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Born on Nov. 22, 1902 in Valleyfield, Quebec, would begin his hockey career with the Valleyfield Braves in 1920-21 before moving on to the University of Montreal for the following season. By 1924-25, he was in the Montreal Canadiens farm system, playing for the Montreal Nationale of the ECHL, recording nine points in 11 games.
Leduc would debut in the NHL in 1925 with the Montreal Canadiens, remaining for the next ten years in the league.
In his first season, 1925-26, he would pick up 13 points in 32 games. In that first season, he was brought in to replace Sprague Cleghorn, one of the most vicious players to ever play in the NHL and the reason that the Lady Byng Trophy exists today. Not shying away from the challenge, Leduc quickly established himself as a core part of the team’s defence.
Leduc became a fan favourite in the Montreal Forum thanks to his punishing body checks on opponents. He was able to do this despite being only five-foot-nine and 190 pounds.
He would suffer a severe drop in production in 1926-27, picking up only seven points in 43 games.
Rebounding slightly, he would play the next several seasons in Montreal. His best season would come in 1929-30 when he had 15 points in 44 games, along with 90 penalty minutes.
In 1930 and 1931, he would win the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens. In his first eight seasons with the Canadiens, he was known for his ability to withstand anything that came his way on the ice. He would miss only 15 games in total over the course of those seasons.
In his time with the Canadiens, he would help the team win the O’Brien Trophy as the NHL Canadian Division Champions four times in 1928, 1929, 1931 and 1932.
In 1933-34, he would play with the Ottawa Senators after the Canadiens sold his rights but retained the option to repurchase him. recording only four points in 35 games before being loaned to the New York Rangers, where he played seven games without any points.
In his last season in the NHL, he once again returned to Montreal, playing only four games, recording no points.
In his 384 NHL games, he finished with 58 goals, 35 assists and 93 points, along with 614 penalty minutes. His high penalty minute count played into his nickname of Battleship.
For the next three seasons, he would play in the minor leagues.
In 1934-35, he played for the Quebec Beavers, followed by two seasons with the Providence Reds, where he finished his playing career with 10 points in 37 games.
During those two seasons in Providence, he also coached the team, finishing with a winning record both seasons. In his first season with the team as a player-coach, he led the team to 21 wins, 20 losses and six ties and the team made the final in the playoffs before losing. In the next season, he replicated that exact total except he had one more tie, with the team losing in the first round of the playoffs. He would also be named to the league’s second all-star team in 1935-36.
In 1937, he retired as a player and coached the Verdun Maple Leafs of the Quebec City Hockey League for one season.
Following the end of his hockey career, he would start a hockey stick manufacturing company. By the 1950s, the Battleship brand made out of his hometown of Valleyfield was the stick of choice of thousands of hockey players across Canada and into the United States.
While he has not played for the Canadiens since the 1930s, he still ranks 39th on the team among defenseman for total points with 89. In a list of the Greatest Canadiens of all-time, Leduc ranked 74th, ahead of players such as Mark Recchi, Jose Theadore, Joe Malone and Pierre Turgenev.
Leduc would pass away on July 31, 1990.
In describing Leduc, legendary coach Frankie Selke would say the following.
“Battleship had a highly excitable temperament. On the ice, he made all his moves at top speed. He could score on his long end-to-end rushes, but more than all else, he handed out a body check which, in his day, was the most important attribute of any defence man.”
Information for this piece comes from Wikipedia, Hockey DB, Our History, the Hockey Hall of Fame, Hockey Gods, The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory.
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