Blake, Hector

Hector Blake, "Toe," hockey player and coach (b at Victoria Mines, NS 21 Aug 1912; d at Montréal 17 May 1995). He joined MONTREAL CANADIENS in 1936 and won the HART TROPHY (most valuable player) and scoring championship 1938-39. Later he played left wing on the effective "Punch Line" with Maurice RICHARD and Elmer Lach. He broke an ankle in 1948 and retired. He was a tenacious, productive player, with 235 regular season goals and 62 points in 57 playoff games. Part French Canadian, he coached in Valleyfield, Qué (now Salaberry-de-Valleyfield), before taking over the Canadiens in 1955.

He inherited perhaps the most talented team in history, but he encouraged them to work as a team, and achieved unprecedented results. In his 13 seasons, Blake compiled the most successful coaching record in the history of the NHL. In that period, Montréal finished first 9 times and won the STANLEY CUP 8 times, including 5 straight 1956-60. He was an emotional coach, often abrasive and boisterous, and coaching strained him. He retired in 1968 and was appointed a VP of the team. Blake was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 and was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982. He died at age 82 after suffering for several years from Alzheimer's disease.