Lou Jankowski as an Oshawa General.
June 27, 1931|
Regina, SK, CAN
|Died||March 21, 2010
Clearwater, FL, USA
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)|
|Played for||Chicago Black Hawks
Detroit Red Wings
Louis Casimer Jankowski (June 27, 1931 – March 21, 2010) was a Canadian professional ice hockey forward and scout who played 130 games in the NHL and had a prolific career in the WHL. He was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and died in Clearwater, Florida.
Louis Casimer Jankowski was born on June 27, 1931, at Regina, Saskatchewan as the fourth of six sons to a strong Catholic mother, Anna Jankowski. Anna and her husband with three sons had immigrated to Canada in 1927 from Świdnik, Poland. The family moved to Hamilton, Ontario after older brothers Ben and Tony had jumped aboard a cargo train to end up in Sudbury, Ontario where they landed work at a smelter. Later, they heard about a place called Hamilton which was booming. They made their way to Hamilton and eventually landed with the Canadian Navy.
Ben and Tony wrote a letter to their mother to tell her how great everything was in Hamilton. Mother Anna in return stated "Be ready, I am coming with your three younger brothers..." Ben and Tony replied "Don't come here yet, we don't have a place for you to stay!" yet shortly thereafter, mother Anna appeared in Hamilton with her three young sons and the family had to be hidden amongst the military barracks living in the staff house until Anna could afford to rent a room. She found a floor of a triplex to rent and raised six boys as a single mother who used to make dinner for her boys during her lunch break of a twelve-hour shift at a munitions factory, yet loved doing it. The boys ate extra helpings of potatoes to gain enough weight for their respective pursuits. Lou, also a gifted baseball player, was offered a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, but realized there were 13 Jankowskis in their system and thought little of his chances. His grandson, Mark Jankowski, was drafted in the first round, 21st overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Lou's first wife Helen Kelly was the sister of Hall of Famer Red Kelly.
Lou attended high school in Hamilton, Ontario, where he excelled at baseball and football. But his love of hockey began on Cootes Paradise in Hamilton. Living in lean times, Lou and his younger brother John Jankowski found a pair of ice skates. Each took one and thus each learned to skate with only one skate each. At age 16, Lou helped the Hamilton Aerovox hockey team claim the Sutherland Cup as Ontario Junior B champions in 1948. He scored five goals and four assists in nine playoff games with players up to two years his senior.
Lou spent three seasons playing for the Oshawa Generals of the OHA. In his final campaign as a junior, he was placed on a line with stylish centreman Alex Delvecchio, of Fort William, Ontario. (now Thunder Bay). Their potent offence earned the duo a reputation as the “payoff pair” for the Generals.
Mr. Delvecchio, a future star, was seen as a playmaker, while Lou, his goal-scoring linemate was heralded by sportswriters as the “hat-trick kid,” as so often did he score three goals in a game. Delvecchio at centre averaged a goal per game, while Lou (at right-wing) led the league with 65 goals in 1950–51, winning the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy in his final junior year for having the highest point total in a single season with 124 and crafted a stellar reputation as a sharp-shooting forward with a gentlemanly demeanor.
Both forwards earned one-game tryouts with the Detroit Red Wings near the end of the 1950–51 season. Alex Delvecchio did not score a point, while Lou Jankowski recorded an assist and had a goal disallowed. Lou asked the referee "Why didn't you call it a goal?", to which the referee replied "I couldn't see the puck." and Lou replied "That's because it was in the net!" Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay assisted on Lou's first NHL goal. Yet, it was Mr. Delvecchio who would go on to enjoy a brilliant, 23-season NHL career, all with the Detroit Red Wings, on his way to being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
At the end of Lou's junior career, the high-scoring forward finished second in voting for the Albert (Red) Tilson Memorial Trophy as Ontario junior hockey’s “most valuable and gentlemanly” player. The coveted award, donated by the Globe and Mail in honour of a star junior player who had been killed in action during the Second World War, went to Glenn Hall, a goaltender who would also go on to enjoy a Hockey Hall of Fame career.
A solid athlete at 6-feet, 180-pounds, Mr. Jankowski was a versatile forward capable of handling assignments at centre, or on either wing. Lou was known to be one of the fastest skaters in the world. When asked how this came to be in his senior years, Lou said with no hesitation and that gleam in his eye "I did every conceivable leg exercise."
After the single playoff game and back with the Indianapolis Capitols of the AHL, Lou suffered a serious injury, fracturing his skull on the ice which placed him in hospital for three months. This was a horrendous injury which may have had a permanent effect. After a year, he at last got a longer tryout with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings centering a line with Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay at times. Detroit had built a dynasty and the rookie forward suffered from a lack of ice time, managing only a goal and two assists in limited action in 22 games.
In the summer of 1953, Mr. Jankowski and two other players were sold to the Chicago Black Hawks, moving from hockey’s penthouse to the basement. The Hawks suffered on the ice and at the gate. Mr. Jankowski displayed some of his scoring touch, notching 15 goals in 68 games and a high defensive rating despite limited playing time as the season wore on.
He broke a bone in his big toe in training camp in 1954. After recovering, his output tailed off and he was demoted to the minors with the Buffalo Bisons. When describing the demotion, Lou said; "They told me I was being sent down for seasoning. Well, 14 years later, I was still being seasoned!" with a laugh. He had played 127 NHL games (with 19 goals and 18 assists and just 15 minutes in penalties), but his NHL career was at an end. He spent the following 14 seasons in the minors, which certainly would have been the pros had there been more than six teams in the NHL.
In 1958, he joined the Calgary Stampeders of the WHL, quickly establishing himself as the circuit’s top marksman. He led the league in goals in his first three seasons, including a spectacular 57-goal performance in the 1960-61 season. The record-setting tally earned him most-valuable player honours, including a cheque for $500 from a sponsoring liquor company. With the Calgary Stampeders he was named to the WHL All-Star Team 4 times (1959, 1960, 1961 and 1963) and won the Leader Cup as the WHL's Most Valuable Player in 1961. He again led the league in goals with 41 for the Denver Invaders in 1963-64, the same campaign in which he won the Fred J. Hume Cup as most gentlemanly player. He later skated for the Victoria Maple Leafs, Phoenix Roadrunners, Denver Spurs, and Amarillo Wranglers, for whom he was a playing coach.
Hanging up his skates after 18 professional seasons, Mr. Jankowski could not stay away from the hockey rink and began a lengthy career as a scout in 1972 with the St. Louis Blues. He also prowled the back roads looking for talent for the Washington Capitals, the NHL Central Scouting Bureau and the New York Rangers, for whom he was employed for 15 years, based in Calgary, Alberta. “We don’t encourage a kid leaving school to play in the pros,” Mr. Jankowski told the local Morning Advocate newspaper. “Our team has the philosophy of letting them get their education. We don’t interfere with the boy’s education at all.”
Lou Jankowski retired from the New York Rangers organization in 1993 and continued to live with his wife Roseanna between Calgary and Florida until his death in 2010. Lou became a regular at home games of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was known to regale press-box regulars with tales about the rough-and-tumble days of pro hockey, when the top league had only six teams, none farther south than New York City. One could always find Lou in a rink, from minor hockey to the NHL, he was a mainstay in the game even while travelling. His passion for the game was noted by all of those he touched. After his death, a moment of silence was held in his memory before the puck was dropped for a game pitting the Tampa Bay Lightning against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes March 23, 2010. The hockey world had lost one of its most gentlemanly and astute sons.
Lou's passion for hockey was shared with his family. A son, Ryan Jankowski, is currently an amateur scout with the Montreal Canadiens and previously served as the Assistant General Manager of the New York Islanders, where he was responsible for drafting Josh Bailey and John Tavares, among others. His other son, Len Jankowski, was a talented hockey player in the NCAA for Cornell University during the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Daughter Kathy Jankowski-Slegers-Professional Skating Coach also heavily involved in hockey & powerskating in Ontario.
Awards and achievements
- Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy (OHA/OHL Leading Scorer) (1950–51)
- WHL Prairie Division First All-Star Team (1959)
- WHL First All-Star Team (1960, 1961, 1964)
- Leader Cup (MVP - WHL) (1961)
- WHL Second All-Star Team (1962)
- Fred J. Hume Cup (Most Gentlemanly Player - WHL) (1964)
- OHA - Most points in one season (65G, 59A, 124P in 54 games)
- WHL - Most goals in one season (57G in 69 games)
|1947–48||16||Hamilton Aerovox||OHA - B||?||?||?||?||?||9||5||4||9||2|
|1950–51||19||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||1||0||1||1||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|1952–53||21||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||22||1||2||3||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|1953–54||22||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||68||15||13||28||7||-||-||-||-||-|
|1954–55||23||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||36||3||2||5||8||-||-||-||-||-|
|1964–65||33||Victoria Maple Leafs||WHL||69||30||27||57||16||12||3||2||5||2|
|1965–66||34||Victoria Maple Leafs||WHL||68||32||32||64||10||14||4||2||6||8|
|1966–67||35||Victoria Maple Leafs||WHL||67||22||37||59||4||—||—||—||—||—|