Garry Young was Kingston's pipeline to the Boston Bruins
In the late 1960s it seemed that there was a direct line for talented Kingston hockey players to the powerful Boston Bruins. Kingston scout Garry Young was the man who drew that line, helping many aspiring pros to get their start and playing a key role in the Bruins Stanley Cup victory in 1970.
Following the Stanley Cup win, that fall seven Kingston players attended the Boston training camp in London, Ontario. In the photo at front: Fred O'Donnell and Hugh Harvey. At back: Dick Cherry, Jim Adair, Wayne Cashman, Garry Young, Rick Smith and Ron Plumb.
Cashman, speaking over the phone from his home in Florida, recalls that Young was his coach as a youngster in the Church Athletic League. He guided the Kingston midget team to an Ontario championship in 1961.
How did a coach from small-town Ontario get the dream job of scouting for the Bruins?
Cashman says Wren Blair deserves the credit. Best known in Kingston as a former owner of the present-day Kingston Frontenacs, Blair coached the Frontenacs in their final season of the Eastern Professional Hockey League in 1962-63.
As a scout for the Bruins, Blair famously signed 14-year-old Bobby Orr to the Bruins-sponsored Oshawa Generals Junior team in 1962.
While he was in Oshawa and Kingston, Blair noticed the up-and-coming coach Garry Young and helped him get hired as a scout for Boston. For Cashman, the Garry Young connection spelled opportunity. After playing midget in Kingston, he joined the Generals to play with Orr and eventually made it to the Bruins, winning his first Stanley Cup in 1970. The moment is immortalized in the famous photo of Orr flying through the air after scoring the cup-winning goal to give the Bruins a 4-0 series sweep over St. Louis.
“I remember having lunch with Garry after we won the cup,” Cashman recalls. “We talked about how far we’d come. Here we were two guys from Kingston and both of us were Stanley Cup champions. He was a big part of it.”
Young was an outstanding scout. “He understood people and had a solid knowledge of the game. He was good at identifying talent and putting people in the right position,” Cashman says.
With support and guidance from Garry Young, Kingston’s Ron Plumb was signed by the Bruins just after the 1970 Stanley Cup victory.
That fall Plumb, Fred O’Donnell, and Hugh Harvey piled into an old car and headed to London, Ontario, for training camp.
Plumb remembers being in awe the first time he stepped on the ice. “All of a sudden you’re down there passing the puck to Esposito, Orr and all the other stars on the Stanley Cup winning team.”
As a defenceman, Plumb realized that he was in tough competition for a place on the team – Orr was the greatest defenceman the game had ever seen. “These were the legends of the game and had just won the Stanley Cup. They’re not going to make a lot of changes.” While he did not play for the Bruins, Plumb enjoyed a successful WHA career.
Fred O’Donnell credits Garry Young with guiding him towards professional hockey. He had enrolled in Commerce at Queen’s and was about to give up on the sport. “Garry took a chance on me. He rejuvenated my interest in hockey.” O’Donnell went on to play two seasons with the Bruins and two with the New England Whalers, before returning to Kingston to coach at Queen’s and for the Kingston Canadians.
Young was later promoted to chief scout and director of player personnel with Boston. In 1971, he became General Manager of the California Golden Seals and subsequently coached the St. Louis Blues.
Garry Young died in a boating accident in 1994. Today, he is remembered every year when the Greater Kingston AAA Hockey Association honours its volunteer of the year by handing out the Garry Young Award. This year it was won by Kathy Ralph.