Pat Hannigan

This is Pat Hannigan as pictured on the 1961-62 Topps hockey card #58.

On the back the hockey card czars describe Hannigan as a "chunky right wing" who was "buzz-saw in the corners, not afraid to mix it with the big guys. Pat has the moxie and the good shot to worry opposition."

Hannigan was from Timmins, Ontario. Brothers Gordie and Ray played in the NHL, too. All took turns with the nickname Hopalong Hannigan, although it was Gordie who was best known by that moniker.

Hannigan was a proud star of the St. Michaels Majors junior team. Conn Smythe very much wanted to sign Hannigan for his Toronto Maple Leafs. He eventually got Hannigan's signature on the dotted line, although he did it rather unconventionally.

The story goes like this: Hannigan was refusing to sign with the Leafs so Smythe flew Pat's father down from Timmins to persuade him. Smythe told Mr. Hannigan that his "idiot son" should sign with the Leafs. Well, as hard as it may be to believe, that did not go over very well. The senior Hannigan stood up and angrily stated "I didn't raise any idiot sons" and left!

Pat eventually did sign with the Maple leafs, making his debut just before Christmas 1959. That would be his only game he would ever play for Toronto. The Leafs traded him and Johnny Wilson to the Rangers for Eddie Shack the next year.

Hannigan, utilized as a checking winger, did play the better parts of 1961 and 1962 with the Rangers but ultimately he was destined for many more years in the minor leagues. He played in Baltimore, Portland and Buffalo before the NHL expanded to 12 teams in 1967.

"It was a lot of fun, even in the minors. Though travelling by bus was hard. Hockey was very competitive then and with only six teams, it was hard to get up to the NHL and harder to stick. I made the first all- star team when I played in the Western League and the first all-star team when I played in the American League but that didn't seem to help me stick in the NHL."

Hanning was taken by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1967 expansion draft.His greatest thrill came when he was with the Flyers.

"My dad and mom came down and it was the first time they had ever seen me play in the NHL. I guess I got lucky because I scored two goals against Chicago and set up the winner and was picked the first star of the game."

Hannigan played in 72 games with the Flyers over 2 seasons before returning to bounce around the minor leagues until 1971. In 182 career NHL games Hannigan scored 30 goals and 69 points.

Long after he left the ice Pat found work for a beer distributor in Buffalo. But he always remained close to hockey. For a time he also served as a color commentator on Buffalo Sabres telecasts.

Hannigan later moved to be Fort Erie, Ontario where initially he started his own company which sold telephone systems, eventually selling it to a larger competitor. He later found the most rewarding work of his life when he worked at a safehouse for refugees to Canada.

Pat Hannigan died of a rare intestinal infection on December 11th, 2007. He was 71 years old.


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