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One of the common threads of Small Town Hockey Heroes seems to be that many brief NHL players were the victims of circumstance. Some were put on a bad team that never gave them a chance, others were born too late or too early.
Some had immediate success only to have it ripped away from them too soon, as was the case with Johnny Quilty.
Johnny Quilty was born in Ottawa, Ontario on Jan. 21, 1921 to Silver Quilty, the future president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association and a Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee. Quilty grew up as a fan of the Ottawa Senators and would often watch the team play at home.
A lover of athletics and sports, he was also the light-heavyweight boxing champion of the Ottawa Valley in 1939.
He would eventually make his way to the Ottawa St. Pats of the Ottawa City Hockey League before turning pro with the Montreal Canadiens when they signed him on Oct. 29, 1940 to play the 1940-41 season with them.
He would have an immediate impact on the team, earning 34 points in 48 games and winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the top rookie in the league. This made him the first member of the Canadiens to win the Calder Trophy. To date, he is one of only four Canadiens to win the Calder Trophy. In his second season with the team, he had 24 points in 48 games.
He would play two brief seasons with the Canadiens before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force and playing for RCAF teams in Toronto and Vancouver.
In 1946-47, he returned to the Canadiens but the team had passed him by at this point. He played only three games for the team that year, earning two points, before moving down to the American Hockey League and playing for the Springfield Indians and Buffalo Bisons. In the AHL, he had 34 points in 51 games.
In 1947-48, he had six points in 16 games before he was traded to the Boston Bruins and would suffer a compound fracture in his leg only six games into playing fo this new team courtesy of a hit from Bob Goldham. His season ended with the Bruins having four points in ten games. That would be the end of his NHL career. During his time in the NHL, he would have 70 points in 125 games, and eight points in 13 playoff games.
He still stayed in the game for what he could, playing senior hockey for the North Sydney Victorias earning 20 points in 31 games, and then joining the Ottawa RCAF Flyers in 1949-50 for two seasons. He would then join the Ottawa Senators in the Quebec Senior Hockey League and remain with the team until 1951-52 when he signed with the Renfrew Millionaires of the East Coast Senior Hockey League, picking up an MVP award before retiring.
Quilty had suffered with alcoholism for much of his adult life but he would eventually work for Alcoholics Anonymous and help others kick the habit.
Quilty died in his home on Sept. 12, 1969 at the young age of 48. He was later inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Information for this piece comes from Wikipedia, HabsLegends, Newspapers.com, HockeyDB