Friday, 17 February 2012

Dr. Jerry Laflamme

Dr. William "Jerry" Laflamme, noted dentist and hockeyist, was a fixture in the Ontario Hockey Association senior ranks throughout the 1910s, always serving as his team's captain. He captained the St. Michael's squad to the Allan Cup in 1910 (his first year in senior hockey), and did the same for the Toronto Dentals in 1917. Playing centre for the first half of his career and defence for the second, Laflamme was always noted for his speed, knowledge of the game and leadership.

He led the OHA in goals in 1911/12, playing on a team with Hall-of-Famers Frank Rankin and Frank Foyston. He played for six different senior OHA clubs, which compiled a combined record of 55-19-1 when he was a regular. He was later an NHL referee, and was a coach of the Montreal Maroons for one season.

After his offensive outburst in 1911/12, Laflamme apparently changed his focus to defence (while still playing centre), leaving the goal-scoring to Rankin. He still produced a few goals, but his defensive efforts made his team an outstanding defensive squad, and if there had been a Selke Award at the time, he would surely have been in the running. His Point Allocation numbers in 1912/13 make his look like a blueliner rather than a centre, which he certainly was. He made the switch to defence for real in 1915/16, and continued to put up solid performances.

Laflamme was a fast, skilled player, and very tough to boot; he did not miss games unless he meant to. He excelled at all facets of the game, having no particular weakness. His "hockey sense" was likely his best feature.
He is a dental student, and no centre in Canada understands the scoring game better than “Jerry”. He is fast, as quick as a flash, carries his forwards with him in passing rushes, and is always watchful until something happens. (New York Times, 25 Feb 1910)
For the match tomorrow night the Torontos will be greatly strengthened by the services of Jerry Laflamme at centre. He is conceded to be one of the fastest forwards in the OHA... (Montreal Gazette, 27 Feb 1912)
Jerry Laflamme is made of the real stuff. He started out with a very sore leg...and before the first half ended he fell on [an opponent's] skate and opened a nasty gash over his eye. It took five stitches to close the cut, and Jerry gamely went into the fray in the second half. It failed to slow him up one bit. (Toronto World, 22 Feb 1913)
The second quote above, referring to Laflamme joining the Torontos, comes from a time that several strong offers were made by NHA Toronto teams for his services. Laflamme ultimately did not accept the offer, and did not turn professional. This likely had nothing to do with desires to remain "pure", but instead reflected the fact that "amateur" players often made as much as the pros did at the time.

Had he joined the Toronto Hockey Club, Laflamme would have been a very good NHA player, judging by his Point Allocation results. Not a superstar certainly, but a highly effective man. Toronto didn't make out so badly, of course. Not being able to sign Laflamme, they instead added a teammate of his to play centre the following season in future Hall-of-Famer Frank Foyston. As good as Laflamme was, Foyston was certainly the better man.

1910Toronto St. MichaelsOHA58016001.
1911Toronto St. MichaelsOHA58016005.3-
1912Toronto EatonsOHA48016006.2-
1913Toronto St. MichaelsOHA58016000.54.5-
1914Toronto St. MichaelsOHA58016003.
1915Toronto St. MichaelsOHA58016001.
1916Toronto ArgonautsOHA37218000.
1917Toronto DentalsOHA34812000.
1918Toronto DentalsOHA38020000.
1919Toronto NewmansOHA38020002.4-
1920Toronto GranitesOHA38020000.
1921Toronto GranitesOHA38200-

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