One such skater was Eddie Kachur, who preformed admirably for over 25 years, from his early days locally, right up to the National Hockey League.
Playing four seasons at right wing for his hometown Fort William Columbus Canadiens side, he wrapped his time there helping them win a Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League crown in 1953.
The campaign previously the Westfort Hurricane-Rangers added Kachur as a pick-up, where he tallied four times in a run that saw them advance all the way to Abbott Cup western final, before eventually falling to the Regina Pats.
Still in his teens, the crafty forward opted to turn pro and signed on with the IHL’s Cincinnati Mohawks in 1953.
Solid in his debut, Kachur paced all rookies on the club in offensive production with 58 points and tied for second-spot overall in goals with 32.
More success came in the playoffs as Cincinnati went on to win the Turner Cup, emblematic of IHL champions.
Next for Kachur came a four-year stint with the Shawinigan Cataracts, where he won a third playoff title in succession as Shawinigan hoisted the Thomas O’Connell Memorial Trophy as Quebec Hockey League winners.
His play caught the eye of the Chicago Blackhawks and saw him make his NHL debut on October 11, 1956 in a road contest at Detroit.
He eventually notched his first NHL goal at the Montreal Forum on January 26, 1957 where he scored on Jacques Plante in a 4-4 tie with the Habs, against a stellar line-up featuring the likes of Jean Beliveau, Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Henri Richard, Doug Harvey and Plante.
In all, Kachur appeared in 96 “Original 6” NHL games in Chicago, scoring 10 times and assisting on 14 others.
From there he was AHL-bound and spent four of the next six seasons with the Buffalo Bisons.
Once again, his arrival in Buffalo was just the tonic the Bisons needed in 1962-63 as they went on to win the Calder Cup league crown.
In between his time there, a stop with the Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds in the old Eastern Professional Hockey League almost saw Kachur’s magic touch come to fruition once more.
Finishing second in team scoring and pacing the Soo in assists, they finished tied for second in league play.
They them went on to clip the Kingston Frontenacs, in five games, in semifinal action, before falling short in the final against the first place Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, who were guided by legendary general manager Sam Pollock, in a best-of-seven affair that went the distance.
The Los Angeles Blades (WHL) secured his services for 22 outings in 1964-65, however the AHL beckoned once more and saw him round out the decade as a member of the Providence Reds.
Having previously collected all-star nods in the QHL and EPHL, Kachur earned AHL 1st All-Star Team selection in 1967-68 with the Reds.
That season his 47 goals led all players in the league, which was three more than Bobby Hull bagged to lead the NHL in that category with the Blackhawks.
Ever-popular in Providence, he picked up over 250 points with the team and went on to be enshrined in the Providence hockey wing of the Rhode Island Reds Hall of Fame in 1973.
Returning home in early 1971, he took over as a player-coach of the Thunder Bay Twins senior side.
While there were no playoffs in the United States Hockey League that first year the Twins played there, under Kachur’s guidance they produced a solid run on the Allan Cup trail.
There, Thunder Bay roared back from the two-games-to-none hole to knock of the Soo Canadians before being ousted by the eventual Allan Cup-winning Galt (Cambridge) Hornets.
Retiring a year later, following time with the Johnstown Jets (EHL), he appeared in 1,168 games overall and amassed just shy of 900 points, including 484 tallies.
Those numbers provided plenty to go with his multiple championships and all-star laurels.
An honoured inductee in the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, Eddie Kachur was a proven winner in most of the stops he made in the lengthy career, and rightfully earned his place on the list of the Lakehead’s hockey elite.