The AHL remembers, lest we forget

On this November 11, the American Hockey League honors the men and women who have served their country 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 — players like Les Douglas, Moe Roberts, Norm Burns, Augie Herchenratter and Murdo MacKay — had their playing careers interrupted or ended altogether as they served in the war.

Goaltender Joe Turner 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. Two current AHL franchises — the Chicago Wolves and Houston Aeros — captured the Turner Cup before joining AHL in 2001.

The Red Garrett Award has been presented each year since 1947-48 to the AHL’s outstanding rookie.

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 57 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 and, in 2005, Rene Bourque.