Bert Olmstead

During his playing days Bert Olmstead had a reputation of being a ferocious, antagonistic checker. Today he would classified as a top power forward. "Dirty Bertie" wasn't a natural, and because of that he had to work harder than most players. He wasn't the most fluid skater around but he made up his lack of talent by an enormous will to win. He even got upset during exhibition games if there was a lack of commitment from his teammates.

Olmstead was a Saskatchewan product who played his hockey for the Moose Jaw Canucks in the SJHL. He turned professional with Kansas City in the old United States Hockey League (USHL) in the fall of 1946. Kansas City was a farm team to Chicago at that time. When Bert scored 33 goals and 77 points in only 52 games for Kansas in 1948-49, he got a a call up to Chicago and played 9 games. Still an NHL rookie in 1949-50, he was put together on a line with Metro Prystai and Bep Guidolin. They were dubbed the "Boilermaker Line" and scored a total of 153 points (66 goals and 85 points) during the season. Olmstead himself got 49 of those points. He also scored 20 goals which was a career high for him during his 15 year NHL career.

The future seemed bright for the trio, but the line was broken up when Prystai went to Detroit. Olmstead also got traded to Detroit in the middle of the 1950-51 season. Before he even had played a single game for Detroit he was shipped to Montreal. There he was immediately put on a line together with the great Maurice Richard and Elmer Lach. Talk about pressure! Olmstead was replacing the great Toe Blake on the famed Punch Line.

In his first 11 games on the line Bert scored 12 points (3 goals and 9 assists), while Richard scored 14 goals in the same period. Bert scored a total of 38 points in 39 games with Montreal that season.

Olmstead slumped badly the next season and allegedly was put on the trading block again. He was offered back to Chicago for Gus Bodnar, but the Hawks rejected the deal and Bert got another chance during Montreal's training camp in 1952.

Bert clicked again and was from that point on a reliable left wing on the Montreal squad for years. He would often play on a line with Jean Beliveau and Boom Boom Geoffrion, both of whom heaped tons of praise on their left winger. He was a 2nd team All-Star left winger in 1953 and 19 56. He also led the league in assists both in 1955 and 19 56. Bert had a career high 70 points in 1955-56 and was an important part of four Cup winning seasons in Montreal.

Hall of Fame defenseman Ken Reardon once said of Bert: "He's the best mucker in the league. By mucker I mean that he's the best man in the corners. He goes in there and digs the puck out for you."

Bert's time in Montreal was over when Toronto claimed him in the 1958 Intra-league draft. Olmstead, who by that time was battling bad knees, was said to be quite distraught about how he was let go by Montreal. But Bert's career would be rejuvenated with four solid seasons with Toronto which was crowned by a Cup win during his final NHL season in 1961-62.

The New York Rangers actually claimed Olmstead in the intra-league draft, but Olmstead refused to report. Montreal stepped in and promised to trade for him if he would return to the Habs. He agreed, but the trade never materialized.

Bert Olmstead won a total of five Cups and could always be counted on to work hard shift after shift. Bert was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985, having scored 181 goals and 421 assists for 602 points in 848 regular season games. He added another 59 points in 115 playoff contests.


Anonymous,  9:40 PM  

he is a wonderful man

Anonymous,  11:58 AM  

he was the best i have ever seen to come out with the puck and more important make a good pass wherever he was on the ice.

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