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Remembering those NHL family members lost in 2012

by John Kreiser

The end of the year offers the chance to reflect on the previous 12 months.

For all of the tremendous accomplishments that took place this past year, 2012 was also defined by those we lost -- including a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers.

Here's a look at some of those in the hockey world who left us during the past year:

Emile "Butch" Bouchard

April 14, 2012 (Age 92)

Bouchard spent all of his 15 NHL seasons with Montreal, served as captain for eight years and played on four Cup winners -- he wore the "C" with the 1953 and '56 championship teams. Bouchard played in six All-Star Games and was a First-Team All-Star for three consecutive seasons in the 1940s. At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Bouchard was one of the most physically imposing players of his era -- he built his physique as a teenager by lifting steel plates attached to railroad ties. Bouchard had 49 goals and 144 assists in 785 regular-season games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. His son, Pierre Bouchard, played for five Cup-winners with the Canadiens in the 1970s.

Fernie Flaman

June 22, 2012 (Age 85)

Flaman was one of the NHL's toughest defensemen during a 17-year career that included two stints in Boston sandwiched around four seasons in Toronto, and his hard-nosed play earned him a berth in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990. He scored only 34 goals and had just 208 points in 910 regular-season games, but was a five-time Second-Team All-Star and helped the Leafs to the Stanley Cup in 1951. He later became a successful coach at Northeastern University, leading the Huskies to the only four Beanpot titles in school history.

Ron Caron

Jan. 9, 2012 (Age 82)

Caron served as general manager of the St. Louis Blues from 1983-93 and again in 1996, leading the team to a 438-405-127 record. The Blues made the playoffs in each of Caron's 12 seasons as GM and reached the Western Conference final in 1986, when they lost to the Calgary Flames -- they haven't gotten as far in the postseason since. Under Caron, St. Louis went 47-22-11 in 1990-91. The 105-point total was the third-best season in club history.

Budd Lynch

Oct. 9, 2012 (Age 95)

Lynch's voice was synonymous with the Detroit Red Wings for the millions of fans who heard him at Joe Louis Arena, where he served as the team's public address announcer from 1985 through 2011-12. Lynch joined the Wings as their TV play-by-play man in 1949 and called four Stanley Cups, and was behind the mic at the Joe for the Wings' Cup triumphs in 1997, '98, 2002 and 2008. In 1985, he was honored by the NHL Broadcasters Association with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bill Ezinicki

Oct. 11, 2012 (Age 88)

Known as "Wild Bill" on the ice for his crunching checks, Ezinicki played for Toronto on three consecutive Stanley Cup-winning teams in the late 1940s. After dropping to 10 goals and 22 points for the Leafs in 1949-50, Ezinicki joined the Boston Bruins for two seasons. His final NHL action came when he played 16 games for the New York Rangers in 1954-55. He finished his career with 79 goals, 184 points and 713 penalty minutes in 368 games. Ezinicki then went on to a successful professional golfing career, winning two New England PGA titles (1956 and 1958). He was also the head pro at the International in Bolton, Mass.

Don Raleigh

Aug. 21, 2012 (Age 86)

Raleigh, a slick center who spent his entire NHL career with the New York Rangers, was nicknamed "Bones" because he was 6-foot-1 but only about 150 pounds. He joined the war-ravaged Rangers in 1943-44 as a 17-year-old, playing 17 games, then came back for good four years later. He was the first Ranger to score four goals in a game and the first player in NHL history to score overtime goals in consecutive games in the Stanley Cup Final -- he won Games 4 and 5 against Detroit in 1950, but the Rangers lost Games 6 and 7. Raleigh scored 101 goals and added 219 assists for 320 points in 535 NHL games, all with the Rangers.

Jerry Toppazzini

April 21, 2012 (Age 80)

Toppazzini was among the NHL's best checking forwards in the 1950s and early 1960s, though his skills were somewhat hidden because he spent most of his career with Boston during one of the Bruins' down phases. Toppazzini had 163 goals and 407 points in 783 regular-season games, with a career-best of 25 goals for Boston in 1957-58. He also holds the distinction of being the last position player to play goal in the NHL; on Oct. 16, 1960, he played the final half-minute against Chicago after Boston starter Don Simmons was injured.

Ron Stewart

March 22, 2012 (Age 79)

Stewart was a contemporary of Toppazzini, but had the good fortune to spend the first 13 years of his career with Toronto, where he was a part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams in the 1960s. He was a superb checker and penalty-killer who also managed to score 276 goals in 21 seasons with a half-dozen teams before finishing with the New York Islanders in 1973. He later coached the Rangers, for whom he had played twice, and the Los Angeles Kings.

Vladimir Krutov

June 6, 2012 (Age 52)

Krutov was a member of the Soviet Union's famed "KLM Line," one of the great forward units in hockey history, along with Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov. He won Olympic gold medals with the U.S.S.R. in 1984 and '88, was part of six World Championship teams and helped the Soviets win the 1981 Canada Cup. Krutov was among the first wave of Soviet players allowed to play in the NHL in the late 1980s, but lasted only one season with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring 11 goals in 61 games in 1988-89 before finishing his career in Europe. He was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2010.

Paul Cyr

May 12, 2012 (Age 48)

Buffalo took Cyr with the ninth pick in the 1982 NHL Draft after a 52-goal season with Victoria of the Western Hockey League, and he made his NHL debut the same year, scoring 15 goals in 36 games. Cyr spent the next five years with the Sabres, but never put up more than 22 goals or 55 points in a season before being traded to the New York Rangers during the 1987-88 season. After 1 1/2 injury-plagued seasons in New York, he signed with Hartford and played 87 games in two more seasons for the Whalers before retiring in 1992-93 with 101 goals and 241 points in 470 games.

Dave Hrechkosy

March 7, 2012 (Age 60)

"The Wrecker" broke into the NHL with a bang, scoring 29 goals as a rookie for the California Seals in 1974-75 and finishing second in the race for the Calder Trophy. He had nine goals in 38 games for the Seals in '75-76 before being traded to St. Louis and didn't play in the NHL after 1976-77. He finished his career with 42 goals and 66 points in 141 NHL games.

Norm Dussault

Aug. 28, 2012 (Age 86)

Dussault was French-Canadian, and though he was born in Springfield, Mass., he learned his hockey in Quebec and played his four NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. His best season came in 1949-50, when he scored 13 goals and had 37 points in 67 games. He finished his NHL career with 31 goals and 93 points in 206 games.

Ed Harrison

Feb. 10, 2012 (Age 84)

Harrison, a role player up front, broke into the NHL with the Boston Bruins in 1947-48 and had his best season two years later with 14 goals and 26 points in 70 games. But he was traded to the New York Rangers the following season and played his last NHL game in 1950-51, ending with 27 goals and 51 points in 194 games, though he spent another decade playing in the minors and in senior leagues.

Bill Kitchen

July 30, 2012 (Age 51)

The younger and lesser-known brother of former NHL defenseman and current Chicago assistant coach Mike Kitchen played 41 NHL games for Montreal and Toronto in the early 1980s, scoring a goal and adding four assists. He became a successful businessman after retiring in 1986 and was an active member of the NHL Alumni.

Tom Manastersky

March 11, 2012 (Age 83)

Though Manastersky was better known for his prowess as a football player -- he won a Grey Cup while playing for the hometown Montreal Alouettes -- he was a two-sport athlete who played six games for the Canadiens in 1950-51. The big defenseman didn't score but did have 11 penalty minutes.

Bob DeCourcy

March 25, 2012 (Age 84)

The Toronto-born goaltender turned pro with the New York Rovers of the old Eastern League and played one NHL game, allowing six goals in 29 minutes for the Rangers against Boston in relief of injured starter Chuck Rayner on Nov. 12, 1947.

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