William "Wild Bill" Ezinicki, who won three Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs during an 11-year NHL career, has died at the age of 88.
The Winnipeg native, who became a professional golfer after retiring from the NHL in 1955, died Thursday.
Ezinicki, a right wing, got his first taste of the NHL when he played eight games with the Leafs in 1944-45. He split the following season between Toronto and the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL before joining the Leafs full-time in 1946-47, when he had 17 goals and 37 points as Toronto won the first of three consecutive Stanley Cups.
Although he weighed just 170 pounds, Ezinicki had the reputation of being one of the NHL's best bodycheckers -- earning his nickname in the process. But he also contributed offensively, with 11 goals in 1947-48 and 13 -- along with 145 penalty minutes -- in 1948-49 as the Leafs became the first team to win three straight Stanley Cups.
After dropping to 10 goals and 22 points for the Leafs in 1949-50, Ezinicki joined the Boston Bruins for two seasons. His final NHL action came when he played 16 games for the New York Rangers in 1954-55. He finished his career with 79 goals, 184 points and 713 penalty minutes in 368 games.
Ezinicki then went on to a successful professional golfing career, winning two New England PGA titles (1956 and 1958). He was also the head pro at the International in Bolton, Mass.
"He was one of the most talented athletes I've ever seen," retired Boston Herald sportswriter Jack Mahoney, who knew Ezinicki from the golf beat, told the paper. "He was one of the hardest workers in golf and just a great guy. He’d do anything for you."
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