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02-20-2011, 05:28 PM
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Babe Pratt, D (/LW?)

Originally Posted by legendsofhockey
Walter "Babe" Pratt was a funny and outgoing man off the ice, keen on jokes and always good for a laugh, but he was considerably tougher with his hockey equipment on. Over a long career in leagues across North America, he proved consistently that the best defense is often a good offense. He was a defenseman who kept the puck deep in the other team's zone, sometimes deep in their net, and goalies on his squads could be sure their goals-against averages would drop when he was at his best. His leadership and ability are backed up by his remarkable winning record, from the National Hockey League to junior, as his teams won 15 championships over his 26 years in the game.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Walter Pratt was one of the best defensemen of his time and, for that matter, any era. He was an offensive blueliner before anyone had ever heard of Bobby Orr or Paul Coffey. He could rush the puck and score like defensemen of a more modern era.

At 6'3" and 215lbs, Pratt was a giant back in the 1940s. Likewise, he had a certain flair about him that made him larger than life - much like that of an athlete of a different sport in Babe Ruth. Thus, Pratt was eternally also known as the Babe.
NHL Trophies and Awards:
* Stanley Cup championship (1940 and 1945)
* NHL First All-Star Team Defence (1944)
* Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1944)
* NHL Second All-Star Team Defence (1945)

NHL Stats:
* 7th in NHL assists in 1943-44 (war year)
* 7th in NHL assists per game in 45-56 (war recovery year), after missing 9 games due to gambling scandal
* 5 times Top 10 in PIMs
* Points among defensemen: 7th (1937), 5th (1938), 4th (1939), 7th (1940), 6th (1941), 3rd (1942), 2nd (1943), 1st (1944), 1st (1945), 2nd (1946)
(These might be off by a spot or two in the pre-WW2 years as several players were multi-position)

Halls of Fame:
* Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966
* Inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1990
* Selected to Manitoba's All-Century First All-Star Team
* “Honoured Member” of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame

* MJHL Scoring Champion (1934 and 1935)
* Turnbull Cup MJHL Championship (1934)
* Twice MVP of the PCHL towards the end of his career

* In 1998, he was ranked number 96 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players
* Ranked No. 47 on the all-time list of New York Rangers in the book 100 Ranger Greats, despite having his big offensive seasons in Toronto.

Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Pratt almost single-handedly brought the Stanley Cup to Toronto in 1945. In game 7 of the thrilling finals, Pratt fired the puck past Red Wings goalie Harry Lumley late in the game, giving the Leafs a 2-1 win!

Strong defensively and tough, even before his big offensive seasons in Toronto:

Originally Posted by legendsofhockey
Ranger scout Al Ritchie called Pratt the best prospect he had ever seen.... In his rookie year, he had some veteran defenders to watch and play with, including Ching Johnson, Art Coulter and Ott Heller. In 1939-40, Pratt teamed with Heller to form the league's best defense pairing. In 48 games, they allowed only 17 goals and their play was instrumental in the Rangers' Stanley Cup win that season. Pratt had 28 points in 1941-42 as the Rangers won the regular-season championship.
Originally Posted by wikipedia
Despite the brevity of his career, the time passed since it ended, and a reputation for rough play, in 1998, he was ranked number 96 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
Originally Posted by Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame
In 1936, Pratt turned professional with the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League. His experience on the blueline was instrumental in the Rangers’ Stanley Cup victory in 1939-40 and Pratt was known as one of the hardest-hitting and stingiest defencemen in the league.

After Pratt exploded offensively, he continued to be known for his hard hitting game, for blocking shots, and for providing a steadying influence on the blue line:

Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald, 1944
“Walter (Babe) Pratt, the big ice-general who helped (undrafted coach) mold a bunch of youngsters into the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs today was announced the Hart Trophy winner…spent quite a bit of his time during the season roving among the forwards…He scored 17 goals and set up the play for 40 others for an unusually high point mark for defensemen. Those points were highly important to the Leafs, but probably the Babe did more good back of the blue line with his blocking and his ability to steady jittery rookies:”

Originally Posted by (Windsor Daily Star, 1946)
“One of the hardest hitting defensemen in the league…”

Originally Posted by The Telegraph, 1946
“A colorful, hard checking rearguard… He was an outstanding player for the club last season and was prime factor (sic) in their capturing of the Stanley Cup.

Pratt's lifestyle was unappreciated by hockey people:

Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Pratt's fun loving lifestyle helped get him traded from New York to Toronto in 1942.
Conn Smythe was a long time admirer of Pratt's hockey skills, but must have been frustrated that he couldn't tame this wild horse.

"If he'd looked after himself he could have played until he was fifty. He was that good. But he was as big a drinker and all-around playboy as he was a hockey player." said Smythe.
Things went downhill drastically in 1946. On January 30, 1946 Pratt was suspended by the NHL. Pratt was the centerpiece of an infamous gambling scandal. Pratt was suspended for betting on NHL games involving games that didn't involve his Leafs. Initially the banishment was forever, but Pratt later admitted his ways and promised not to do them again. After missing 9 games, Pratt was reinstated.

Pratt's competition for the 1943-44 Hart (won during the war)

1. Walter Pratt, Tor D 87 (28 years old)
2. Bill Cowley, Bos C 84 (31 years old)
3. Doug Bentley, Chi LW 55 (27 years old, this would become Doug's one big playoff season)
4. Earl Seibert, Chi D 52 (32 years old)
5. Undrafted teammate of Pratt 45 (33 years old)


"The Successor to Ching Johnson:

"Giving Pratt Special Attention to get the most out of him:"

Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 04-20-2011 at 07:49 PM.
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