Owen Sound, Ontario's Norm "Red" Armstrong was a
long time minor leaguer. He was an excellent AHL player, but it was his love of
the physical game that earned him his cup of coffee in the National Hockey
On December 15th, 1962 Red Armstrong was called up for his first NHL game. The Leafs were looking for some added truculence with Bobby Baun and Bob Nevin out of the lineup with injuries.
Now I do not know if this is factual or just myth, but there is a story out there that Armstrong had trouble getting on the ice for his first shift. As the story goes, the first time coach Punch Imlach called for him to go out, he called for "Red" and Red Kelly jumped out instead. The next shift Imlach called out "Armstrong" and captain George Armstrong jumped out. The anxious rookie could only watch from the bench.
What I do know for sure is that when Red Armstrong finally did make it out on the ice, he made sure he was noticed. On his first shift he scored a goal!
Armstrong would play a total of 7 games with the Leafs that season before returning to the minor leagues. He would go on to become one of the most popular players in Rochester Americans history, playing 9 full seasons. In 1985 the Amerks even retired Armstrong's jersey #6.
Armstrong worked the summers as a steelworker. After retiring from the Amerks in 1973 he immediately took his lunch bucket and punch card back to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario where he worked for the Algoma Steel plant. A year later he would die on the job after losing his balance and falling from a great height. He was just 35 years old.