Robert Edward Solinger
Born: December 23, 1925 (Star City, Saskatchewan)
Died: December 10, 2014
Bob Solinger played in 99 NHL games, all but one of those with the Toronto Maple Leafs over four seasons. The forward scored 10 goals and added 11 assists in his NHL career, during which he was unable to permanently crack the lineup.
Solinger split all four of his NHL seasons with service with the Pittsburgh Hornets, the Leafs top farm club. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound winger starred in the American Hockey League, where he won rookie of the year honours in 1948. He also won the Calder Cup championship a record five times. The feat is all the more remarkable for Solinger having won the trophy with three different AHL clubs.
The well-travelled forward wore the sweaters of 15 different senior and professional teams in a career spanning from 1945 until 1969.
Born in Star City, Sask., Solinger played a single season of junior hockey as a defenceman with the Prince Albert Blackhawks. At 19, he joined the amateur Philadelphia Falcons for the 1945-46 season.
Solinger turned professional with the Cleveland Barons of the AHL, scoring 40 goals and adding 29 assists as a left winger in 1947-48. In nine playoff games, he scored a league-leading seven goals to lead the Barons to the Calder Cup. He would later win the AHL championship in 1952 and ’55 with the Pittsburgh Hornets, and in 1958 and ’59 with the Hershey Bears.
The 11 AHL coaches voted Solinger the outstanding rookie for 1947-48. He won the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award by a single point, 20-19, over Fleming Mackell of the Hornets. (The coaches voted for three players on a three, two and one-point basis, and the coaches could not vote for players on their own roster.)
The Maple Leafs traded Ray Ceresino and Harry Taylor, while agreeing to loan Tod Sloan, to Cleveland in exchange for Solinger on Sept. 6, 1949. The forward spent the following two seasons with the Hornets before at last making his NHL debut in the 1951-52 season. He scored just five goals in a 24-game tryout.
Solinger spent the next four seasons shuttling between Toronto and Pittsburgh, a frequent call up as a replacement for injured Leafs forwards. The Leafs finally sold him to the Detroit Red Wings in the 1956 offseason.
The Red Wings assigned Solinger to the Bears. He played a single game for Detroit in the 1959-60 season, his 99th and final NHL assignment.
Solinger spent five fruitful seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Edmonton Flyers, San Francisco Seals and Los Angeles Blades.
He closed out his career playing senior hockey in Alberta with the Lacombe Rockets, Red Deer Rustlers, Edmonton Nuggets, and Edmonton Monarchs. He won the Allan Cup in 1966 when he was loaned by Lacombe to the Drumheller Miners for the playoffs.
Solinger worked for the Alberta government after retiring from hockey. In recent years, he was a resident of Spruce Grove, Alta., though he wintered in Arizona.