Monday

Gerry Foley

Gerry Foley was born in Ware, Massachussetts, making him one of the rare American born hockey players back in the 1950s NHL. But he actually grew up in Garson, Ontario and fell in love with the great Canadian game.

Foley was a solid right winger said to thrive in physical games. Originally Toronto's prospect, he played just 4 games for the Leafs before joining the New York Rangers via a now long defunct intra-league draft.

It was a good pick up for the Rangers, who employed Foley for both the 1956-57 and 1957-58 seasons. He didn't score often - 9 times in 137 games - but he was known as a hard worker and serviceable forward.

That didn't keep him in the NHL though. For the entire 1960s he toiled in the minor leagues, most notably with the Springfield Indians. But when the NHL expanded in 1967-68, the Los Angeles Kings purchased the entire Springfield team and turned them into a minor league affiliate. Foley continued to toil in the minors, but was called up for one more NHL game - a full 10 years after his last appearance with the Rangers!

In 142 total NHL games Gerry Foley scored 9 goals and 14 assists for 23 points.

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Saturday

Larry "Pope" Popein

Larry "Pope" Popein was a speedy defensive centre and penalty killer. He played in the NHL with the New York Rangers, but he spent most of his career playing with two non-NHL teams nicknamed Canucks.

Popein started out as an offensive dynamo with the Moose Jaw Canucks. He turned pro in 1951 with the WHL version of the Vancouver Canucks.

After three years in Vancouver Popein got the call up to the New York Rangers. Imagine that - the kid from small Yorkton, Saskatchewan on his way to the Big Apple. But it really is a small world. In Popein's first NHL game, against the Detroit Red Wings, he faced off against townsman Metro Prystai.

"That was the very first NHL game I ever saw. And I was playing in it," Popein remembered.

He would go on to play in 449 NHL games. He was a small center who brought his proverbial work boots and lunch bucket to every game. He often centered the Rangers big line with Andy Bathgate and Dean Prentice on the wings.

But by the 1960s he was back in Vancouver, starring with the WHL Canucks. He would stay in Vancouver until the NHL expanded in 1967-68 when he got another shot in the big leagues, this time with the Oakland Seals.

Popein hung up the blades by 1970, the same year the Vancouver Canucks became a NHL franchise. Popein, who called Vancouver home, began a coaching career which include a stint coaching the Rangers in New York.

Popein's coaching highlight, however, may have come in 1970. He coached the Omaha Knights to a CHL championship. On that team was future NHL star Syl Apps, Jr., the son of Hockey Hall of Famer and Popein's idol as a youth Syl Apps Sr.

Popein returned to Vancouver and worked in various capacities with the Canucks from 1974 to 1986. He later worked with Calgary primarily as a scout.

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Wally Hergesheimer

Winnipeg born Wally Hergesheimer was the toast of New York in the early 1950s. Never more so than in 1952-53 when he finished 4th in league scoring behind three guys named Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Rocket Richard.

That's pretty impressive company for the man they dubbed "The Garbage Collector." Playing on the "Light Brigade" line with Paul Ronty and Herb Dickenson, Wally always could be found crashing the net, banging away at loose pucks and rebounds.

It worked well, as Wally totalled 114 goals (and 199 points) in 351 career games, mostly with the Rangers. He briefly appeared with Chicago as well.

Not too bad of a career for a man who was missing parts of two fingers. Long before he was in the NHL, Wally lost parts of his right index and middle finger in a punch-press accident.

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Monday

Charlie Mason

Long before anyone had ever heard of Charles Manson, there was a pint sized winger named Charlie Mason speeding down the wings in the National Hockey League.

Given the close resemblance to the infamous serial killer itt is an unfortunate name to have. Fortunately Charlie Mason had a nickname he was often better known by - Dutch Mason.

Dutch, a native of Seaforth, Ontario who starred as an amateur in Saskatchewan, played with the New York Rangers for the better parts of two seasons - 1934/35 and 1935/36. Otherwise he bounced around the minor leagues with brief NHL appearances with Toronto and Chicago. In 93 total NHL games he scored 7 goals and 18 assists for 25 points.

Mason returned to Saskatoon after his hockey career came to end. He opened a hotel.


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Tuesday

Mike York

Mike York cherished his time on hockey's cloud nine.


The Waterford, Michigan native became a two-time Hobey Baker finalist as the top college hockey player in all of the United States in his four year tenure with Michigan State. 

The speedy all-American made an impressive jump to the National Hockey League upon his graduation in 1999. He flourished on the New York Rangers' lethal "FLY" line, quickly becoming a fan favorite while playing with veterans Theo Fleury and Eric Lindros. He scored 26 goals and 50 points in his rookie season, impressing many with his darting speed and surprising toughness that defied his small stature. He also garnered recognition for his reliable defensive play and hard work away from the puck.

"Growing up as a kid I always dreamed of playing in the NHL and then to finally make it here is very special. But at the same time, you have to work just as hard to stay here," York said.

And stay he did. In total he played 579 games (127 goals, 195 assists, 322 points), including three seasons with the Rangers and the next three with Edmonton where he was counted on for his offensive contribution. He also teamed with the Oilers Todd Marchant to become one of the league's top penalty killing duos. York was also part of Team USA's silver medal win at the 2002 Salt Lake games.

York later toiled with the New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Columbus. His skating and defensive conscience helped keep him in the league even when he was not scoring. He was a complete player who most coaches could always find a job for. York was a versatile player who happily put the team first and did whatever was asked of him.

During the lockout season of 2004-05 York travelled to Germany and played for the Iserlohn Roosters. He enjoyed his time there so much, he returned at the end of his NHL career. He extended his playing days by playing in Europe at the end of his career.

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Wednesday

Joe Cooper

Joe Cooper (12) celebrates with Bryan Hextall, Sr. (11).
Joe Cooper was a Winnipeg born defenseman who started and finished his NHL career with the New York Rangers. But the bulk of his career came in the years between in Chicago. He also played in Ottawa with the Commandos hockey team as part of his service in World War II.

Cooper (who actually overcame a scary fractured skull injury early in his career) was a solid, competent but unspectacular defender. But one night he was mistakenly given credit for near-Superman like strength.

In March 1947 the Rangers and Montreal Canadiens had some sort of a disagreement result in an all out brawl. Cooper squared off with big Murph Chamberlain. With one fantastic punch Cooper knocked Chamberlain into the timekeeper's booth. However newspaper reports mistakenly said that Cooper had knocked Chamberlain into the Madison Square Gardens press box, which was located some 50 feet above the timekeeper's spot.

Needless to say, fans reading this story the next morning must have been in great awe!

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