Sault Legends: “Newsy” Lalonde

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Inducted into the Sault Ste. Marie Hall of fame, known as one of the top 100 hockey players of all time and one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time, it’s hard to believe this legend spend time playing hockey in the Sault before moving on to bigger things.

Edouard Charles Lalonde was born on October 31, 1888 in the eastern Ontario town of Cornwall. “My family came from Cornwall, Ontario, where I was born, and we didn’t have much money,” he told Stan and Shirley Fischler in their book, ‘Heroes & History’. “My father owned a small shoe store while my mother took care of the house.”

While other boys were out skating during the winter, no such option was available to Lalonde. “I didn’t get my first pair of skates until my thirteenth birthday. We didn’t have a rink in our neighbourhood so we played wherever there was ice — the street, the pond, whatever.”

As a teenager, Edouard worked at the Cornwall Freeholder newspaper, where he earned the nickname that followed him throughout his life — ‘Newsy.’

Although he had started later than his peers, Newsy developed quickly, and by 1903, was playing junior with the Cornwall Victorias.

From the 1905-06 season, where he played with a senior team in Woodstock, Ontario, Newsy began a journey that took him all over the hockey map.

“I really started to get good and by the time I was eighteen, a couple of men asked me if I wanted to become a professional hockey player.” That request was eagerly accepted, and in 1906-07, he joined the Canadian Soo Algonquins in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, earning $50 a week as a member of the International Hockey League, the first openly professional league.

“I was given a pair of rugby pants, a shirt that was too long, some stockings that looked a dozen years old and skates that would fit an elephant.”

That same season, Lalonde was a member of the Cobalt Silver Kings of the Temiskaming Professional Hockey League (TPHL). In 1907-08, Newsy led the Ontario Professional Hockey League in scoring, with 32 goals scored for the Toronto Pros, but also played for the Portage Plains Cities of the Manitoba Hockey League and joined Haileybury for the TPHL playoffs.

The next season, while scoring 29 goals for the Toronto Pros, he led the TPHL with 79 penalty minutes.

He started in Montreal in 1909-10.

On March 17, 1910, Newsy enjoyed the finest single game of his glorious career.

“I scored 9 goals during a game in Renfrew. We were playing against Cobalt and beat them 17-2. I was playing centre at the time and Cyclone Taylor was rover.” In spite of Renfrew’s best efforts, the Montreal Wanderers captured the Stanley Cup that spring.

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On the lacrosse front, after coming west in 1909 as a hired-hand with the Regina Capitals to compete against the New Westminster Salmonbellies in their challenge for the Minto Cup, playing as a defenseman, Lalonde then decided to remain in British Columbia with the Vancouver Lacrosse Club for the 1909 season.

In 1911, Vancouver Lacrosse Club president Con Jones offered him a fortune of a contract rumoured in the range of $3,500 (or $72,000 in modern currency); this was more than double what he was earning with the Montréal Nationals the previous season. To compete against that perennial powerhouse squad of legends and hated rivals, New Westminster Salmonbellies, Con Jones went out and bought the best player in Canada that money could buy: ‘Newsy’ Lalonde.

The rest is well known for history of hockey and lacrosse. There is so much to say.

The talented Lalonde finished his hockey playing career as the greatest goal scorer of his era, scoring 345 times in 292 regular season games in the NHA/NHL.