Harry Lumley was barely old enough to shave when he was signed by the Detroit Redwings at the age of fifteen. The goaltender for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey Association, Lumley didn’t let much get past him. But during his first appearance in the NHL he didn’t look like much. Called up from the Indianapolis Capitols of the American Hockey League, Lumley let in thirteen goals in two games. Most people excused the then seventeen year old, who wasn’t old enough to vote or cross the border without permission.
He played another half season in the AHL before earning a starting position with Detroit. What a rookie season he had, backstopping Detroit to within one game of the Stanley Cup! Over the next five years Lumley twice led the league in wins and games played, and had the most shutouts during regular season play in 1947-48.
The Stanley Cup
In 1950 Lumley won his only Stanley Cup. Detroit barely survived the loss of Gordie Howe to injury, and defeated Toronto in the semifinals. It was no small feat, as Toronto was the three-time defending champion and the team that had swept the Wings in two previous finals. The Wings faced New York in the final. Ironically, two games were played in Toronto, because the circus was in New York. In winning the Stanley Cup, Lumley recorded three shutouts and had a 1.85 goals against average.
Unfortunately, Lumley had suffered an injury at the end of the 1949-50 season, and a youngster named Terry Sawchuk played seven games for the Wings. Manager Jack Adams liked Sawchuk, so he traded Lumley to the worst team in the league just a week after the Wings’ Stanley Cup win.
He spent two years with the Blackhawks before being traded to the slumping Toronto. Lumley enjoyed his best individual seasons while in Toronto, winning the Vezina Trophy during the 1953-54 season. His 13 shutouts set a record that stood until Tony Esposito broke it in 1970.
Lumley was traded back to Chicago in 1956, but refused to sign with the struggling team. He played two years with the Buffalo Bisons of the AHL before being brought back to the NHL by the Boston Bruins. He stayed with the Bruins until his retirement in 1960.
Harry Lumley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980.