Harry Lumley

Harry Lumley spent his Hall of Fame hockey career tending the nets for four NHL clubs and he spent one period of a hockey game goaltending for a fifth NHL team.


subscribe free or become a member

The Great Lakes Raconteur

How Harry Lumley Became A Goalie

He won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. Later in his career he captured a Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He recorded 71 career shutouts including 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But Harry Lumley only became a goalie only because one of his teammates failed to show up for a hockey game. 

Harry “Apple Cheeks” Lumley was born on November 11, 1926 in Owen Sound, Ontario. His nickname was due to his rosy cheeks. Like most young Canadian boys Harry grew up playing hockey. One day his Strathcona Public School hockey team was getting ready to play in the Owen Sound School hockey league when it was realized that their goalie was missing. The coach had to find a replacement, and quickly.

As he surveyed the team of twelve-year olds his eyes found the gangly youth who towered over the rest of the team. He had found his replacement goalie. “Lumley”, he shouted, “Put on the pads, you are playing goal!”

Lumley recorded a shutout in his first game. And, the rest was history.

In 1943, before his seventeenth birthday, Harry signed a professional contract with the Detroit Red Wings. 

He started his professional career in Indianapolis. It was not long before Jack Adams, the wily general manager and coach of the Red Wings, became aware of the youngster tending the twine for his Indianapolis farm club. In December 1943, barely seventeen years of age, Harry Lumley made his first start in National Hockey League.

harry-lumley-red-wingsHarry Lumley
Detroit Red Wings

His opponents were the New York Rangers. After shutting out the Rangers in the first period, Harry recalled thinking that the NHL wasn’t so tough. But the second period was to be a totally different experience for the youngster!

The Rangers peppered the Red Wing rookie with shots from every angle. New York put six pucks behind Lumley before the final buzzer put a merciful end to the youngster agony. 

His second NHL game was not any better. Chicago put seven goals behind him and after the final whistle Harry was told that he was headed but to the minors. But, before he returned to Indianapolis, Lumley would have a unique experience.

Harry’s train to Indianapolis was not due to leave Detroit until after the Red Wings played another game. Their opponent was the Rangers.

With Harry sitting in the stands, Detroit was leading the game. But at the end of the second period the Rangers’ goalie was injured. In the 1940s NHL teams only carried one goalie. If the visiting team’s goalie could not play the home team would often offer a player from the stands to substitute. When New York asked if Detroit had a spare goalie they could use, they offered Lumley’s services.

During the third period, wearing a Rangers’ jersey, Harry stood on his head stopping everything that his Red Wing teammates fired in his direction.

Although he shut out Detroit, the Rangers still lost the game.

After the game an irate Detroit coach screamed at his players “the best Red Wing player tonight wasn’t even wearing a Red Wings’ sweater!”

The following season, after 20 games in the minors, Harry Lumley became the youngest regular goalie in the history of the NHL, when at the age of 18, he was named the starting netminder for the rest of the 1944-45 season. 

Lumley took the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup finals, only to lose in a heart-breaking series with the Maple Leafs.

But in the 1949-50 Stanley Cup playoffs, Harry achieved the dream of every hockey player when he led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup.

Despite his stellar goaltending, including three shutouts in the playoffs, on their way to a Stanley Cup championship, Harry found himself heading to Chicago in a multi-player trade. His move to the worst team in the NHL was not because Harry had played poorly, it was because the goalie behind him with the Red Wings was another future Hall of Fame netminder, who would become the greatest goalie in the history of the game, Terry Sawchuk!

His stay in the “Windy City” ended, just prior to the beginning of the 1952-53 season when Lumley was traded to Toronto. After a disappointing first season with the Leafs Harry had a brilliant season in 1953-54, leading the league in shutouts (13) and winning the Vezina Trophy with the league’s goals against average (1.86).

He was an NHL First All-Star both in 1954 and 1955 with the Leafs.

harry-lumley-bruinsHarry Lumley
Toronto Maple Leafs

Despite his great play, Harry was traded to Chicago after the end of the 1955-56 season. However, Lumley was not in any hurry to report to the Hawks, instead he spent one and a half seasons with their Buffalo farm club before being traded to the Boston Bruins.

harry-lumley-bruinsHarry Lumley
Boston Bruins
Beehive Photo

Harry Lumley retired from the NHL at the end of the 1960 season.

Two decades after he last donned the goalie pads in the National Hockey League, Harry “Apple Cheeks” Lumley received the ultimate recognition when in 1980 he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A version of this story first appeared in my Sports History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times. For more information about Owen Sound's hockey history, check out my latest hockey book, Journey Through Owen Sound's Hockey History.

More Great Information Pages
About Owen Sound Hockey History

The 1920s Owen Sound Hockey Stars made there mark in amateur ranks and then many of them went on to careers in the NHL and other professional hockey leagues.

The 1927 Owen Sound Greys with a priest serving as coach named Jack Spratt and not one experienced defenseman were an unlikely Canadian National Hockey Championship team.

Benny Grant: Memorial Cup Champ grew up in Owen Sound and enjoyed a hockey career, which included a surprising turn of events that led to a stint in the NHL.

"Buck" Jones, like most Canadian boys, dreamed of playing in the NHL. Little did he realize that one day he would wear the sweater of an NHL club and would be the idol of youngsters like himself!

The Chin Brothers dominated in their hockey league which drew attention from the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Ralph "Cooney" Weiland skated from a Memorial Cup championship in Owen Sound, to a Stanley Cup in Boston to fame as a U.S. college hockey coach.

The Crescent Club has a long history of sponsoring sports teams and leagues in Owen Sound providing consistent management and financial assistance to athletics.

"Cyclone" Taylor was hockey's first superstar. Born in Tara Ontario, he was involved in a controversy in Ottawa which still has not been resolved.

Doug Brindley: From Maple Draft Choice to a role in Slap Shot: a Memorial Cup champ; coached by Don Cherry; and he played in the WHA; what more could a Walkerton Ontario native ask for in a hockey career?

The Durham Yellowjackets hockey team was a force to be reckoned with in Ontario Intermediate hockey in the 1930s.

Goalie "Red" Henry: An All-Star Netminder: Another great Owen Sound goalie who played for the love of the game.

"Hap" Day was a Hall of Fame hockey player, coach and general manager as well as a life-long Toronto Maple Leaf.

Norm Locking Chicago Black Hawks & Former Owen Sound Grey was known for his hard and deadly shot in Al Capone's Chicago.

Harry Lumley spent his Hall of Fame hockey career tending the nets for four NHL clubs and he spent one period of a hockey game goaltending for a fifth NHL team.

Henry Kelso: Owen Sound Sports Legend not only contributed to the sporting life of his students, he also had a significant influence on the rest of their lives.

Junior Hockey Commentary: Should there be controversy about the use of non-local hockey players? This article was written in 1998 in response to a letter to the editor in the Owen Sound Sun Times.

Meaford Knights Hockey: The 1953-54 Championship Knights' line-up had of several pairs of brothers. Many felt that the brothers made a winning difference.

Newspaper Sports: Owen Sound Hockey History was detailed in the pages of the Owen Sound Sun Times in detail in the days before the radio and television eras.

Owen Sound Hockey's early history some references suggest started in the 1880s. However there are records of organized hockey teams beginning in the early 1900s.

Owen Sound was a Hockey Hotbed in 1950-51: Their fans were hockey crazy during this OHA Senior A Championship season as their star-studded team marched to an Allan Cup victory.

The 1959-60 Owen Sound Greys: A Tough Act to Follow: Tragedy struck this hockey team of young men, yet they persevered.

The 1960s Owen Sound Greys Stars who went on to NHL action including Brian Perry, Doug Brindley, Jim Schoenfeld, and Jack Lynch brought Owen Sound a reputation as a hockey hotbed!

Owen Sound Attack: The arrival of this new OHL team is the latest chapter in the Owen Sound region's rich hockey history.

Owen Sound Goalies: Why does Owen Sound produce so many fine goaltenders? There must be something in the water! 

Some Great Owen Sound Greys. The history of this hockey team is a story of players who were not only local boys, but came from many locations to hone their skills.

Owen Sound Hockey Heritage stretches from rural farmhouses on Saturday night to backyard rinks to cheering for local hockey successes and hockey heroes.

Owen Sound Junior Hockey History began almost one hundred and twenty years ago and is rich with championship teams, great players, and dedicated fans. 

Owen Sound's New Arena in 1938 opened a new era in Grey and Bruce counties with the first artificial ice making machine in western Ontario north of Kitchener.

Owen Sound Platers: Ray McKelvie the quiet and knowledgeable leader behind the success of the 1999 hockey team.

Pat McReavy enjoyed a long hockey career which brought him three championships, the Stanley Cup, the Allan Cup and a World Hockey Title.

Paul MacDermid, born in Chesley Ontario, through hard work and determination enjoyed a 12 year NHL career, before keeping junior hockey alive in Owen Sound by working with a group citizens to purchase the Attack OHL franchise.

"Red" Armstrong, a fiery spirited hockey player, known more for his fierce checking than his scoring prowess surprised even himself on his first NHL shift.

Red Leckie was more than a good hockey player. He played for the team, not for himself. Outside hockey, he responded when he saw a need in his community.

Southampton hockey history in the early years featured a distinct line of defense in the local arena, and stories of interesting "road" trips.

Tommy Burlington: the Greatest North American Never to Play in the NHL captured scoring titles in every league that he played, bringing comparisons to NHL greats.

Owen Sound Hockey History is rich with stories of championship teams, star hockey players, and community support.

  1. History Articles
  2. Owen Sound Hockey History
  3. Harry Lumley

   Get The Great Lakes Raconteur  -->   

Share this page: