Gus Bodnar

When a rookie plays in his first game, he wants to try and do something to get himself noticed by the coach. Good hustle, smart defensive play or a big hit would all do the trick. But it would be hard to top what Gus Bodnar did in his first NHL game. On October 30, 1943 the rookie Toronto Maple Leafs center scored just 15 seconds into his first NHL game. That feat is a long standing record for the faster goal by a player in his first NHL game!

Bodnar's fast goal not only lifted his confidence, but also that of his coach's. Bodnar would go on to enjoy a spectacular first year, scoring 22 goals and 40 assists for 62 points in 50 games while capturing the Calder Trophy as the league's best newcomer.

Bodnar, who was fantastic playmaker from Fort William, Ontario, would play parts of 4 season with the Leafs, but his play would slip dramatically towards the end of his Toronto tenure. His second season he scored 44 points in 49 games, but only 8 goals. By his 4th season he spent some time in the minors. He started the 1947-48 season in the minors before being involved in one of the league's biggest trades of all time. Toronto packaged Bodnar, Gaye Stewart, Bud Poile, Ernie Dickens and Bob Goldham to Chicago for Max Bentley and Cy Thomas.

While Bentley would sparkle in Toronto and lead the Buds to 3 Stanley Cups, the Blackhawks would go into a tailspin that saw them finish near the bottom for a number of years. Bodnar was a solid center for them for almost 7 full seasons however. He would often be linemates with fellow former Leafs Stewart and Poile on the "Flying-Forts" line as all three were from the Fort William.

Bodnar's highlight of his Chicago tenure came on March 13, 1953. That night is a very well remembered in hockey circles as it is the night that Chicago's Bill Mosienko scored the fastest hat trick in history - 3 goals in just 21 seconds!. While that record is seemingly unbeatable, Gus Bodnar also set an improbable record that night as well - the fastest 3 assists in NHL history - also in 21 seconds. Bodnar set up Mosienko for all three of his well celebrated goals that night.

Bodnar was traded to Boston late in the 1954 in exchange for Jerry Topazzini. Bodnar would play one final season in Boston before retiring to become a long time junior coach.


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