Thomas Connell Broden
Born: April 6, 1932 (Montréal)
Died: November 23, 2013 (Toronto)
Member: Whitby Sports Hall of Fame (1998)
In March, 1958, Connie Broden won a world hockey championship gold medal and the following month won a Stanley Cup, becoming the only player to ever accomplish the double triumphs in the same calendar year.
He accomplished the unusual feat after retiring from hockey. Temporarily, as it turned out.
Broden, a slick, sharpshooting centre, led the world championship tournament in scoring with 11 goals and 7 assists. He scored a goal in the final game against the Soviet Union, which Canada won, 4-2. The Whitby (Ont.) Dunlops, representing Canada, went undefeated in seven games in the tournament in Norway, outscoring opponents, 82-6, with Broden scoring in every contest.
The centre returned from the tournament in Oslo to rejoin the Montreal Canadiens, skating in three end-of-season games, as well as one in the playoffs. The modest contribution was rewarded when he earned the right to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound centre played hockey in Montreal for the Junior Royals and the Junior Canadiens while attending Loyola College. He played two seasons with the minor-league Cincinnati Mohawks of the International Hockey League, scoring 29 and 32 goals in those campaigns as the Mohawk claimed the Turner Cup as league champions both seasons.
He joined the Shawinigan Falls Cataracts of the Quebec Hockey League in 1954-55, earning rookie of the year honours with 62 points in 62 games. The Cataracts claimed the Edinburgh Trophy as national minor professional champions.
Broden was nearing the end of his second campaign with the Cataracts when he had a three-game NHL tryout with the Canadiens in 1956, replacing an injured Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard. Broden got on the scoresheet only once in those games after being assessed a minor penalty.
The Canadiens made him a playoff callup the following season, during which he gained an assist while seeing spot duty in six games. The 1957 contribution earned him the right to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup for the first time.
The Canadiens failed to protect him before the summer inter-league draft, so the Boston Bruins grabbed his rights. Broden was assigned to the farm team in Springfield, but the centre decided to retire rather than report to the Indians, owned by the notorious Eddie Shore.
Months later, the senior-A Dunlops approached the Canadiens about acquiring junior players, with an eye to borrowing Ralph Backstrom, a future NHL star. The Canadiens balked and the Dunnies wound up with Broden, who returned from retirement to score in all seven games during the tournament at Oslo, Norway.
The Canadians had an easy time at the Jordal Amfi arena, beating Poland (14-1), Norway (12-0), Finland (24-0), Sweden (10-2), Czechoslovakia (6-0), and the United States (12-1) before facing the defending champion Soviets in their first test in the tournament.
The Dunlops did not care for coach Wren Blair and they planned vengeance at the conclusion of the Oslo tournament, Broden later told Tim Burke of the Montreal Gazette.
“At the end of the second period, we were leading by a goal,” Broden recounted. “Between periods, Blair suggested that if we won, it’d be fitting if the players skated over to the bench and hoist Blair to their shoulders.
“Jean-Paul Lamirande, an all-star during the tournament who was a frequent target of Blair’s unwarranted sarcasm, told me, ‘If that s.o.b. Steps on the ice, I’ll trip him.’
“The game ended, we won. Sure enough, there was Blair standing atop the boards, waiting to be lifted but no players approached him. Undaunted, he jumped onto the ice surface with his arms upraised, making his way towards the throng of happy Canadian players.
“As he walked and slid towards the group, Lamirande, true to his word, skated behind Blair and, with his stick, took Blair’s feet from under him.
“Blair, arms and legs flying in al directions, fell flat on his butt in front of 15,000 people.
“That caper was almost as enjoyable as winning the championship.”
The Dunlops continued on an exhibition tour of Europe, but Broden flew home early from Paris. His wife, Elizabeth, was expecting, and the Canadiens wanted him to fill in for the team late in the NHL season.
The centre returned with praise for some of his Soviet opponents. “(Nikolai) Solugobov and (Ivan) Trebugov, the Russian defencemen, were real good,” he told the Gazette in 1958. “That Trebugov is a real prospect.” He also found the Soviet players to be less paranoid than he’d been told from their previous tournaments. “They stayed in the same hotel with us and we spoke to them all the time. They’re really nice guys.”
Broden also skated for the Canadiens in a single playoff game. After sweeping the Detroit Red Wings in four games, the Canadiens defended their Cup title by defeating Boston is six games. Six weeks after winning a world championship gold medal, Broden had earned the right to get his name on the Stanley Cup a second time.
His entire NHL career lasted just 13 games (six regular season, plus seven playoff).
Though he played very little, he impressed coach Toe Blake with his enthusiasm. The coach even once pointed out Broden in the dressing room between periods, saying, “Look how eager he is to play. That’s the kind of spirit I want from all of you.”
“What Blake didn’t know,” Broden told Ian MacDonald of the Gazette in 2003, “is I was paid $100 for every game I dressed and another $25 if I played. If a guy limped off, or skated to the bench because he was tired, I’d jump on right away to get that 25-percent pay raise.”
After a final season with the Ottawa-Hull Canadiens, Broden retired from hockey to take up a career as a bremaster and an executive with Molson Breweries, his employer for 32 years. He also later became a scout for the Winnipeg Jets, a role he continued after the franchise became the Phoenix Coyotes.
Broden died at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He was 81. He leaves Elizabeth, his wife of 57 years, who was a longtime personal assistant to the movie director Norman jewison; a son; three daughters; and, two brothers.
In 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation cited Broden’s feat of winning two championships in six weeks as one of the Top 100 stories in international hockey history.