A Future NHLer at 3 1/2

Famous as he is for all the NHL records he set, Wayne Gretzky is almost as famous for the fact that he’s been famous since he was 10 years old. Sidney Crosby is said to have given his first newspaper interview when he was just seven.

Gretzky began skating at the age of two, and Crosby at three. The backyard rink in Brantford, Ontario, where Gretzky practiced as he grew up, and the basement dryer Crosby would shoot at in the family home in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, are both a part of hockey lore now … but neither of them was featured on the cover of a Canadian national magazine when they were only 3 1/2. So, does anyone recognize this future NHL player?

Ken Cover

To help me pass the time during my recent recuperation, my wife Barbara bought up a whole bunch of Weekend Magazine issues dating from 1959 to 1963 at a local antiques/collectibles store. They’re pretty great! The little guy in question appeared on the cover on February 24, 1962.

Growing up in Kingston, Ontario, his father was a Senior A hockey player and youth coach from Toronto and his mother was a strong skater from Montreal. He began attending his father’s games at the age of three months, and by his first birthday in August of 1959, he was “chasing around the living room with a cut-down hockey stick,” says writer Bill Trent in the story that appeared on page 23 of the magazine.

Ken Basement

Come the winter of 1959–60, the toddler took to the ice on bobskates. The following winter, when he was 2 1/2, he was skating on tube skates. When the weather didn’t permit for going outside, there was a rink in the basement. “Well, it’s really a make-believe rink,” explained Trent, “with linoleum for ice and a packing case for a players bench. And [boy’s name] has to be careful not to go banging up against the washing machine. But when he faces off at the blue line, it’s almost as good as the real thing.”

So, who is it? Check out the hockey card below…

Ken Rat

Ken Linseman played 14 seasons in the NHL with Philadelphia, Edmonton, Boston and Toronto from 1978 to 1992. He was no Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby, but “The Rat” (who was called that, it seems, in equal parts for his facial features, his hunched-forward skating style, and his ability to agitate) had some pretty good offensive seasons. He had a career total of 256 goals and 551 assists (807 points) in 860 regular-season games and won the Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1984.

11 thoughts on “A Future NHLer at 3 1/2

  1. Arrrggg… couldn’t stand The Rat. One of those guys you’d love to have on your team though. Many more have followed… Darcy Tucker, Galligher…

  2. He looked like he had blond hair so that was in my mind’s eye…then there was the Hab’s sweater…then I’m thinking he had to be a future ‘star’ or at LEAST a very good player…All-Star or close to it.
    I did some math and keeping in mind the above factors (Blond hair and born and/or raised in Quebec, Eastern Ontario or the Maritimes).
    I ran players through my mind who fit and would have had their ‘rookie’ years somewhere from ’77 to ’82. Rookie candidates who fit the time-frame and at least one of the other criteria were Ray Bourque, Michel Goulet, Mike Bossy…Raymond and Michel DEFINITELY did not have anywhere near blond hair and I just couldn’t relate the kid in the picture with Mike Bossy.
    It the hit me that I should include future European stars….maybe it was a ‘human-interest’ story that a traveling Canadian photographer/journalist developed when they saw a Swedish or Finish lad in his favourite NHL team sweater ‘over-there’ and the Habs had pretty strong international fame. Soooo….I’m now thinking of Jari Kurri and Mats Naslund…NOW the blond hair fit although Naslund’s was curly in my mind but the ‘kid’ actually bore a resemblance to a young Jari Kurri. By jove, I think, I’m onto something!
    THEN I scrolled down a bit further…KINGSTON!?!?!?!?!? (So much for Jari Kurri!), but immediately names flew into head….Gilmour, Muller, Cashman, Linesman, Arniel….but only ONE came anywhere close to the time-frame so it had to be The Rat!
    “D’oh!”…and he was such a cute little kid! LOL!

    GREAT piece!

    1. Wow, Tosh! Looks like you took the challenge A LOT more seriously than anyone else!
      (And who saw The Rat last night after the game in Edmonton, out on the ice, and then being interviewed, among a ton of old Oilers players at the closing of Northlands/Rexall? Only now, he’s completely bald!)

  3. I remember Ken Linseman! I had NO idea he was skating from such a young age!
    And I laughed at the vision of Sidney Crosby shooting pucks into the dryer…that is ‘forward thinking’ at its’ finest!
    Sherri-Ellen T-D.

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