|6 ft 2 in (2 m)|
175 lb (80 kg)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Sceptre, SK, CAN
|Pro Career||1948 – 1962|
|Hall of Fame, 1985|
Murray Albert "Bert" Olmstead (born September 4, 1926, died November 16, 2015) is a retired Canadian professional left winger who played for the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Black Hawks and Toronto Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League (NHL). Olmstead began his career with the Black Hawks in 1949. In December 1950, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens via Detroit. Olmstead had his best statistical years playing for Montreal, leading the league in assists in 1954–55 with 48, and setting a league record for assists with 56 the following season. Olmstead was claimed in an Intra-League Draft by Toronto Maple Leafs in 1958, and played there until his retirement in 1962. In the 1967–68 season, Olmstead served as coach of the expansion Oakland Seals. Olmstead played in the Stanley Cup final in 11 of his 14 seasons in the NHL, winning it five times. He won it four times with Montreal, in 1953, and from 1956 to 1958, and once with Toronto, in 1962, which was his last season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
Early Life[edit | edit source]
Olmstead was born in Sceptre, Saskatchewan, a small village with a population less than 200, in southwestern Saskatchewan. In 1944, at the age of 18, he moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to play junior hockey. In his first year, Olmstead and the Moose Jaw Canucks challenged for the Memorial Cup, after finishing the playoffs with a 15–1 record. They were unsuccessful in the 1944-45 Memorial Cup Final against the St. Michaels College Majors. Olmstead had 10 goals and eight assists in the 17 playoff games he played. He played another season in Moose Jaw, before being assigned to the Kansas City Pla-Mors of the United States Hockey League (USHL) by the Montreal Canadiens.
Playing Career[edit | edit source]
Chicago Black Hawks[edit | edit source]
Olmstead played three full seasons for Kansas City, and a part of another, later in 1950, for the Milwaukee Sea Gulls. In the 1946–47 season, Olmstead joined the Pla-Mors, finishing the season with 42 points in 60 games. In 1948–49, the Canadiens, who had originally sponsored him and owned his rights, traded him to the Chicago Black Hawks. The same season, Olmstead made his NHL debut, called after scoring 33 goals and 44 assists, for 77 points, in 52 games, playing nine games for the Black Hawks, and collecting two assists. Olmstead played the entire following season for the Black Hawks, appearing in 70 games, and scoring 20 goals.
Olmstead split the 1950–51 season between four teams, playing for all but one of them. He began the season playing for the Black Hawks franchise, playing 15 games in the NHL and 12 in the USHL, for the Milwaukee Sea Gulls. On December 2, 1950, Olmstead, with Vic Stasiuk, was traded to the Detroit Red Wings, in exchange for Lee Fogolin and Steve Black. On December 19, 1950, 17 days after the trade to Detroit, he was traded again, without ever suiting up for the Red Wings, to Montreal, for Leo Gravelle. Olmstead would never leave the NHL until his retirement in 1962, playing 39 games that season on a line with Maurice Richard and Elmer Lach, scoring 38 points. Olmstead also appeared in 11 playoff games, collecting six points, as the Canadiens lost the best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals to the Toronto Maple Leafs in five games.
Montreal Canadiens[edit | edit source]
Olmstead and the Canadiens appeared in the Stanley Cup finals again in the 1951–52 season, losing to the Detroit Red Wings; after recording 35 points in 69 regular season games, Olmstead was limited to an assist in 11 playoff games. In his third season with the Canadiens, Olmstead and the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup for the first time. Earning 45 points in 69 games, he was named to the Second All-Star Team. On the last game of the season, Olmstead bodychecked Gordie Howe, stopping him from tying Maurice Richard's record of 50 goals in a season. Olmstead played all the 70 games in the next two seasons, scoring 52 and 58 points in the 1953–54 and 1954–55 seasons, respectively. The Canadiens lost to the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals in both seasons. In the 1954–55 season, Olmstead led the league in assists, with 48.
The 1955–56 season saw the start of Montreal's five consecutive Stanley Cup championships. In that season, Olmstead played on a line with Jean Beliveau and Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion. He set a record for assists, with 56, and also scored eight points in a game, recording four goals and four assists, tying Rocket Richard's record. This record would be broken in 1976 by Darryl Sittler, who scored six goals and four assists, for ten points. As well as winning the Stanley Cup, Olmstead was again named to the Second All-Star Team.
Olmstead won two more Stanley Cups in the 1956–57 and 1957–58 seasons. After the conclusion of the 1957–58 seasons, doctors informed him that he had no strength left in his knees, and that he should contemplate retirement. As a result of this prognosis, the Canadiens left Olmstead unprotected in the Intra-League Draft, and he was claimed by Billy Reay, the head coach of the Canadiens' chief rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto Maple Leafs[edit | edit source]
Early in the 1958–59 season, Punch Imlach, the assistant general manager of the Leafs, fired Reay, installed himself as head coach, and appointed Olmstead as the playing assistant coach. This meant that while Imlach coached the team during games, Olmstead was in charge of the practices; however, Olmstead only last three months as assistant coach, resigning to devote more time to improving his play. The same season, the Leafs went on a long winning streak in order to qualify for the playoffs, but they lost to the Canadiens in the finals. After losing in the Finals the next season, and falling short of the Finals the next season, the Olmstead won his fifth and final Stanley Cup in 1962, missing two months of the season with a broken shoulder, and being limited to only four out of the 12 playoff games.
Retirement[edit | edit source]
After his fifth Stanley Cup win, with Toronto, the New York Rangers claimed Olmstead in the Intra-League Draft on June 4, 1962. This came as a surprise to Olmstead, who refused to report to the team. The Canadiens offered to acquire him from the Rangers, within a month; Olmstead demanded an immediate trade. Since no deal came, he retired at the age of 35. During his 14-year NHL career, Olmstead scored 181 goals and 421 assists, for 602 points; in the playoffs, he collected 59 points, in 115 games. In his 14 seasons, Olmstead appeared in the Stanley Cup final 11 times. He won five times, four of them with the Montreal Canadiens, and once with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After retiring from playing, Olmstead attempted coaching. In the 1965–66 season, Olmstead coached the Vancouver Canucks, of the WHL; he finished with a 33–35–4 record, for a .486 winning percentage. In the 1967–68 season, Olmstead coached the expansion Oakland Seals, in the NHL. Olmstead did not last the full season, stepping aside after 64 games, having only won 11 games, with a .297 winning percentage.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
Known as "Dirty Bertie" because of physical playing style, Olmstead was a power forward, making hard hits and winning in battles in the corners. He was not a very good skater, and thus he had to compromise with his bodychecking. Olmstead was not regularly involved in fights, but in the ones he participated, the majority were started with his hits.
Olmstead was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985. Olmstead, with his wife Nora, visited the town of Okotoks on August 13, 2005, with the Stanley Cup. He had previously declined to spend a day with it, believing that it was being given to much older winners only because of the lockout. Olmstead also noted, at the end of the day, that he was happy to have the Stanley Cup again.
Upon his passing the NHL released the following statement: "The National Hockey League family mourns the passing of Bert Olmstead -- a fierce competitor and a five-time champion who played in the Stanley Cup Final 11 times in his 14-season career with Chicago, Montreal and Toronto," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Bert's passion for the game earned unwavering respect from his teammates; his knowledge of the game once earned him a role as a playing assistant coach; and his skill led to what was then an NHL single-season record for assists: 56 in 1955-56. We send heartfelt condolences and comfort to Bert's family and friends."
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Video[edit | edit source]
Two minutes of video from the October 18, 1958 Toronto-Boston game showing Leo Boivin hitting the post and then a scrap between Bronco Horvath and Bert Olmstead who later sit in the penalty box together.
External Links[edit | edit source]
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