The Ontario Hockey League is deeply saddened by the loss of graduate, former Memorial Cup champion and long-time NHL defenceman Pat Stapleton who passed away on Wednesday night at the age of 79.
Originally from Sarnia, Ont., Stapleton got his start as a back-to-back champion with his hometown Jr. B Sarnia Legionnaires before advancing to the St. Catharines Teepees from 1958-60. He hoisted the Memorial Cup on a 1960 Teepees club that also featured eventual NHLers in Vic Hadfield and Chico Maki and was a two-time OHA First Team All-Star. After 83 points (22-61–83) over two seasons in St. Catharines, Stapleton embarked on a pro career that would span 18 seasons.
The Blackhawks express our deepest sympathies to the family, friends and teammates of Pat Stapleton, who passed away last night.
As a former team captain and member of the Blackhawks Alumni Association, Stapleton’s contributions to the organization will forever be remembered. pic.twitter.com/LJK0wh0ee6
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 9, 2020
After breaking into the NHL with the Boston Bruins, Stapleton’s time in the league would be largely spent with the Chicago Blackhawks where he played eight seasons from 1965-73. He’d record 337 points (43-294–337) over 635 NHL contests before suiting up in 372 in the WHA between the Chicago Cougars, Indianapolis Racers and Cincinnati Stingers from 1973-78.
Stapleton played in four NHL All-Star Games and led the league in points by a defenceman in 1971 and 1973.
Known to many as ‘Whitey,’ Stapleton represented Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, helping guide Canada to victory with a plus-6 plus/minus rating. He’d patrol the Canadian blue line in the event once again in 1974, this time serving as captain.
Stapleton’s post-career ventures included playing an integral role in the growth and development of his local Junior B team, the Strathroy Rockets of the GOJHL. His son Mike Stapleton played three OHL seasons with the Cornwall Royals from 1983-86 before a 687-game NHL career from 1986-2001. Mike served behind the bench with the Erie Otters and Soo Greyhounds from 2006-13 and is now a pro scout with the Anaheim Ducks.
PAT STAPLETON – JULY 4/40 – APL 8/20 It is with much sadness that we inform you of the passing of Team Canada 1972 member Pat Stapleton. Pat was a passionate advocate of the Power of Teamwork message Canada’s Team of the Century held for all Canadians @sportshall @SLegionnaires pic.twitter.com/rglz6eDpBO
— Team Canada 1972 (@TeamCanada1972) April 9, 2020
Pat Stapleton was a 2005 inductee into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame for his part in the 1972 Summit Series. He was also elected as an inaugural inductee into the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame in 2010.
For more on the life and career of Pat Stapleton, visit the London Free Press.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Pat “Whitey” Stapleton
A local hockey icon and fantastic human being, he will be missed by many. pic.twitter.com/DvXo4VBEBl
— Sarnia Sting (@StingHockey) April 9, 2020