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Another time a Saultite hoisted the Stanley Cup

Remembered as a strong competitor, a humble man, and also the Duke of Paducah, Joe Klukay hailed from Bay View
Joe Klukay - photo provided by the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library: 

Sault Ste. Marie has always had a reputation for being a hockey town so it is no wonder this city is able to produce NHL-caliber athletes.

One of these players was Joe Klukay born Nov. 6, 1922, in the Bay View area of Sault Ste. Marie. He began his path to a hockey career at the age of seven when a large group of kids would fill a Bay View rink and play from 8 in the morning until it started getting dark.

Klukay attended the ‘Tech’ (Sault Technical & Commercial High School) and played hockey under Ben Littner who helped Klukay understand the game. After his high school days at the Tech Klukay played with the Sault Rapids in Junior B hockey and then played for the Stratford Kroehlers in the Junior A division.

After the season with the Kroehlers, Klukay joined the Navy during WWII and upon his discharge from the Navy moved to Pittsburgh in 1945 to play in the American Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Hornets. After the 1946 season, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs where he played until the 1951-1952 season.

He would then be traded to Boston Bruins and after two years, Klukay was traded back to the Toronto Maple Leafs. During his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was part of the Stanley Cup-winning team in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951. Joe Klukay’s best season was with the Boston Bruins in the 1953-54 season when he scored 20 goals. However, in the 1955-1956 season, playing for the Pittsburgh Hornets would be his last in the NHL.

Starting in 1956, he played with the Windsor Bulldogs for eight seasons in the Ontario Hockey Association’s Senior League and won an Allan Cup in 1963 with that team. Klukay was inducted into the Sault Ste. Marie Hockey Hall Of Fame in 1966.

Klukay was known in the NHL as the Duke of Paducah, a nickname given to him by the Toronto Maple Leaf’s publicity Director. This was due in part, as Angelo Bumbacco explained, “He was always immaculate, always dressed to the nines”. Klukay moved to the Detroit area but returned to Sault Ste. Marie periodically to visit his family that remained in the Sault.

For the last 50 years of his life, he lived in Southfield, Michigan, which is a suburb of Detroit. Every month he would travel to a friend’s farm, Rakecky’s Farm in Curran just southwest of Alpena, Michigan.

Klukay passed away in 2006 at 83 from heart surgery complications at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oaks, Michigan.

Many had kind words or remembrances of the man they called Duke.

Ron Lay said, “He was just as good a hockey player that the Sault ever produced that I saw”.

He was remembered as a strong competitor but also a humble man. He was very active in charity work by helping form the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association and participated in many charity hockey games. His skill and personality make Sault Ste. Marie proud to call him one of their own.

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provide SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at and look for more "Remember This?" columns here.

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