Hank Ciesla

From 1955 through 1959, Ciesla toiled with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. A big man who Chicago had hoped would develop into a first class banger, Ciesla was more of a skater and scorer who was not overly interested in the physical game. As a result he was traded to New York. His stay in New York was short as he had a falling out with coach Phil Watson. The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Ciesla after the fallout, and he initially reported to their farm team in order to get back in shape. However Ciesla got injured and Pat Hannigan got called up instead of him. Ciesla never played in the NHL again, spending the next 6 years bouncing around the AHL.

In the minors Ciesla rediscovered his scoring prowess he demonstrated in junior. In his last year of junior (1954-55) he scored 47 goals in 45 junior games. In the NHL he only scored 26 goals in 269 NHL games, but then became a steady 25+ goal threat in the minors until his last year or two. In 1962-63 he led the entire AHL with 42 goals.

After his hockey days were over with, Hank returned to St. Catherines, his hometown and home of his junior hockey glory days. He helped the St. Catherines TeePees with the Memorial Cup in 1954, after all.

Ciesla was focused on other things than hockey upon his return to Ontario city. He co-owned a Massey-Ferguson dealership, but he soon fell ill and was eventually diagnosed with stomach cancer. He died at age 39 in 1976, leaving behind a wife and daughter.


Graham Clayton 4:11 AM  

Ciesla's claim to fame is that he scored the first power-play goal in the NHL after the rule change which allowed the penalised player to come back on the ice after a goal had been scored. The goal came in the Black Hawks' 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on the 11th of October, 1956.

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