Obit of the Day: Olympic Record Holder for 50 Years
Years ago, the team that represented Canada in international competition was the top amateur team.* In 1958, the Whitby Dunlops, named for the famous tire company, won the hockey world cup. The team wore their regular season uniform, but added four gold maple leafs to honor and represent their country. They beat the Soviet Union, a team composed of “amateurs” who played all the time and were supported by the state, in a one-game match. Some credit a speech given by injured Dunlops star, Fred Etcher, for inspiring the upset.
Two years later, Etcher was playing for the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen, who would represent Canada in the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. Etcher and his teammates were hoping to erase their performance from four years earlier. The 1956 team was the first Canadian team to fail to win Olympic gold or silver. Etcher, who was on the ‘56 team, performed at a gold medal level putting up 21 points (combination of goals and assists) in seven games - an Olympic record for over fifty years.
Etcher failed to put up a point in only one game in the tournament: a 2-1 loss to the United States. The U.S. rode the upset all the way to the gold medal, while Canada was left with the silver. When hockey is your national game, second was not acceptable. Unfortunately, Canada would not win a hockey gold medal for another 42 years.
Etcher never played in the NHL and spent his life working as an engineer for General Motors. He was 79 years old.
* Starting in 1964 the teams were comprised of the best players from across the nation.
(Image courtesy of Tom Hawthorn’s blog. Hawthorn is a hockey writer for the Toronto Globe and Mail and maintains an excellent hockey blog.)
For entertainment purposes here is a team photo in color:
It was not large enough to use as the main photo.