Hockey leg­end Elmer Lach dies at 97

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Hall of Famer Elmer Lach, who was the old­est sur­viv­ing NHL player, died Satur­day morn­ing at the age of 97.

A mem­ber of Mon­treal’s fa­mous Punch Line along with Mau­rice “Rocket” Richard and Toe Blake, Lach won three Stan­ley Cups with the Cana­di­ens be­fore re­tir­ing in 1954 as the league’s all-time points leader with 623.

“Ev­ery mem­ber of the Cana­di­ens or­ga­ni­za­tion is pro­foundly sad­dened and touched by the death of Mr. Lach,” said Cana­di­ens pres­i­dent Ge­off Mol­son. “Elmer Lach was a determined player who en­joyed a great ca­reer with the Cana­di­ens and who be­came an im­por­tant part of the com­mu­nity in Mon­treal.

“On be­half of the Mol­son fam­ily and all mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, I of­fer my sin­cere con­do­lences to the mem­bers of his fam­ily.”

Lach was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1918. He was a free agent when he was signed by the Cana­di­ens in Oc­to­ber 1940 af­ter be­ing re­jected by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who con­sid­ered him too small.

He made up for his lack of size with his slick play­mak­ing skills, grit in the cor­ners and his tenac­ity on de­fence.

Lach was 42 days older than for­mer Bos­ton Bruin Milt Sch­midt, mak­ing him the old­est sur­viv­ing NHL player be­fore his death.

Lach spent each of his 14 NHL sea­sons with Mon­treal from 1940-54, help­ing the Cana­di­ens win Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onships in 1944, ‘46 and ‘53.

He also cap­tured the Hart Tro­phy as league’s most valu­able player in 1945 when he tal­lied 26 goals and 54 as­sists for 80 points in just 50 games.

The Lach- cen­tered “Punch Line” dom­i­nated the NHL for four sea­sons. He was in­ducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

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