Monday

Hy Buller

At one point it looked liked Hy Buller would be a career minor leaguer.

Having graduated from the junior leagues for the 1943-44 season but needed seasoning in the minors. Because of War time shortages of players, Buller did get promoted to play in 9 games with the Detroit Red Wings. But if it wasn't for the war, one would have to wonder if Buller ever would have gotten an NHL shot.

After his short stint in the NHL, Buller did not reappear in the NHL until 1951. In the meantime Buller established himself as one of the all time greats in the American Hockey League, first with Hershey and then more so with Cleveland from 1948-1951. In those 3 1/2 seasons with the Barons, t he "Blue Line Blaster" was a two time all star and posted some great statistics. For instance, in what proved to be his final season in the AHL he scored 16 goals in 57 points in 66 games. Those are mind-boggling numbers for a defenseman in 1950!

The Cleveland Barons were very reluctant to let Buller go, but they were desperate for some funds. So they effectively sold Buller and another future long time NHLer Wally Hergesheimer for a host of minor leaguers plus an undisclosed amount cash to the New York Rangers.

Buller teamed with Allan Stanley to form an immediately effective blue line tandem. Buller had a heck of a "rookie" season in New York. He was a second team all star scoring 12 goals and 35 points in 68 games. He was also twice named player of the week by The Hockey News, while he finished a close second to Boom Boom Geoffrion in Calder Trophy balloting for rookie of the year..

Buller was not an aggressive defenseman, which drew comparisons to the great Bill Quackenbush.

"Sure, I'd like to see him crack (the opposition)," said his Rangers coach Frank Boucher. "But you can't have everything. Bill Quackenbush doesn't hit them either, and he's quite a defenseman. They're both exceptional stick checkers, fine stickhandlers and rushers. Buller, like Quackenbush, is very good on point in power players. He has our best shot from the blue line and can it away without a windup. The most noticeable thing about Buller is his coolness and quick thinking under fire. He'll adapt himself to any situation."

That was quite a word of recommendation from one of the all time greats! Unfortunately for Buller, his wonderful season was just that - one season. He tailed off considerably the following year, perhaps due to his advanced age. Remember he spent almost a full decade in the minors before becoming a NHL rookie..

By the following season the Rangers farmed out Buller to the Saskatoon Quakers of the WHL. His NHL rights were traded to his hometown Montreal Canadiens in the summer of 1954, but the deal was later reversed as Buller opted to retire instead of reporting to camp, as he felt he would just end up in the Habs WHL farm team in Victoria BC.

6 comments:

Anonymous,  8:46 PM  

I don't think this is a very accurate or reliable article. Buller stopped playing because he had cancer which he died from.

Joe Pelletier 8:49 PM  

Buller was diagnosed with cancer in 1965, more than a decade after he retired as an active hockey player.

Brooke Buller,  6:41 PM  

As Hy's granddaughter, I had always heard that he ended his career because he was ready to settle down with his family instead of being traded and moving again and again. Also, hockey players did not make a fraction of what they make now, and he wanted to wanted to provide a more stable income and lifestyle for his family. I also read another article which said that anti-Semitism may have played a role (I have never heard this "theory") However, I will ask my grandmother when I see her tomorrow to tell me the true story.

Anonymous,  10:49 AM  

Hy Buller and his family lived near me in Cleveland. I was in the Cub Scouts and went to school with one of his sons. Mr. Buller would take us skating and to Barons hockey games. We'd play hockey using the Northland sticks , with player's names, that he brought home.
Hy Buller was a very fine human being , great to us kids, a class act, and I have fond memories of those times.

Anonymous,  7:44 PM  

My nephew is married to Mr. Buller's granddaugter. I have had many conversations with his son and have been told a little of all of the above. Although, he did not have cancer when he retired and he mainly did not want to uproot his family.

Dr. Mxyztplk,  6:39 PM  

Hy Buller was a fine gentleman, as well as a fine NHL defenseman. I was fortunate to have known this kind ex-Ranger blueliner in Cleveland. In his final season in New York, he was the top point scoring Ranger defenseman. Traded after the 53-54 season to Montreal Canadiens, his decision to retire may have been related to the strong corps of defenders there (Doug Harvey, Butch Bouchard, Tom Johnson and Dollard St. Laurent were holdovers to be in 54-55 training camp).

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