, a member of the 1940 Stanley Cup championship team who spent six seasons as a player and two seasons as head coach of the Rangers, died last Sunday in Calgary at age 91.
|Alf Pike coached the Rangers during the Original Six era. |
Pike, who also coached the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters to the 1952 Memorial Cup championship while working in the Rangers’ organization, was one of two surviving members of the 1939-40 Rangers, the last Blueshirts team to win the Stanley Cup prior to 1994. Pike’s passing leaves Clint Smith, 95, as the only living member of the 1940 team who spent the entire season with the club. Smith is also the oldest living Rangers Alumnus.
Pike, a forward, was an extremely popular member of the Rangers who joined the organization as a 19-year-old junior player in 1937. He had first come to the attention of Lester Patrick while attending the team’s annual training school in Winnipeg.
He first came to New York as a member of the Eastern Amateur Hockey League’s Rovers -- a Rangers farm club -- and made his NHL debut with the Blueshirts on Nov. 5, 1939 against the Red Wings in Detroit. He played all of 234 career NHL games with the Rangers between 1939 and 1947 before returning to his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, to pursue a coaching career.
A rookie on the 1939-40 team, Pike had eight goals and nine assists for the Blueshirts during the regular season and added three goals and one assist in the 12 playoff games.
“I’ll never forget that year,” Pike was later quoted as saying. “In the opener of the Cup Finals against Toronto, I accidentally kicked in Toronto’s tying goal and then scored the winner in 15:30 of sudden death.”
For his career, Pike had 42 goals, 77 assists and 119 points to go with 145 penalty minutes. In the post season, he had four goals and two assists in 21 career playoff games.
Returning to the Rangers organization as coach of the Guelph junior team in the early 1950s, Pike assembled the legendary Memorial Cup-winning squad that included future Blueshirts legends Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell. These two former Pike players have their numbers retired at MSG, just one week before Pike’s passing.
“Alf was a super coach,” Howell told the Guelph Mercury newspaper in its article on Pike’s passing earlier this week. “… The team really had the attitude we weren’t going to lose to anyone.”
Howell recalled for the Guelph newspaper how Pike taped Howell’s gloves to his stick so that he would develop the habit of holding the stick with two hands instead of one.
After seven years in Guelph, Pike was promoted to coach the Blueshirts during the 1959-60 season, replacing former teammate Phil Watson. Pike remained the team’s head coach through the 1960-61 season.
Nicknamed “The Embalmer” because he had worked at a funeral home during the off-seasons, Pike’s NHL career was interrupted by World War II, which caused him to miss the 1943-44 and 1944-45 seasons while he served in the Canadian military.