Leo Boivin, one of the hardest-hitting defensemen in the NHL throughout the 1950s and ’60s, and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, has died. He was 89.
Boivin, born on Aug. 2, 1932, in Prescott, Ontario, saw his first NHL action when he played two games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1951-52. He became a regular with Toronto in 1952-53 but was traded to the Boston Bruins on Nov. 9, 1954.
He spent the next 12 seasons with the Bruins, earning the reputation as a stay-at-home defenseman who delivered hard checks despite a lack of size (5-foot-8, 183 pounds). His specialty was the hip check, a move he used to send more than a few opponents flying.
“I learned the hip check in my junior days,” he said in June 1986. “It was something I was good at and kept working on. It’s mainly timing, and I got to really enjoy it. Besides, it was a good way to stay in the National Hockey League.”
Boivin was captain of the Bruins from 1963-66, and was traded to the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 16, 1966. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft, was traded to the Minnesota North Stars midway through the 1968-69 season, and retired following the 1969-70 season. Boivin finished his NHL career with 322 points (72 goals, 250 assists) in 1,150 games through 19 seasons and 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 54 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He remained active in hockey for many years after his retirement as a player, mostly as a scout, although he twice coached the St. Louis Blues for brief stints. He spent a decade with the Blues, then moved on to the Hartford Whalers before retiring in 1993.
Boivin’s proficiency with the hip check helped him earn induction to the Hall of Fame in 1986.