Bush was always known for his smart dress behind the Hamilton
bench. Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Spectator.
Red Wings coach brought professionalism and Memorial Cup
When Hamilton Red Wings owner Ken Soble hired Eddie Bush as the
club’s coach in 1960, the former NHL defenseman was given
a free hand with the team, both on and off the ice.
And Bush, who
was born in Collingwood in 1918, built the Junior A team into a
professional franchise with a lot of class.
He also coached the
team to its first national title, the Memorial Cup, in 1962.
his Red Wings were on the ice, fans packed the arenas, whether
at home in the Forum or on the road. Fans knew they would see some
solid colorful hockey, along with the dapper Bush behind the bench
calling the shots.
Bush was instrumental in changing the makeup
of the Red Wings, both visually and in competition. One of the
first things that occurred when he took over was to present the
players with an updated image. Gone were the somewhat drab orange
and black uniforms of the Tiger Cubs, replaced with the red and
white uniforms similar to the then-parent Detroit Red Wings.
you worked for Mr. Soble and Syd Bibby, everything was first class,” noted
Bush in an interview in 1970. “They
didn’t cut corners.”
Bush was known as a taskmaster
and a strict disciplinarian, but his style of coaching netted results,
even though he was criticized about his coaching methods.
Bush was a strong proponent in teaching fundamental hockey.
Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Spectator.
a lot of guff,” he said about not keeping
abreast of the times. “Fundamentals in hockey never change.
Neither has the handling of players. When a kid gets as far as
junior A he’s only one step away from the pros. If he can
produce under a strict junior coach, he’s ready to take the
Bush started playing hockey with the Guelph Indians
in OHA Junior play in 1936. During the 1938-39 season he played
with Pittsburgh and Kansas City, but also went to the show, playing
eight games with the Detroit Red Wings. He played throughout the
years of World War II while also serving, and then played for the
American Hockey League clubs, including the Philadelphia Rockets,
the Providence Reds, and the Cleveland Barons.
By 1950 he was behind
the bench coaching, starting with his hometown Collingwood Shipbuilders
in Senior OHA. He also coached for the Guelph Biltmores before
coming to Hamilton.
With the exception of two years, Bush coached
the Red Wings during the 1960s. But when Nick Durbano bought the
franchise in 1970, Bush was not part of the new regime.
was a matter of economics,” noted Durbano at the
time, who assumed the general manager’s position of the club.
took the news as a professional, always putting the team first.
I had known this was coming, I wouldn’t have changed
so many players last December,” he was quoted as saying in
March of 1970. “Instead I was rebuilding for the future,
and, right now, I would say the Red Wings are going to be in the
Memorial Cup in the next two years. The sad part of it is that
I won’t be around.”
Bush continued to coach after his
exit from Hamilton, including a 32-game stint for the 1975-76 season
as head coach with the Kansas City Scouts of the NHL. The Scouts
later became the Colorado Rockies and then the New Jersey Devils.
died in 1984 at age 65, and will be remembered as a coach who had
the ability to teach the game.
Pit Martin, one of the stars of the
Red Wings in the early 1960s with others such as Paul Henderson,
Lowell MacDonald, and Wayne Rivers, got right to the point about
the teaching abilities of Bush:
“I never learned a thing after
I left you,” Martin