Bun Cook

Most of Fred "Bun" Cook's Hall of Fame career was spent in the shadows of his two line mates. Playing left wing on perhaps the greatest line in NHL history, Bun teamed with his brother Bill on right wing and Frank Boucher at center to dominate the NHL throughout the 1930s.

Bun started his career by joining his brother out west in the WCHL. He quickly gained a reputation as a hard nosed goal scorer, and the NHL soon took notice of both of the Cook brothers, who were playing with the legendary Nels Stewart while in Saskatchewan.

The WCHL collapsed after 1926 and the New York Rangers signed both of the Cooks. The Rangers were about to embark on their inaugural NHL season in 1926-27, and were desperately seeking some electrifying talent to steal some of the Broadway spotlight. The Cooks came in and quickly teamed with Frank Boucher to form what would arguably become the best forward unit for the next 10 years. In an era of dominant line combinations, none were better than "the Bread Line."

Historians often tried to compare the Bread Line's intricate passing offense to that of the Soviets several decades later. And none other than Frank Selke acknowledged Bun Cook as the key their attack.

"Men who would know credit Bunny Cook with the introduction of the passing attack," wrote Frank Selke. "The Cook-Boucher line introduced a style of attack completely their own — each member kept working into an open spot, passing the puck carefully and adequately and frequently pushing the puck into the open net after confusing the defensive force of the opposition. This was a repetition of lacrosse as played by the great Indian teams."

While Bill was known as the goal scorer and Boucher the playmaker, Bun was known as a bit of both. Many claim it was Bun who innovated the drop pass in the offensive zone. Some even suggest it was Cook who invented the slap shot.

A solid offensive contributor, Bun was a fan favorite in the old Madison Square Garden because of his hustling speed and reckless physical play. He was a bit of a celebrity, drawing praise from the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ed Sullivan

"When Bun Cook is hot, he is one of the most amazing players in hockey," wrote Sullivan. "At such moments, he attempts plays that stagger the imagination. At his peak, there is no player so enjoyable to watch."

By 1936, that reckless physical play caught up with Bun. Having developed a serious arthritic condition, Bun was forced to sit out the rest of the year. He attempted a comeback in 1936-37, but the Rangers didn't think he'd be able to contribute. They sold him to the Boston Bruins where he finished out his career. He was ineffective in 40 games with the B's as he battled the arthritis and a new ailment - a throat illness which eventually led to his retirement at the end of the year.

Through his NHL career, Bun Cook played 473 regular season NHL contests, scoring 158 goals, 144 assists and 302 points.

Bun turned to coaching at the AHL level where he found immediate success. He won the Calder Cup championship with the Providence Reds in 1938 and 1940. He then moved on to the Cleveland Barons where he won 5 league titles and then the EPHL before retiring in 1958.

Bun was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995, 7 years after he passed away.

So what about the nickname Bun? Where the heck did that come from? It makes most sense that it was a reference to his rabbit like quickness on skates - Bunny, shortened to Bun over time. However Fred's wife insists that Fred's brother Bill nicknamed him Bun as a kid because of his big nose. His short fuse carried over into his coaching days in the AHL where the media punned his name to "Hot Cross Bun" when he lost his temper.


Brian Moore,  7:00 AM  

The Cooks played with Newsy Lalonde in Saskatchewan, not Nels Stewart.

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