Norm Locking Chicago Black Hawks & former Owen Sound Grey was known for his hard and deadly shot in Al Capone's Chicago.
The thought of a Chicago Blackhawk left-winger wearing the number nine on his jersey, roaring down the ice and unloading a blistering shot, brings the name Bobby Hull immediately to mind.
But almost a quarter of a century before the Golden Jet terrorized opposition goalies with his blistering shot, Chicago hockey fans watched in amazement as their number nine of the 1935 Hawks, Norm Locking, introduced his blazing slapshot to the goaltenders in the National Hockey League.
Norm Locking Chicago Black Hawks - Paul White Hockey Photograph Collection
Locking is considered by hockey historians to be the first player to use a slapshot in the NHL. However, his version was somewhat different than that of today’s hard shooting snipers.
Locking drew his stick back a few inches from the puck and, with terrific wrist action and forearm strength, sent the puck zipping towards the net at speeds few goalies had witnessed at that time. What made this shot even more amazing was that Locking never lifted his stick off the ice.
Locking played his junior career with the Owen Sound Greys. In his final year of junior hockey, Locking, and the Greys reached the OHA semi-finals. The next season, at age 19, Locking was playing professional hockey.
He signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs but spent most of the 1931-32 season with the Pittsburgh Yellowjackets. At the end of the first season, he was traded to the Chicago Black Hawk organization.
During the next few seasons, he toiled in the minors waiting for his break. After several call-ups to Chicago, it was not until the 1935-36 season that he played an entire season with the Blackhawks. To a young man from the relatively quiet community of Owen Sound, the lifestyle Of Al Capone's Chicago must have been quite amazing.
Locking recalled later in life that he had been in Chicago when the St. Valentine's Day Massacre occurred. He said that a few days later, he went with some teammates to the site and saw bloodstains still on the ground.
After his full season with Chicago, Locking played briefly with teams in St. Paul, Minnesota; London, Ontario; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and finally, the Syracuse Stars. The Stars traded Locking to the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League.
An indication of how much Cleveland valued Locking's hockey talents can be seen by what they traded to acquire his services. They gave Syracuse three players and a large sum of cash.
While with Cleveland, he enjoyed considerable success. Four times he was selected to the AHL's First All-Star Team. In 1941, Norm Locking became the first player in the history of the AHL to score 100 career goals.
Norm Locking was a fan favorite in Cleveland. His slapshot and timely goals led to a saying around the Cleveland arena: "Opportunity is knocking...and is answered by Locking!"
Many sports fans often wondered why Locking never returned to the NHL. Certainly, his swift skating and hard shot which had given him so much scoring success would have helped him play in the NHL.
It was learned later that Cleveland had purchased his NHL rights and was paying him $5,000 a season, a total which was the equivalent of a big league salary.
In 1943 Locking retired from professional hockey. He moved to Port Elgin and took a job as a salesman with Stevens-Hepner. He regained his amateur card allowing him to coach and play for the Intermediate Port Elgin Keystones.
After the intermediate team folded in Port Elgin, Locking became an OHA referee.
One season he refereed in the Memorial Cup finals. His abilities as a referee came to the attention of the AHL. They offered him an opportunity to return to the professional ranks as a referee. Locking turned down this opportunity in order to continue living and working in Port Elgin.
In 1972-73, after a 25-year absence from coaching, Locking returned to hockey as the coach of the Port Elgin Sunocos.
A version of "Norm Locking Chicago Black Hawks & Former Owen Sound Grey," originally appeared in my Local History column in the February 17, 1997 edition of the Owen Sound Sun Times.
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.