Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Quackenbush, Bill

Quackenbush, Bill

Defenseman Hubert "Bill"Quackenbush excelled at both offensive and defensive aspects of the game. During 14 seasons, he was among the NHL's elite rushing blueliners. More significantly, he was a superior defender in his own end who relied on positioning and discipline rather than physical intimidation for his success. Consequently, his penalty minute totals were remarkably low considering his role on the ice.

Quackenbush began gaining local attention with the OHA's Toronto Native Sons in 1940-41 when he registered 13 points in as many games. Detroit Red Wings scout Carson Cooper noticed him the following year while he was playing with the Brantford Juniors under coach Tommy Ivan, who himself later became head coach of the Red Wings.

The young rearguard wasn't looking out of place during a ten-game call-up with Detroit in 1942-43 until he broke his wrist. After recovering from his injury, the parent club decided it was preferable that he spend the remainder of his first pro year with the Indianapolis Capitals of the AHL. He joined the Red Wings' defense corps permanently the following season.

By the late 1940s, he'd evolved into one of hockey's top blueliners. Three times Quackenbush was placed on the NHL's First All-Star Team and twice he was selected to the Second Team.

At the conclusion of the 1948-49 season, he became the first defenseman to win the Lady Byng Trophy. It was at this time that Quackenbush was in the midst of one of the NHL's more astounding individual achievements. He managed to go 131 consecutive games without drawing a penalty. The streak began with the final five regular-season games and 10 playoff games in 1947-48, 60 regular-season and 11 post-season matches the next year and the first 45 games in 1949-50. During this penalty-free period, Quackenbush's regular defense partner was the equally mild-mannered Red Kelly, who later became the second rearguard to win the Lady Byng.

Amazingly, he incurred only one major penalty in his entire career, and that was a dubious call based on a quick wrestling match he had with Gaye Stewart. To many observers, he was the prototype of efficiency and finesse in defensive zone coverage. Quackenbush was also considered a master at diffusing any forward's attempt to generate offense from behind his opponent's net.

A month before training camp in 1949, Quackenbush and Pete Horeck were traded to the Bruins for several players, including future Stanley Cup hero Pete Babando. Quack's rushes with the puck helped endear him to the Beantown supporters who hadn't seen this type of daring play from the blue line since the days of Eddie Shore.

In 1950-51, the elder Quackenbush had the opportunity to play with his younger brother Max, a lanky defenseman who was 3 inches taller. Later that season, the Bruins' blue line brigade was decimated by injury, leaving Quackenbush as the only experienced player. He was forced to play 55 minutes in one contest, a test of his stamina and experience. He retired in 1956 and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976.

Esso hockey medals of achievement