Tuesday

Killer Kaleta

According to some, the term hat trick originates with Alex "Killer" Kaleta in the 1946-47 season.

The myth goes like this: The term "hat trick" was allegedly coined when a Toronto haberdasher named Sammy Taft told Blackhawk Alex Kaleta that he would give him the hat that he had been eyeing if Alex would score 3 goals in that night's game. Kaleta did, and the term has been used ever since.

That is just one of a few such stories regarding the origin of the word hat trick. But it certainly made Alex Kaleta famous.

Canmore, Alberta's Alex Kaleta, the son of a coal miner, was described as a magnificent playmaking left winger. I like to include player's strengths and weaknesses and tendencies, but memories of Kaleta have been tough to find.

Except for this one little tidbit that certainly made me laugh. Although his penalty minute totals suggest otherwise, with a nickname like Killer you'd expect him to be a pretty tough customer. He may very well have been, but maybe not as tough as his wife as Wild Bill Eznicki found out one night.

"During the 1948-49 season, the Rangers' Alex Kaleta picked a fight with bigger, meaner Bill Ezinicki of Toronto. Though Ezinicki won the fight, he not only wound up in the penalty box with a five-minute major, but also, as Emile Francis recalls, "Kaleta's wife comes out of the stands, down to Ezinicki in the penalty box, and hits him with her purse.""

Kaleta had another nickname - Seabiscuit. It is said Kaleta earned the moniker for his speed and tenacity on the ice. 

Kaleta turned pro in 1941 after 3 seasons starring in the Alberta senior leagues. He had an impressive rookie season, but would return to Alberta a year later. Not as a demotion, but for war duty. He spent three more years in Calgary working with the army there, while also playing for the Army hockey team.

Upon his discharge from the army he returned to Chicago to play three more seasons, enjoying his best years playing on a line with Snuffy Smith and Red Hamill. He would also spend two more years with the New York Rangers before settling in Saskatoon to play and later coach with the WHL's Quakers.

Kaleta would late coach in Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat before taking a job as recreation director and arena manager in "the Hat." He retired from that job in 1984, dying three years later.

3 comments:

Anonymous,  7:00 PM  

I think that when you mention "Kaleta's wife" you may be talking about my great Aunt Anna. I never met her, but from what I understand she met Alex Kaleta when he played for the Blackhawks and married him and moved to Canada.

Ashor DeKelaita 8:39 AM  

Hi "Anonymous" - Was Alex of Assyrian origin? Was Anna? I am trying to see if there's any relation to me :)

My last name is DeKelaita or "Kaleta" in the native tongue.

Unknown 3:56 PM  

Kaletta is actually, originally, of German, Prussian, and Hungarian heritage. Why I am not surprised if it were similar to Assyrian heritage. Trier, Germany, the oldest city in all of Germany was conquered by Assyrians. It still has old armor, and things belonging to the Assyrian peoples, and a famous plaque at the entrance of the city stating "The Assyrians were here before the Romans". people are more closely related then you think.

Sincerely,

Martin M. B
A German

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