The Montreal Canadiens mourn the loss of Bert Olmstead
/ Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL - The Canadiens organization was deeply saddened by the passing of former Canadiens forward and Hall of Famer Bert Olmstead this past Monday. The five-time Stanley Cup champion was 89 years old.
Born on September 4, 1926 in Sceptre, a small village of southern Saskatchewan with a population of less than 200 inhabitants, Bert Olmstead began his NHL career in 1948-49 at age 22. In his first full season in the league, in 1950-51, he racks up 49 points, including 20 goals, in the Chicago Black Hawks uniform and is the runner-up in the voting for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year, behind the Bruins’ netminder Jack Gelineau. Despite his success on the ice, he is traded to Detroit on December 2, 1950 and before taking it to the ice with the Red Wings for a single game, he is sent to the Montreal Canadiens on December 19 (for Léo Gravelle) where he will enjoy his best years in the NHL.
For much of his time in Montreal he played on the top line. Initially this meant playing with Elmer Lach and Maurice Richard following the retirement of Toe Blake and gathering an increasing number points, to top a career high 70 points in 1955-56. A gifted playmaker, Olmstead would lead the NHL in assists for two straight seasons, 1954-55 and 1955-56 amassing respectively 48 and 56 helpers. The left winger had his share of hilite-reel moments enjoying an eight-point night on January 9, 1954, when he had four goals and four assists in a 12-1 win equalling a record set by Maurice Richard in 1944. He would once again write his name in the record book on November 5, 1955 when he assisted in Jean Béliveau’s three goals in a span of 44 seconds to set an NHL record for the fastest three assists in a game.
After etching his name on the Holy Grail four times as a member of the Montreal Canadiens (1953, 1956, 1957 and 1958), he is claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs where he will win his fifth and final Stanley Cup before hanging up his skates. Olmstead played in the Stanley Cup final in 11 of his 14 seasons in the NHL. He skated in 848 regular season contests recording 602 points, including 421 assists. His most productive years came in a Canadiens’ jersey racking up 383 points in 508 games, including 103 goals. A strong checking forward, he was particularly effective in hard-fought playoff games amassing 59 points in 115 match-ups. With the Canadiens his playoff harvest reached 42 points in 86 games.
Twice voted to NHL All Star teams (1953 and 1956), Bert Olmstead was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.