, both as a player and a coach.

Like most farm boys from Alberta, Stasiuk was never afraid of hard work. But he learned an early lesson about love of the game from a one-armed rink attendant.

"Before we were in our teens, we were on skates playing hockey against anyone who'd play us," Stasiuk recalled in the February 1970 issue of Hockey Pictorial magazine. "I remember Bill Hutchinson, a one-armed man who used to be the rink attendant at an outdoor rink we used to play on in Lethbridge. He was a lot older than we were, but he loved hockey and he'd get out there and play against us. Now that I'm older I realize just what love of the game this man had, and how his example really helped me in my own career. Without two arms for balance, hockey is really tough, and there he was, up against a lot of youngsters, just for the love of it. It was a lesson for all of us."

Stasiuk is best remembered as a member of the Boston Bruins famous "Uke Line" of the late 1950s. Johnny Bucyk and Bronco Horvath joined Stasiuk on the line.

Stasiuk joined the Bruins in 1955, after several years suffering in Detroit's deep system despite earning a Stanley Cup championship. Joining the Bruins was a great reprieve for him. The following five seasons were his most productive years of his career. He scored 19, 24, 21, 27 and 29 goals, earning the Bruins MVP award in 1958-59.

The Uke Line was broken up in 1960. The media reported it was because of poor defensive play by the trio. Stasiuk disputed that point vehemently. It was said that the bitterness led to his trade back to Detroit.

His second go around in Detroit was a little better. He got the chance to play on left wing with Gordie Howe.

Riding shotgun with Howe did not last long. Just before Christmas 1962 Stasiuk was demoted to the minor leagues.

"I thought the world was falling in. It meant I was being waived out of the NHL - that no one thought I was worth taking a chance on," said Stasiuk. Unhappy, he returned home to Lethbridge for the holidays before finally reporting to the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL.

The move turned out to be far from disastrous like Stasiuk first feared. The next year he became the Hornet's playing coach, starting Stasiuk's interest in coaching.

Stasiuk continued coaching in Pittsburgh, and later coached minor league teams in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. In 1970, that led to Stasiuk's return to the NHL, this time as coach of the Flyers.

Stasiuk was really remembered as a player's coach, hard but fair with his players.

"I always get out there and practice with them. I never ask them to do what I won't do myself, and when i give them a chance to take some whacks at me in practice, I think it helps them to work out that anger they might have."

Despite being popular with the players Stasiuk lasted only two season in Philly. He would resurface for single seasons with California and Vancouver. His all time coaching record was a less than stellar 88-153-66 with only one post season appearance where he lost all four games.


Anonymous,  12:11 PM  

Got to know Vic Stasiuk when I was a kid in Boston. Prince of a man. He would show Bruins highlight reels on Sundays after Mass in the church hall, pass out team autographed sticks, and chat with everyone.

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