Bob Leckie’s hockey legacy didn’t carry him past the senior level. However, a vital piece of Leckie’s collection has found its way into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In 1944-45, Leckie played with the Galt Red Wings OHA junior club. One of his teammates that season was a 16-year-old right-winger from Floral, Saskatchewan named Gordie Howe.
When Leckie died in 2016, his daugher Christine was going through her dad’s personal effects. Among them were a collection of scrapbooks that spanned his hockey career. In one of those scrapbooks were two prize snapshots. The was a team photo of the 1944-45 Galt Red Wings and a head shot of the young Gordie Howe.
Eventually, she contacted the Hockey Hall of Fame. The photos are now among the Hall’s collection of artifacts, reports the Cambridge Record. They are believed to be the only known photographs of Howe with the Galt team. It was there that he began the legacy that would make him the greatest player in Detroit Red Wings history.
Gordie Howe’s Detroit Red Wings Legacy Began in Galt
The fall of 1944 saw Howe signing a C-form contract that made him property of the Detroit Red Wings. He was assigned to Detroit’s OHA junior club in Galt. Unfortunately, Howe wasn’t allowed to play because OHA rules permitted only one import. Galt already had another player from outside Ontario.
Howe practised all season with the team. His participation in exhibition games was permissable. Meanwhile, he was learning the game from Galt coach Al Murray, a former NHL defenseman with the New York Americans.
“He came to me and said: ‘I’ve got some news for you and you’re not going to like it,'” Howe remembered in a 2003 interview. “That’s when he told me my transfer didn’t come through. But he told me if I stayed the year in Guelph, he’d make me into a hockey player, and he did.”
Howe turned pro in 1945, playing for coach Tommy Ivan with Omaha of the U.S. League. By 1946, he was making his NHL debut with the Red Wings.