In his time, Charlie "The Big Bomber" Conacher had the hardest shot in hockey, a notorious blast that eluded goaltenders and dented rink boards. As a member of one of the most dangerous lines in hockey history, the Toronto Maple Leafs' Kid Line of the 1930s, right wing Conacher and left wing Harvey "Busher" Jackson were the beneficiaries of center Joe Primeau's slick passes as the threesome found itself near the top of the scoring lists for the better part of a decade.
Charlie Conacher came from a family of 10 siblings, many of whom were also gifted athletes. Few would dispute that Charlie was the best hockey-playing Conacher, although older brother Lionel and younger brother Roy are also Hall of Famers.
Conacher played a year of junior hockey with North Toronto before joining the Toronto Marlboros in 1927. He and Busher Jackson were members of the Marlies' Memorial Cup-winning team in 1929, and together they made the jump to the Maple Leafs in 1929-30. There they were teamed with Joe Primeau, who had been a Leafs farmhand to that point, and because of their youth and inexperience, the three were called "the Kid Line."
With his linemates' help, Conacher became the best right wing in the game over the next half-decade. He was a daring and explosive scorer who used his size 6'1" and 200 pounds in his heyday - to his advantage. He could beat goalies equally well with his booming shot or with a deft move from close range. Once he got moving, he was famous for bowling over anyone between him and the net - and then often the net itself as he crossed the goal line just a few seconds after the puck.
Five times between 1930 and 1936, Conacher either led or tied for the league lead in goal-scoring. He was a Second Team All-Star in his second and third years in the league and a First Team selection for three consecutive seasons beginning in 1933-34. He also helped the Leafs win the Stanley Cup in 1932.
Conacher's style of play - which featured all-out attacks - didn't lend itself to a long career and injuries began to wear the big man down. After nine years with Toronto, he was sold to the Detroit Red Wings, where he played for one year before moving to the New York Americans for two seasons. He retired from play in 1941 but stayed in the game as a coach, guiding the Oshawa Generals to a Memorial Cup championship in 1944 before tutoring younger brother Roy and the rest of the Chicago Black Hawks for three years in the late 1940s.
Charlie Conacher inspired a generation of Leaf players with his hard work and determination. The one battle he couldn't win was with cancer. He died in 1968 after a year-long fight with throat cancer, but in typical Conacher fashion, his legacy has helped in the search for a cure to the disease that claimed him. The Charlie Conacher Research Fund has raised millions for cancer research. Between 1968 and 1984, the Charlie Conacher Memorial Award, a non-NHL trophy, was awarded to the NHL player best exhibiting outstanding humanitarian and public service contributions.