Sands was an early hockey star

Charlie Sands was a Stanley Cup champion with the Boston Bruins and played in the first-ever NHL All-Star Game. Photo: NHL.com

LOOKING back, the names of those stellar hockey players from the northern shores of Lake Superior may have differed over all these may years, but one common trait remains firmly in place with so many of them – Talent.

One such individual, who was a stalwart back in the day, was Charlie Sands.

A diminutive, yet crafty, forward, Sands played in the senior ranks with both Fort William and Port Arthur in the late 1920s, early ‘30s and had a knack for putting the puck in the net from the onset.

His efforts locally draw interest from the scouts eyeing talent and saw him signed to a three-year deal by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the spring of 1932.

Sent to the Syracuse Stars of the International Hockey League for some professional seasoning at first, Sands supplied 10 tallies, and assisted on five others, in 37 outings before getting the call up to the big club.

His NHL debut on March 18, 1933 saw him set-up a pair of markers, including the deciding effort in a 6-2 triumph over the original version of the Ottawa Senators.

Eight months later, as a full-time member of the Toronto line-up, Sands notched his initial NHL goal, which proved to the winner, and later added an insurance effort in a 4-1 decision versus Ottawa at Maple Leaf Gardens.

In February of that season, Sands appeared in the first-ever NHL All-Star Game as the Leafs took on a select squad made up of the premier players from other teams in the league.

One of those was fellow Lakehead product Jimmy Ward, who at the time, was a member of the Montreal Maroons.

For Sands though, his time in Toronto was limited to just 48 games as he ended up being dealt to the Boston Bruins in a cash transaction.

The change of scenery proved to be beneficial for him and while rushing up the ice with the Bruins’ version of ‘The Kid Line,’ of he, Bill Cowley and Ray Getliffe, he became extremely popular with the Boston Garden faithful.

Finishing among the teams’ top point producers for much of his stay, Sands was part of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup-winning side in 1939.
In all he dressed in 211 games in Boston, picking up over 100 points in his time there.

After that he was traded by the Bruins in November of ’39, getting moved to the Montreal Canadiens.

His opening year with the Habs saw him provide 29 points in 47 games, including netting nine goals.

Another interesting part of that season saw him called upon by Canadiens’ head coach Pit Lepine to go in net after Montreal starter Wilf Cude was felled with an injury midway through a road meeting against the Chicago Blackhawks on February of 1940.

Down 5-0 at the time, Sands allowed another five to get past him in 25 minutes of work in an eventual 10-1 drubbing by the Hawks in his one and only appearance as an NHL goaltender.

After four years with the Canadiens, his time there came to a conclusion when he was among a group of four players loaned to the New York Rangers for perennial point-getter Phil Watson.

Following nine final NHL appearances on Broadway, Sands headed west to conclude his playing career in the Los Angeles area while competing in the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

In all, he appeared in 427 games in the NHL, while notching 99 markers, of which 16 were game-winning efforts, and chipping in with 109 assists.

Earning induction into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame back in 1991, Charlie Sands is one of those from the Lakehead that continually showed his mettle on the ice.