Gary Steven Sittler
Born: March 14, 1952 (St. Jacobs, Ontario)
Died: February 24, 2015 (Fort Nelson, British Columbia)
Gary Sittler was a rock’em, sock ’em defenceman who accumulated staggering penalty minute totals in the roustabout International Hockey League.
Sittler, the younger brother of Darryl Sittler, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, skated in only five games of major professional hockey. He scored one goal and added an assist in his brief tenure with the Baltimore Blades of the World Hockey Association in 1974-75.
The goal was scored against Les Binkley of the Toronto Toros at Maple Leaf Gardens on March 4, 1975. Sittler picked up an assist on a third-period goal by Jean-Paul LeBlanc, all of his scoring coming after fighting Jeff Jacques in the first period. Despite his efforts, the sad-sack Blades lost, 6-4. It was their 19th defeat in 20 games.
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound defenceman played junior hockey with the London Knights before turning professional for the 1972-73 season, which he spent with three Eastern Hockey League teams — Jersey Devils, Syracuse Blazers, and Suncoast Suns.
He spent the following two seasons as an anchor with the Blazers’ defensive corps, managing to be penalized 569 penalty minutes in those campaigns. That he scored 13 goals seemed an afterthought, though he was a skilled playmaker, as he was credited with 67 assists.
In 1975-76, he led the notorious International Hockey League with a staggering 376 penalty minutes (more than 18 complete games). In 78 games, much of it spent in the penalty box, he still managed to score four goals with 40 assists for the Saginaw (Mich.) Gears.
While with the Blazers of the North American Hockey League, he was named a First Team All-Star in 1974-75 and a Second Team All-Star in 1976-77. Sittler won two Lockhart Cup championships while with the Blazers in 1974 and ’78.
He wrapped up his playing career with the Gears in 1977-78, scoring 11 goals in 78 games, a career high.
Sittler lived for a quarter-century in Wawa, Ont., where he coached the Wawa Travellers junior team, before relocating to Fort Nelson, B.C., where he spent several years in the forest industry. More recently, he handled maintenance for School District No. 81.
Gary Sittler twice won the NAHL’s Lockhart Cup championship with the Syracuse Blazers.