January 4, 2009

"Uncle Jack" the Blackhawk


John Leonard "Jack" Dyte was a distant relative of mine, and a much closer relative of my good friends Maggie and Sue from Buffalo. He played in 27 games as a defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1943-44, the season they lost the Stanley Cup finals to Montreal - although he missed that, having been traded to the AHL's Buffalo Bisons, where he won the Calder Cup instead.

But his history was longer than that. He started with the Barrie Colts, and moved on through Niagara Falls - where he won a Senior B title, Baltimore, Johnstown, and the Montreal Royals, gaining several all star selections, before his time in Chicago. While there he also played a little for Providence in the AHL.

After Buffalo and the 1944 Calder Cup sweep over Cleveland, there were stops in St Louis, New Liskeard - his original home town, North Sydney, and finally Temiscaming. There he was hired as the town's first full time recreation director, and he coached and played for the local Intermediate team, and the senior softball team. He renamed them the Royals from the Papermakers, and they went on to win a bunch of trophies before folding in 1964.

But the Royals live again as a Junior A team. If anyone wants to road trip to tiny Temiscaming for a game, let me know...

After Temiscaming, Jack spent 17 years coaching teams in and around Orillia, Ontario. He was honoured by the Orillia Minor Hockey Association in 1971.

Jack Dyte was inducted, posthumously, into the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.

Maggie and Sue remember what a warm, fun guy he was, and always thought it was cool that Uncle Jack had a steel plate in his head from playing hockey. Superstar hockey blogger Dennis Kane remembers him fondly, too:

My midget coach was a man named Jack Dyte. In 1943 he played 27 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, and that was it for his NHL career. He managed one goal and no assists during this stint. But the thing was, he chewed tobacco at our practices and spit the juice on the ice. So the surface had dozens of brown spots all over it. I always wondered how he got away with that.

He might not have been all that in the NHL, but he got there, and he won some trophies including a Calder Cup, and most of all, he gave so much to the game he loved. I'm very proud to be in the same family as Jack Dyte.

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