The AHL remembers, lest we forget

The American Hockey League honors the men and women who have served their countries in the armed forces as we mark Veterans’ Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada.

The AHL itself was affected in the 1940’s, when many players went off to join in the battles of World War II.

Teams throughout the AHL and NHL found their rosters depleted as the U.S. and Canadian militaries came calling. Many of the top players of the time had their playing careers interrupted or ended altogether as they served in the war — players like Les Douglas, Moe Roberts, Norm Burns, Murdo MacKay and Augie Herchenratter, who in 2014 was awarded France’s highest national honor: the rank of Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor for his role in helping to liberate France.

turner_200.jpgGoaltender Joe Turner (left) made his AHL debut in 1941-42 after bouncing around the local semi-pro leagues in Ontario. He was stellar in net for the Indianapolis Capitals, posting a record of 34-10-7 and leading the club to a Calder Cup championship. He even made his NHL debut on Mar. 5, backstopping the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-3 tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Following the season, Turner volunteered for duty in the U.S. Army, despite being Canadian. Late in 1944, Turner became one of the casualties of the Battle of Hurtgen Forest in Germany. He was 25.

In 1945, the Joseph Turner Memorial Cup was instituted as the championship trophy of the International Hockey League. Among the winners of the Turner Cup through the years were the Chicago Wolves, who were IHL champions in 1998 and 2000 before joining the AHL.

Red Garrett was another promising young player, spending his first professional season with the AHL’s Providence Reds and NHL’s New York Rangers in 1942-43. Garrett entered the Canadian Navy in 1943, and lost his life on Nov. 25, 1944, while working on a destroyer escort run off the coast of Newfoundland.

In 1947, the American Hockey League created the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award in his honor, to be presented annually to the AHL’s outstanding rookie player. In the last 70 years, winners of the award have included Terry Sawchuk, Roger Crozier, Rick Middleton, Darryl Sutter, Pelle Lindbergh, Ron Hextall, Brett Hull, Felix Potvin, Daniel Briere, Tyler Ennis, Tyler Toffoli, Curtis McKenzie, Matt Murray, Frank Vatrano, Mikko Rantanen and, in 2017, Daniel O’Regan.