After three years of junior hockey in Winnipeg during the early forties, Cal Gardner entered the military for the duration of World War II.
Fresh out of the service in 1945, he joined the New York Rovers of the EHL. There he joined forces with wingers Rene Trudel and Church Russell to form the "Atomic Line". Together, they seared their way across the league as Gardner netted 73 points in 40 games.
How could New York Rangers GM Lester Patrick resist such prospects? With his club in the dumps, he couldn't. So he brought the Atomic lads to Broadway. Their collective impact, however, was minimal at best and only Gardner survived beyond three seasons.
After a little more than two campaigns in New York, he was sent to the Leafs -- home of the highlights of his career. Over the next four years Gardner, known as "Pearly", notched 163 points in 247 games, made two All-Star game appearances and, celebrated three Stanley Cup victories.
In 1952, he joined the lowly Blackhawks for one season before settling in for the duration with the Boston Bruins.
After leaving the NHL, Gardner bounced around the minors with the Springfield Indians, the Providence Reds, the Cleveland Barons of the AHL and the Kingston Frontenacs of the EPHL.
Years later, Gardner's two sons, Dave and Paul followed their father's path to the NHL.