Tony Joseph Leswick (March 17, 1923, in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada – July 1, 2001, in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada) was a former forward who played mostly for the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings of the NHL. Nicknamed "Tough Tony" and "Mighty Mouse", he was known also as a little pest. Little, because he stood just 5'7" tall and weighed 160 lbs. He is most famous for scoring the final goal in overtime of game seven of the 1954 Stanley Cup final.
Minor league hockeyEdit
Leswick played his junior hockey in Saskatoon with the (junior) Dodgers and the (senior and junior) Quakers, and quickly started turning heads. In 1942, Leswick jumped into the AHL with the Cleveland Barons and scored 40 points in only 52 games. He split the following season between the PCHL's New Westminster Royals and the Saskatchewan senior League's Saskatoon Navy. Scoring 36 points in 19 games with the Royals and 52 points in 18 games with Navy, he followed up his great season by joining Winnipeg HMCS Chippewa (Navy), where he helped to win the 1944–1945 Basil Baker trophy for inter-service hockey in the 1944-45 Manitoba Senior Playoffs. The New York Rangers (who acquired his rights in June 1945) had seen enough and brought him into their lineup for the 1945–46 season.
Leswick delivered. He scored 15 goals in his rookie season for the Rangers and quickly established himself as one of the few bright spots in New York. He loved getting under peoples skin, including that of Montreal Canadiens' Rocket Richard, and Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings. Leswick recorded consecutive 20-goal seasons in 1947 and 1948, but the Rangers continued to miss the playoffs or get knocked out in the early rounds. After scoring 44 points in 1949–50, he was named to the NHL second all-star team. During this time, he formed a successful combination with Edgar Laprade and Dunc Fisher.
Detroit had seen the way that Leswick would go after Howe and knew that took guts. They decided to trade for Leswick after the 1950–51 season. On June 8, Tony Leswick became a Detroit Red Wing after a blockbuster trade that saw Gaye Stewart going to New York. Leswick would continue his pestering ways and was inserted on a line with Marty Pavelich and Glen Skov. He would help lead Detroit to Stanley Cups in 1952, 1954, and 1955. He is probably most remembered for his winning goal in game seven of the 1954 Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens.
Following his third Stanley Cup victory in 1955, Leswick was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks along with Glen Skov, Johnny Wilson and Benny Woit for Jerry Toppazzini, John McCormack, Dave Creighton and Gord Hollingworth, on May 27. He would score 11 goals and 11 assists in the 1955–56 season for Chicago before going to the WHL. The Edmonton Flyers welcomed his 53 points in the 1956–57 season and he was invited to another All-Star team. After a brief 22 games for Detroit in 1957, Leswick would again join the Edmonton Flyers until the close of the 1959 season. He would play 9 games the following season for the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL before retiring from playing hockey.
Leswick the coachEdit
Leswick tried his hand at coaching starting in 1958. He replaced the current coach of the Edmonton Flyers midseason in 1957–58 and would continue until midseason of 1958–59. He felt he was more of a help to the team on the ice. He would try his hand at coaching one more time with the Indianapolis Capitols/Cincinnati Wings of the Central Hockey League in the 1963–64 season. They would finish last in the league with a 12–53–7 record and Leswick would retire from the world of hockey.
Awards & achievementsEdit
- Played in NHL All-Star Game (1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1954)
- NHL Second All-Star Team (1950)
- Stanley Cup Champions (1952, 1954, 1955)
- WHL Prairie Division Second All-Star Team (1957)
- His nephew is former Major League Baseball player Lenny Dykstra.
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