Pierre Pilote (Hockey card image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hockey Hall-of-Famer Pierre Pilote Dies at 85

Pierre Pilote, who won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, has died, the NHL has confirmed.

The defenceman died Sunday in Barrie at the age of 85.

In a statement, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman praised Pilote asĀ “a consistent, durable, dependable defender who enjoyed the offensive aspects of the position”.

Born in Quebec, Pilote and his family moved to Fort Erie, Ont. as a teenager. He had not begun playing organized hockey until he was 17 years old. Pilote played his junior hockey for two seasons with the St. Catharines Teepees, then went to the Buffalo Bisons of the AHL.

He joined the Blackhawks in the 1955-56 season and almost immediately became a key part of Chicago’s blue-line effort, despite his 5′ 10″ frame. He played 13 seasons for Chicago, winning just one Stanley Cup, in 1961. He finished his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, in the 1968-69 season.

Pilote won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman three years straight, from 1963 to 1965. He was a runner-up in Norris voting three additional seasons. He had 80 goals and 418 assists in his playing career, along with 1,251 penalty minutes. He also had an additional eight goals and 53 assists in playoff action.

Pilote was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975. He has been on The Hockey News’ list of the top 100 hockey players of all time and has been honoured with a postage stamp by Canada Post. His number-3 jersey number has been co-retired by the Blackhawks, with Keith Magnuson.