Millard Lawrence Houghton
Born: September 7, 1932 (Calgary)
Died: June 11, 2014 (Calgary)
Mid Houghton played defence for three teams over five seasons in the Western Hockey League in the 1950s.
He signed with the NHL’s New York Rangers organization at age 13, playing a season of junior in Ontario with the Guelph Biltmores and three seasons with his hometown Calgary Buffaloes. He had 27 goals and 49 assists in 124 junior games.
Houghton was still a junior when he became subject of a heated debate in junior hockey. After his Buffaloes were eliminated in the 1953 Memorial Cup playoffs by the Lethbridge (Alta.) Native Sons, the victors got permission to use the two-time all-star as a replacement after three regular defencemen suffered broken bones.
“Unfair,” declared Alex Shibicky, a former Rangers player who was coaching the Flin Flon (Man.) Bombers in a Western semifinal playoff against Lethbridge. Native Sons manager Ed Bruchet dismissed Shibicky’s complaint as “piteous and heart-rending.” With Lethbridge leading the best-of-seven series two games to none, Houghton suited up for the third game in Flin Flon. Lethbridge won and Houghton was not used in the fourth game during which the Native Sons completed the sweep.
His minor professional career began with the old Vancouver Canucks in 1953-54. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound rearguard scored six goals with 11 assists in 70 games in his debut season. He had a goal and three assists in 13 playoff games.
The Canucks sold Houghton to the Saskatoon Quakers midway through the 1954-55 season. He wound up his pro career with two campaigns with the Calgary Stampeders.
In 317 WHL games, he scored 22 goals with 68 assists. He had two goals and seven assists in 33 playoff games.
In 1954, Houghton joined SunLife, joining his father Gordon as an insurance salesman and manager.
He leaves Patricia, his wife of 39 years; two sons and three daughters; a stepdaughter; his stepmother; 14 grandchildren; and, 11 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, a granddaughter, a brother, and his first wife, Irene (née Earp) Tomlinson.