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Frontenacs 50th

April 11, 2013

Frontenacs logoToday’s installment in a daily series that recalls the story of the 1962-63 Kingston Frontenacs, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their Eastern Professional Hockey League championship season

Fifty years ago today, Thursday, April 11, 1963

Pat (Whitey) Stapleton longs to return to the National Hockey League but he fears he may never get another opportunity.

“I think they’ve written me off,” Stapleton, who played all of last season and the first 21 games of this year with the Boston Bruins before he was sent to Kingston, told Whig-Standard sports editor Doug McConnell.

McConnell describes Stapleton as the Kingston team’s “prankster, the clown prince of the Frontenacs.”

“I guess that’s one thing they didn’t like about me in Boston,” Stapleton said. “I guess they didn’t think I was serious enough about my playing.”

McConnell writes that Stapleton’s practical jokes and never-ending humour “keep the rest of the Frontenacs loose in a season when being loose wasn’t easy, (since) almost every game was a crucial one.”

McConnell writes, for instance, that Stapleton’s lighthearted approach off the ice helped bring rookie centre Billy Knibbs into his own, given him confidence, made him a 20-goal man and one of the best penalty-killing forwards in the league.

“(Stapleton) is the best thing that ever happened to him,” said Bun Cook, the old pro who is now the Frontenacs trainer.

Modest as well as talented, Stapleton wouldn’t take any credit for fostering the camaraderie among the Frontenacs. “This is a great team. They’re a good bunch of guys. There is usually one guy in the bunch who will spoil things but not on the Frontenacs.”

Stapleton had 10 goals, 36 points and 92 penalty minutes in 49 regular-season games with Kingston. He eventually landed back in the NHL full-time in 1966. He spent the next 12 years in the major leagues, mostly with the Chicago Blackhawks, and was one of just three players to play for Canada in both the 1972 and 1974 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

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