Hockey leg­end dies

Area res­i­dent Pierre Pilote won a Stan­ley Cup with the Chicago Black­hawks in 1961.


Area hockey fans are mourn­ing the loss of a Na­tional Hockey League leg­end.

Hall of Fame de­fence­man Pierre Pilote died Satur­day in Barrie at age 85 fol­low­ing a bat­tle with can­cer.

While Pilote was born in Que­bec, he moved with his fam­ily to On­tario as a teenager.

The fa­ther of four and his late wife, An­nie, even­tu­ally set­tled in Wye­vale, near Mid­land.

Pi­lot el ed the Chicago Black­hawks to the Stan­ley Cup in 1961 and also col­lected the James Nor­ris Memo­rial Tro­phy as the league’s best de­fence­man three times.

“The man was a hockey leg­end,” said Pene­tan­guishene res­i­dent L. Waxy Gre­goire, who co-wrote a book on Pilote with friend David Dupuis en­ti­tled Heart of the Black­hawks: The Pierre Pilote Story.

“We’d be­come pretty tight and had a lot of laughs to­gether,” Gre­goire added. “He was easy to talk to. He re­ally built a lot of friend­ships.”

He said Pilote ex­em­pli­fied hard work and re­searched al­most ev­ery­thing he did “whether it was plant­ing toma­toes or (play­ing) the stock mar­ket” to en­sure he got it right the first time.

“He was no­body’s fool,” Gre­goire said. “He was very me­thod­i­cal.”

Pilote played a to­tal of 14 sea­sons in the NHL, from 1955-1969, 13 of those with the Black­hawks and one — his fi­nal sea­son — with

Pierre was Bobby Orr be­fore Bobby Orr.” Glenn Hall

the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Black­hawks or­ga­ni­za­tion is­sued a state­ment of­fer­ing its con­do­lences to Pilote’s fam­ily, in­clud­ing chil­dren Denise, Pierre Jr., Renée and David, along with many grand­chil­dren and great­grand­chil­dren as well as his com­pan­ion, June Gerdes-Beard.

“He will be re­mem­bered for his tough­ness, lead­er­ship and re­li­a­bil­ity on the ice — as proven by his cap­taincy and streak of 376 con­sec­u­tive games played,” the state­ment read. “We will for­ever be grate­ful for his in­cred­i­ble con­tri­bu­tion to the Black­hawks and the game of hockey.”

Pilote served as team cap­tain of the Black­hawks fol­low­ing their Stan­ley Cup win­ning sea­son in 1961 to 1968. He played in 821 games and scored 477 points (77 goals, 400 as­sists) for Chicago.

He was traded to the Leafs from Chicago in 1968 for Jim Pap­pin.

Pilote added three goals and 18 as­sists to his ca­reer num­bers dur­ing his one sea­son in Toronto.

“Pierre was Bobby Orr be­fore Bobby Orr,” Glenn Hall, the Black­hawks’ Hall of Fame goalie, said on the Black­hawks’ web­site.

Pilote was in­ducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975, with Chicago re­tir­ing his No. 3 sweater in 2008.

But be­sides his North Amer­i­can hockey ex­ploits, Pilote also served as the am­bas­sador for the Pene­tan­guishene Sports Hall of Fame.

Gre­goire said Pilote was al­ways ac­com­mo­dat­ing to fans and con­tin­ued to be ac­tive by par­tic­i­pat­ing in char­ity golf tour­na­ments as well as alumni and Hockey Hall of Fame events.

“Even last year, he at­tended Fergie Jenk­ins’ golf tour­na­ment,” Gre­goire said, not­ing Pilote al­ways thought he’d bounce back from can­cer. “He just did a (hockey) card sign­ing a month ago.”

But even dur­ing friendly golf tour­na­ments, Gre­goire said Pilote was al­ways pre­pared and would prac­tise at the driv­ing range and put­ting green be­fore­hand.

“Pierre wasn’t go­ing to be em­bar­rassed. You don’t get to the top of the totem pole with­out prac­tice.”

Pierre wasn’t go­ing to be em­bar­rassed. You don’t get to the top of the totem pole with­out prac­tice.” L. Waxy Gre­goire


Pierre Pilote of the Chicago Black­hawks is shown in this Oc­to­ber 1962 posed ac­tion shot. Pilote, a three-time Nor­ris Tro­phy win­ner who helped the Black­hawks win the Stan­ley Cup in 1961, died on Satur­day in Barrie. He was 85.


Pierre Pilote flashes a smile dur­ing the un­veil­ing of the NHL stamp se­ries fea­tur­ing Orig­i­nal Six de­fence­men, in­clud­ing him­self, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in this file photo from Oc­to­ber 2014. The Wye­vale res­i­dent died in Barrie on Satur­day fol­low­ing a bat­tle with can­cer. He was 85.

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