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Bobby Baun

Bobby Baun
Born September 9, 1936 (1936-09-09) (age 73),
Lanigan, Saskatchewan, Canada
5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
182 lb (83 kg; 13 st 0 lb)
Position Defence
Shoots Right
Pro clubs AHL
Rochester Americans
Toronto Maple Leafs
Oakland Seals
Detroit Red Wings
Playing career 1956'1973

Robert Neil "Boomer" Baun (born September 9, 1936) is a retired professional ice hockey defenceman who played in the National Hockey League for 17 seasons from 1956'57 to 1972'73.


[edit] Playing career

Baun played junior hockey with the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1952 to 1956, winning the Memorial Cup in 1955 and 1956. After turning professional, Baun played most of the 1956'57 season with the Rochester Americans, the Toronto Maple Leafs affiliate in the American Hockey League. They would be the only minor league games Baun would ever play. He was called up to the Leafs during the season and played in Toronto for the next 11 seasons, winning the Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1967.

Baun was one of the hardest and cleanest hitters of his time. He was not considered an offensive threat as a defenceman, never scoring more than 20 points in a season in the NHL. His highest single-season goal total was eight in 1959'60. However, Baun is remembered for his performance in game six of the 1963'64 NHL season Stanley Cup finals against the Detroit Red Wings. On April 23, 1964, having broken his ankle earlier in the game, he returned in overtime and scored the game winning goal. The Leafs won the next game 4'0 to win the best of seven series, and secure their third consecutive league championship.

He developed a reputation for understanding the business side of playing in the NHL in the years before there was a players' union. Eventually, other players sought Baun's advice about their contracts and salaries, which eroded his relationship with Leafs' general manager Punch Imlach. That relationship deteriorated even further when Baun was a holdout for the 1965'66 season. Baun eventually got a raise, but Imlach never forgot it. A series of injuries further dimmed Imlach's enthusiasm for Baun. In 1966'67, Baun suffered a broken toe. Imlach replaced him with Larry Hillman and Baun saw little ice time after that. He was mostly an observer from the bench for the Leafs' 1967 Cup victory, and refused to participate in the celebrations.

Before the next season, Baun was left unprotected in the 1967 expansion draft, and was selected by the Oakland Seals. Baun was one of four members of the Memorial Cup-winning Marlboros teams from the mid-1950s to play for the Seals, but the team struggled badly on the ice, particularly on offence, finishing the year with the worst record in the league. Baun asked to be traded back to an Original Six team, and Oakland accommodated his request, dealing him to the Detroit Red Wings in May 1968. Baun played in Detroit for two years but early into the 1970'71 season he found himself at odds with coach Ned Harkness and was placed on waivers. From there, he was claimed by the Buffalo Sabres, managed by Imlach, who immediately traded him to the St. Louis Blues. Baun refused to report to St. Louis and nine days later was traded back to the Maple Leafs for Brit Selby.

The Leafs benefitted from Baun's defensive play, helping Jacques Plante to record a 1.88 goals against average in 1970'71. Baun was just as effective the next season. In the fifth game of the 1972'73 season, he suffered a neck injury that ended his NHL career at the age of 36.

[edit] Coaching career

Baun retired as a player and ran a cattle farm, but three years later, he was hired as head coach of the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association. Mike Nykoluk, another member of the Marlboros in the mid-1950s, had been the team's first choice, but he turned the job down. Playing for the Toros were three of Baun's former Leaf teammates: Frank Mahovlich, Paul Henderson, and Jim Dorey, as well as future NHL star Mark Napier and Vaclav Nedomansky. But the Toros under Baun had a disastrous year, finishing the 1975'76 season with the worst record in the league. The Toros even finished 11 points behind the Minnesota Fighting Saints'a team that had folded with 21 games left to play in the season. Baun was replaced as coach after the season. He returned to farming and also sold insurance after his retirement from hockey.

[edit] Baun and the NHL pension plan

In the 1980s, Baun organized an NHL alumni association and began an investigation into the NHL's pension plan. The plan had been touted to players as the best in professional sports, but after playing in 17 NHL seasons, Baun's pension was only $7,622 a year. Baun received little support from other players, and eventually gave up. Problems with the pension plan were later uncovered through an audit backed by Carl Brewer.

[edit] Other

On June 1, 2007, Baun was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology for his work on and off the ice. He currently resides in Oshawa, Ontario.

[edit] References

  • Fischler, Stan. Hockey Stars of 1969.
  • Lader, Martin and Tim Moriarty. Face-off 1973'74.

[edit] External links

Preceded by
new creation
California Seals/Oakland Seals captains
Succeeded by
Ted Hampson

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