Darryl Sly

Though he never really made it to the National Hockey League, one of hockey's greatest champions was Darryl "Slip" Sly.

Sly was born in the shipbuilding town of Collingwood, Ontario. No matter where in the world hockey took him, he never forgot home.

He quickly rose through the ranks of the Collingwood Minor Hockey system, as a center. When he joined the famed St. Mike's team in Toronto, a team that boasted future NHL Hall-of-Famer Frank Mahovolich, he switched to defense.

He graduated in 1958, and the Toronto Maple Leafs offered him a $3,500-a-year contract with a $1,500 signing bonus. Instead, Sly pursued his education joined the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchman of the OHA Sr. 'A' League. Soon enough he was teaching in Elmira, Ontario for $2900 a year, and was still able to play on the Dutchman team that played in the 1960 Winter Olympics, earning a silver medal.

Sly did not particularly endear himself to Swedish fans in those Olympics. In an exhibition game Sly, who was not wearing any shoulder pads, broke Swedish star Nils Nilsson's jaw with a body check. In a rematch he beat up legend Tumba Johansson in a fight.

He joined the Sr. 'A' Galt Terriers afterward, when he was invited to play with the Trail Smoke Eaters in the 1961 world championships. At the worlds, the Smokies stymied the Soviet team 5-1. Sly scored four goals in seven games, and was named to the all-star team on defence.

He returned to Galt and helped the team to an Allan Cup, scoring two goals in the final versus Winnipeg. Leaf coach Punch Imlach and chief scout Bob Davidson watched that final game, and were finally able to sign Sly to a pro contract.

He was assigned to play, sometimes as a forward, for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, but little did he know he would be playing there for most of the decade. The Leafs were a veteran team winning Stanley Cups, so there was no room for developing prospects, especially on the blue line. Sly would play just two games with the Leafs in 1965-66, and another 17 games in 1967-68.

He wouldn't score his first NHL goal until he was with the Minnesota North Stars during the 1969-70 season. He later played 31 games with the expansion Vancouver Canucks.

He returned to Simcoe County and played for the Barrie Flyers Sr. A team from 1971 to 1978 and was a player-coach during the 1972-73 season. In all, with his forays in the AHL, and the OHA senior league, the Olympics and the world championships, both as a player and a coach, Sly was part of 14 championship teams.

His legacy also includes returning home to become a successful businessman, operating a Chrysler dealership, developing real estate and serving as a teacher.

Sly died on August 28th, 2007 after a long bout with cancer.

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