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Former playoff hero Lund dies at 87

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Pentti Lund, the fourth Rangers player to win the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year and a hero of the Blueshirts' run to Game 7 of the 1950 Stanley Cup Finals, passed away on Tuesday in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He was 87 years old.

In addition to his five seasons in the NHL in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Lund was a popular sports writer in Thunder Bay and was recognized for his career as both a player and writer when he was inducted to the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.

Pentti Lund, shown during the Rangers' celebration after eliminating Montreal in the 1950 playoffs, was a major reason for the team's Cinderella success that year.

Born on Dec. 6, 1925, in Karijoki, Finland, Lund became the first Finnish native to play for the Rangers after he joined the team on June 1, 1948 -- completing an earlier trade with the Boston Bruins.

Although he spent his earliest years in Finland, Lund came to Canada with family members as a 6-year-old and made his new home in the town Port Arthur, Ontario, which is now a section of Thunder Bay. At age 10 in Port Arthur, Lund was first exposed to hockey and established himself as one of the area's top junior players.

His arrival in the NHL was delayed for at least two years, as Lund served in World War II as a member of the Royal Canadian Navy. After the war, Lund entered the Bruins organization for the 1945-46 season. He would go on to play 259 NHL regular-season games (182 as a Ranger) and 19 postseason games (12 as a Ranger).

Lund came to the Rangers as part of a "future considerations" provision in a wider Feb. 6 deal for Billy Taylor, but it was the young right wing who ended up being the trade's true prize when he went on to with the 1948-49 Calder Trophy with 14 goals and 30 points in 59 games.

He had appeared in three playoff games with the Bruins in 1947 and 1948, but Lund made his NHL regular-season debut as a Blueshirt on Oct. 14, 1948, at Montreal. Wearing No. 9 -- a number that would later be retired in honor of Andy Bathgate and Adam Graves -- he quickly emerged as a fan favorite with his outstanding play as a 23-year-old rookie.

In the 1950 playoffs, Lund forever endeared himself to The Garden fans by leading the team on an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals against Detroit. Lund was the team's leading scorer with six goals and 11 points in 12 games, including a hat trick in Game 3 of the semifinal upset of Montreal. With a goal in each period of that game, Lund became only the third player in team history to record a postseason hat trick, following in the footsteps of Hall of Famers Frank Boucher and Bryan Hextall.

During the run all the way to a heart-breaking double-overtime loss in Game 7 vs. Detroit, Lund played on a dynamic line with Don Raleigh, who passed away just last year, and the late Ed Slowinski. The trio combined for a remarkable 28 points in their 12 games together and was on the ice for back-to-back overtime wins in Games 4 and 5 of the series with Lund picking up an assist in the Game 5 winner.

Lund spent one more season with the Blueshirts in 1950-51 but suffered a serious eye injury that year. He eventually left the team as part of an off-season trade with the Bruins. Earlier that summer, the Rangers had dealt him to the AHL's Cleveland Barons for the 1951-52 season, but retained his NHL rights. Lund went on to play two more seasons with the Bruins, but his vision was limited, and he eventually retired in the mid-1950s to run a restaurant and work in sales.

In 1962, Lund took on a new job as a sports writer and photographer for the Fort William (Ontario) Times-Journal. In this role, he became one of the province's most beloved writers, particularly for his ability to tell stories about the Original Six era.

Although he spent most of his life in Canada, Lund is a member of the Finnish Ice Hockey Hall of Fame because of his ties to that country and his pioneering role in Finland's NHL history.

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