One of Cranbrook's most illustrious, yet most unsung, hockey players has passed away.
Ray Martyniuk played for the Cranbrook Royals of the WIHL, and had the distinction of being the fifth player chosen in the first round of the NHL draft of 1970.
Martyniuk passed away in Panama, where he had moved following his retirement.
A goaltender for the Flin Flon Bombers, Martyniuk was chosen in the first round by the Canadiens in 1970.
However, “Marty” lost the goalie job to a guy named Ken Dryden and was assigned to the American Hockey League by Canadiens G.M. Sammy Pollock.
Thus began a long career in hockey’s minor leagues — Seattle, Kansas City, the Baltimore Clippers, the Oklahoma City Blazers, Columbus, Springfield, Salt Lake City, Tucson, and finally, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ray then “retired” from the Montreal organization so he could get his amateur card with Cranbrook, after playing with Ron “Spike” Huston in Salt Lake City (Ron was a terrific player for Cranbrook in the 1960s, and still lives here).
Marty was a fiery competitor on the ice, and once scrapped with his Royal defenseman Bobby Craig after a “puck miscommunication.”
Martyniuk had a long career with Coca Cola as a technician in Cranbrook, servicing the dining establishments, where everyone was happy to see him come in with his tool bag.
Ray and Judy Martyniuk started the Lefty Righty Tournament at the Cranbrook Golf Club in 1987 with 50 entrants, and it soon blossomed to be a big success. The tournament ultimately raised more than $600,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society and other charities during the 25 years the event was held.
Kenny Holland, current General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings, was a close friend of Ray’s (and a fellow goalie) and played in the Lefty Righty frequently. Holland has always donated signed Detroit Red Wings jerseys and NHL memorabilia for the silent auction.
Ray and his late wife Judy were world travellers, and Panama was their favourite spot.
As Rick “Rocky” Allen, General Manager of the Kimberley Dynamiters, said this week: “Ray Martyniuk is a guy that the hockey community is certainly going to miss. I know that I will.”