CLEAR THE TRACK: EDDIE SHACK, RIP


Eddie “the Entertainer” Shack, one of the NHL’s most colorful players, passed away Saturday. He was 83.

Shack joined the Penguins late in the 1971-72 season, staying through the next campaign. The winger was acquired by the Penguins from Buffalo on March 4, 1972.

The good news: Shack had 14 points in 13 games to help the Penguins sneak into the playoffs.

The bad news: The Penguins sent winger Rene Robert to Buffalo. Robert became part of one of the NHL’s most famous lines: “The French Connection” with Gilbert Perreault and Richard Martin.Robert had 702 points in 744 NHL games.

The expected news: Powerhouse Chicago swept the Penguins in those playoffs’ first round.(Current GM Jim Rutherford was the Pens' goaltender.)

Shack played 17 NHL seasons. He won four Stanley Cups with Toronto, including the Maple Leafs’ last in 1967.

Shack topped 20 goals on five occasions, each time with a different team. He scored 25 for the Penguins in 1972-73. 

But Shack’s entertainment value went far beyond stats.

There was a song about him in Toronto: “Clear the Track, Here Comes Shack.” Shack played a manic style. He skated fast, but with little rhyme or reason. He was larger than life. He sold cars and pop. He did commercials. He never learned to read and write as a kid. As an adult, he wrote a book. 

Shack to a teammate upon being handed a team notice: “Can you read this to me? I never got out of the fourth grade.” Teammate (keeping it light): “Shackie, how’d you get out of the third grade?” Shack: “I used to lend the teacher my car.”

Eddie Shack, RIP. He was one of hockey’s true originals.

Thumbnail courtesy of Getty Images