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Newmarket's Bill Thoms considered one of 'cleanest and most talented players' in 1930s' NHL

In this week's Remember This, History Hound Richard MacLeod recalls two early home-grown hockey heroes

Here is a promised continuation of my earlier article on Newmarket’s hockey legacy, specifically two of Newmarket’s least known but equally talented hockey products, William (Bill) David Thoms and Larry Molyneaux. 

Thoms was born in Newmarket on March 5, 1910.  He was one of Newmarket’s first professional players, the first to reach the NHL. Thoms was signed to a contract by the legendary Conn Smyth in 1932 to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. A centre, Thoms played for Toronto, Chicago and Boston in the NHL during his career.

He was a standout with our strong local junior squads of the time (see my article on our championship teams on Newmarket Today) and was instrumental in the many successes of Newmarket hockey. During the 1926-27 season his team advanced to the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) finals before being defeated by the team from Owen Sound. The next year they again reached the finals, this time losing to the Marlboros four games to three.

The next season Thoms moved over to the West Toronto team where he was to win the Memorial Cup.  He then moved up to the Toronto Marlboros Senior squad where he played two seasons before finally signing his professional contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

He spent some time with the Syracuse Chiefs of the American Hockey League before being promoted to the Leafs, never looking back.

According to his NHL profile, Thoms was considered one of the cleanest and most talented players of his time.

During the 1935-36 season, Thoms tied the great Charlie Conacher for the NHL goal-scoring; however, Conacher is recognized as the goal-scoring champion as he played in less games. After his retirement in 1945, Thoms briefly coached the Toronto Marlboros of the OHA but died of a heart attack on Boxing Day, 1964.

Thoms’ stats from

  • Centre – Shoots right
  • Born March 5, 1910, in Newmarket, Ontario 
  • Height 5’10”- Weight 168  [178 cm/76 kg] 
  • Professional Teams - 1931-33 Syracuse Stars (IHL), 1932-39 Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), 1938-45 Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), 1944-45 Boston Bruins (NHL)
  • NHL Totals Games 548, Goals 135, Assists 206 Totals 341 NHL Total

The other player that I wanted to highlight was a Sutton-born boy, Lawrence (Larry) Molyneaux who was born in 1912 and moved to Newmarket at the age of seven. They say he showed signs of his considerable athletic prowess as a youngster and he was to develop into a stalwart defenceman with the local Redmen teams from 1928 to 1932.

On two occasions, Molyneaux’s teams advanced to the OHA finals. He was noticed by Lester Patrick with the New York Rangers and was signed to a professional contract, in 1933, turning professional with the Springfield Indians.  

Two months later, he was called up to the big team in New York where he made his debut. It was decided that he needed more seasoning and so he was sent to the Quebec Beavers.  

At the beginning of the 1933-34 season, he was recalled to the New York Rangers but was eventually sent back to Quebec. Over the next few years, Molyneaux played with a variety of teams. In 1936, he headed off to Philadelphia where he was part of their Canadian-American championship team. He eventually returned to the defence of the New York Rangers for the 1938-39 season.

Some of the local star players Molyneaux played with on those magical Newmarket Junior teams of the 1920s and 1930s include: Herb Cain, Norm Mann, Don Willson, Red McArthur, Normie Woon, Pete Dillman, Sparky Vail and Frank Doran.  

When Molyneaux retired, he became a sales representative for the Canadian Schenley Organization.

Molyneaux’s stats from include:

  • Defence - shoots Right
  • Born July 9, 1912, in Sutton West, Ontario
  • Height 6.00 - Weight 214 [183 cm/97 kg]
  • Professional teams - 1932-33 Springfield Indians (CAHL), 1932-33 Quebec Beavers (CAHL), 1933-34 Quebec Beavers (CAHL), 1934-35 New Haven Eagles (CAHL), 1935-36 Philadelphia Ramblers (IAHL), 1936-37 Philadelphia Ramblers (IAHL), 1937-38 New York Rangers (NHL), 1937-38 Philadelphia Ramblers (IAHL), 1938-39 New York Rangers (NHL), 1938-39 Philadelphia Ramblers (IAHL), 1939-40 Cleveland Barons (AHL), 1940-41 Pittsburgh-Cleveland (AHL)
  • Professional Totals: NHL - Games 45, Assist 1 Minors – 17 Goals and 55 Assists

Over the years, the Newmarket area has provided a number of hockey players to both our Olympic team (see the Robert Forhan article) and to the NHL. Here is a brief listing of Newmarket’s home-grown NHL heroes:

Player                        Born             Games  Goals    Assists  Points

Connor McDavid         1997    F           407      195       379    574

Dit Clapper 1907 F   835 229   248    477

Herb Cain 1912   F   572 206   192   398

Jamie Macoun 1961   D 1128   76   282   358

Steve Downie 1987     F   434   76   120   196

Mike Kitchen 1956   D   474   12     62   74

Travis Dermott 1996   D   208   11     36   47

Darren Archibald 1990   F     55     6       8   14

Brian Elliott 1985   G   502     0     10   10

Jim 'Dutch' Cain 1902   D     61     4       1   5

Kurtis Gabriel 1993   F     49     2       3   5

Randy Legge 1945   D     12     0       2   2

Quinton Byfield 2002   F       6     0       1   1

Geoff Sarjeant 1969   G       8     0       1   1

Rob Zepp 1981   G     10     0       0   0

Dan Catenacci 1993   F     12     0       0   0

In the future, I hope to write articles on the history of Newmarket’s other sports, including cricket, lawn bowling, soccer, football, baseball and figure skating.

It is my hope that you will have discovered a new respect for the achievements of Thoms and Molyneaux. Currently Connor McDavid is the king of Newmarket’s hockey pride, but there was a day when names like Cain, Clapper, Thoms and Molyneaux were on the tongues of our local hockey faithful. It’s nice to remember them, too.

Sources: Newmarket Old Boys Booklet 1939; Website; The Newmarket Era; 


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About the Author: Richard MacLeod

Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for more than 40 years
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