Marty Pavelich

When you think of the great Detroit teams of the 1950s you automatically recall Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Red Kelly, Terry Sawchuk, Sid Abel....the list is seemingly endless. One of the names on that team that time seems to have forgotton is Marty Pavelich. That's our job here - to forever immortalize yesterday's heroes online.

Marty wasn't the most explosive scorer in the league but he put up respectable offensive totals and was a 4 time NHL All Star. But his job was more that of a defensive winger. He excelled in shutting down the other team's top gun.

So good was he at shutting down the opposition, Stan Fischler, a famous hockey author, ranked him as the 4th best defensive forward of all time in his book Hockey's 100. Only Claude Provost, Joe Klukay and Ed Westfall ranked ahead Marty

"Complementing the Production Line (Howe/Abel/Lindsay) on the awesome Detroit Red Wings of the 1950s was this slithery center (though he played mostly LW) who tormented the foe with his tenacious checking" wrote Fischler.

Probably Pavelich's best known opponent to shadow was Rocket Richard, who Pavelich held in high regard.

"Well, Richard, that was my job to check him for 10 years and to me, he was the greatest goal scorer of all time. Even anybody playing today. Richard would have scored … he had a knack of getting the puck to the net. He was a very determined hockey player. Very, very fierce competitor.

Pavelich also had high regard for several other players as well, as he told

"The two Bentleys (Max and Doug) and (Bill) Mosienko. That line had speed to burn. That was a real good hockey line. And of course big Milt Schmidt, one of my all-time favorites with Boston. He was an outstanding hockey player. And of course you had some in Toronto. You had Teeder Kennedy who was the big gun in Toronto at that time. Then I played against Syl Apps, too, and he was a pretty good hockey player in his day. There were a lot of good guys. A lot of guys that were very competitive and we would do battle all the time. And of course (Doug) Harvey, we always thought that without Harvey on that team we could beat Montreal because he really was controlling the puck back on that blueline. He'd pick it up and take his time, get it out, move it out, get the guy in the open and throw it to him and away they'd go. To me, he was one of the greatest defenceman to ever play."

Born in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, Pavelich's hockey career began in Galt, Ontario. The left winger played three seasons of junior hockey with the Galt Red Wings where he recorded back-to-back 22-goal seasons before joining the NHL's Red Wings for the 1947-48 campaign. In Galt he got to know Gordie Howe (teammate) and Red Kelly and Ted Lindsay (opponents with the St. Mikes Majors) very well. The foursome all went on to be a huge part of the Detroit hockey scene.

Pavelich split his first NHL season between the Red Wings and the Indianapolis Capitals of the American Hockey League. He then played his first full NHL season with Detroit in 1948-49, recording 26 points in 60 games. The following year Marty helped the Wings capture the Stanley Cup, his first of four, and he played in his first NHL All-Star game (In this era it was customary for the Stanley Cup champions to play against a league all star team for the All Star game).

Marty enjoyed the same success in 1952. Again he played in the league's All-Star game and he also helped lead the Wings to another league championship. That year he also set career-highs with 17 goals and 36 points.

Pavelich enjoyed similar success in 1954 and 1955. In both of those seasons, Marty played in the All-Star game and, more importantly, he helped the Wings to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories.

Marty played two more seasons with the Wings before deciding to hang up the blades after the 1956-57 campaign. Over his career with the Wings, Pavelich had amassed 93 goals, 159 assists and 252 points in 634 regular season games.

Following retirement he and Ted Lindsay got into the plastics industry, supplying the automotive industry.

Times have changed a lot in the NHL since Pavelich played. Despite being on 4 Stanley Cup champions, there was never such a thing as a Stanley Cup parade in Detroit in those days. So when the Wings finally won another Cup in the 1990s, they invited former Wings including Pavelich to be a part of the Stanley Cup parade. You have got to love an organization that cares about the history of the team.


Unknown 12:04 PM  

Pavelich has now retired to Big Sky, MT where he hosts vacationers. I rode up a liftline with him today, and he seems to be as a good a person as he was hockey player.

Anonymous,  5:04 PM  

I have reason to believe that Mary Pavlich was born in Parkhill, Ont, not Sault Ste. Marie as stated

Ann Higi Alden 7:36 AM  

Marty boarded in our home(the Higi's) when he played for the Indianapolis Caps. We truly enjoyed knowing him and watching him play hockey. Lee Fogolin lived with us also.

I would love to see him again but Big Sky, MT isn't on my travel list for now.

luke bing 9:06 AM  

Talked to him after church today what a great man and hockey player

Constance Stohler,  7:39 AM  

I go to Big Sky every year and am lucky enough to have met and made friends with Marty through friends of ours. We try to ski together at least one day every year. Watching Marty ski down the slopes is an absolutely beautiful sight. He is as graceful as a ballerina and is an absolute delight. He is now 84 and still as beautiful a skier as I am sure he was on skates. I wish I could have seen him play. He can out ski me any day and I am 25 years younger. It is a privilege to know Marty.

Constance Stohler,  9:54 AM  

I go to Big Sky every year and am lucky enough to have met and made friends with Marty through friends of ours. We try to ski together at least one day every year. Watching Marty ski down the slopes is an absolutely beautiful sight. He is as graceful as a ballerina and is an absolute delight. He is now 84 and still as beautiful a skier as I am sure he was on skates. I wish I could have seen him play. He can out ski me any day and I am 25 years younger. It is a privilege to know Marty.

Anonymous,  1:54 PM  

Used to be a client of mine when I landscaped in Big Sky. Wonderful man. Talked to him this weekend. Still going strong.

lynn 6:45 AM  

Marty was born in the Sault. His brother Matt was born in Parkhill, Ont. another Pavelich fun fact is Matt ran away from join the circus. No kidding.

Jamie Carr,  12:11 AM  

I just moved to Big Sky. I grew up In Michigan and I am a huge Wing's fan. I have heard that he is a really nice guy. It made me even more proud to be a fan:)

Dave T.,  8:32 AM  

When I was a kid in Detroit in the 50's and early 60's Marty Pavelich was our neighbor, 2 doors down, so naturally he was one of my boyhood heroes. My older brothers were polio victims and Marty brought other Wings players to see them in the hospital. He and his wife Jake were always very friendly and outgoing. We kids used to compete for mowing their lawn when Marty was out of town on business trips or vacations because they were the best tippers on the block. But usually Marty took care of his own yard, and he had the nicest lawn on the block. Marty would often have several other Wings players over for backyard barbecues and such in the summer and sometimes they would watch us little kids play street hockey out in front of the house, using a taped up tennis ball for a puck. Marty was particularly close friends with Gordie Howe (Howe's son Marty was named for Pavelich, according to my dad anyway) and one time Gordie taped up my hockey stick for me. That was quite a thrill for an 8 year old kid. Our families exchanged Christmas cards for years, but I lost track of Marty when Mom finally moved from Detroit in the 90's. I plan to be near Big Sky, MT this summer and I hope I can find Marty to share some old neighborhood memories. Quite a few Red Wings players lived in our little neighborhood back then. Alex Delvecchio and trainer Lefty Wilson lived a few blocks away and I was their Free Press paperboy for a few years. Howie Young, the "enforcer" lived a couple blocks north of us on the same street.

Brooke 11:15 AM  

I've been working my way through a three foot high bin of letters, articles and photos from my dad's era as sports photographer at the Detroit News. Have just found photos of our times at Marty Pavlich's cottage at Goulais Bay in Canada. Some of the best times we had in my childhood.

Brooke 11:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 11:09 AM  

I don't know if Marty gets to see these comments. I hope so. I saw his comments in the Free Press today and hope our cosmic energy brings the Wings home a winner tonite.
I skied with Marty many times at Boyne and competed with Lindsay-Pavelich as a manufacturers rep at Chrysler. He is one of the all time great guys. My wife Cindy and I have recently moved to North Carolina. Would love to hear from him.

Unknown 12:01 PM  

I met Mr. Pavlich in Hawaii in 2002 where his step son, "Drew" Hofley and I were stationed as Marines together. He was like listening to a time machine tell about the organization back when I was born. The stories of the locker room banter and such was priceless. I will never forget that evening.

Anonymous,  9:54 PM  

I met Marty in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Never could you meet a more humble human. I hope you are well my friend.

Unknown 6:40 AM  

I too met Marty at Big Sky on the lift!! Out on the slopes by himself at the age of 89!!
Being a huge hockey fan all my life I felt I was in the presence of royalty. I told him my idol as a kid was Bobby Orr. He said, Yeah, Bobby's a nice young man. He's got so many cool stories. Hope he's in good health. Would love to run into him again.

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