Patrick James "Whitey" Stapleton (born July 4, 1940) is a former Canadian ice hockey player. A defenceman, Stapleton played 15 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) and the World Hockey Association (WHA), most notably for the Chicago Black Hawks. He is the father of Mike Stapleton, who had a lengthy career in the NHL as well.
Stapleton played Junior B hockey with the Sarnia Legionnaires before spending two seasons with the St. Catharines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey Association, winning the Memorial Cup in 1960. With the Legionnaires he won two Western Jr. 'B' championships and one Sutherland Cup as an all-Ontario champion. Although he was a defenceman, he led the Legionnaires in scoring during his second season.
His first full season was with the Sault Thunderbirds of the Eastern Professional Hockey League in 1960–61. Stapleton had signed with the Chicago Black Hawks, but was claimed by the Boston Bruins in the intra-league draft in June 1961 and began his National Hockey League career with the Bruins in the 1961–62 season. The next year, he split his time between Bruins and their EPHL affiliate, the Kingston Frontenacs. Stapleton spent the next two years in the minor leagues, playing with the Portland Buckaroos of the Western Hockey League. He received the Hal Laycoe Cup as the WHL's top defenceman for the 1964–65 season.
Stapleton was briefly the property of the Toronto Maple Leafs in June 1965 as part of a trade with the Bruins, but he was left unprotected in the intra-league draft and was claimed the next day by the Chicago Black Hawks. Wearing number 7, he played some games with the Hawks' Central Hockey league affiliate, the St. Louis Braves, in 1965–66, but they would be the final minor league games of his career. Stapleton remained in the NHL for eight seasons with the Black Hawks, and was named Second Team All-Star three times (1966, 1971, and 1972). Stapleton played with the Black Hawks in the Stanley Cup finals in 1971 and 1973. His highest scoring season was 1969, where his 50 assists set a new NHL record for assists in a season by a defenceman (broken the next year by Bobby Orr).
Stapleton was a member of the Team Canada team at the Summit Series in 1972. During the tournament he was a +6 and was often paired with his Black Hawks teammate Bill White. Stapleton is the owner of the puck that was used by Paul Henderson to score the series-winning goal.
In 1973, Stapleton jumped from the NHL and signed a five-year deal with the Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association where he became player-coach, replacing Marcel Pronovost as coach. He was a WHA first-team all-star in 1974 and won the Dennis A. Murphy Trophy as the league's top defenceman in the 1973–74 season.
Stapleton again represented Canada in the 1974 Summit Series against the national team from the Soviet Union, this time as team captain, recording three assists in eight games. He was again player-coach of the Cougars in 1974–75, and the team struggled on the ice and financially. In December 1974, he and teammates Dave Dryden and Ralph Backstrom bought the troubled franchise. At the time, Stapleton also owned two small arenas in the Chicago area along with other business interests.
The Cougars folded after the 1974–75 season and Stapleton was claimed by the Indianapolis Racers, where he played for two seasons and was named a second-team all-star in 1976. When the Racers refused to honour his contract in 1977, Stapleton was transferred to the Cincinnati Stingers, where he played one season before retiring in 1978. Over his career, Stapleton scored 337 points in the NHL and 239 in the WHA.
Stapleton lives in Strathroy, Ontario and is a member of the advisory board of the Junior B Strathroy Rockets of the Western Ontario Junior Hockey League. He has a Strathroy and District Hockey Association award named after him.
In 2008, Stapleton brought the puck that Paul Henderson fired into the net to win the 1972 Summit Series with the Russians to a Sarnia Legionnaires game. He dropped it at a ceremonial faceoff being held to honour Legionnaire founder Tommy Norris. He told the Sarnia Observer that he had the puck on his stick when the buzzer sounded to end the series. He was about to shoot it down the ice when he suddenly paused and picked it up. In May 2010, Stapleton told the Toronto Sun that he will hang onto the puck until the 40th Anniversary of the Summit Series in 2012.
In 2005, he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame as a member of Team Canada in the 1972 Canada - USSR Summit Series. In 2010, he was elected as an inaugural inductee into the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame.
Regular season and playoffs
|1958–59||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA-Jr.||49||10||26||36||18||7||0||0||0||6|
|1959–60||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA-Jr.||47||12||35||47||83||17||5||12||17||32|
|1959–60||St. Catharines Teepees||M-Cup||—||—||—||—||—||14||5||9||14||37|
|1960–61||Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds||EPHL||59||5||43||48||22||12||1||8||9||2|
|1965–66||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||55||4||30||34||52||6||2||3||5||4|
|1965–66||St. Louis Braves||CPHL||14||2||4||6||6||—||—||—||—||—|
|1966–67||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||70||3||31||34||54||6||1||1||2||12|
|1967–68||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||67||4||34||38||34||11||0||4||4||4|
|1968–69||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||75||6||50||56||44||—||—||—||—||—|
|1969–70||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||49||4||38||42||28||—||—||—||—||—|
|1970–71||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||76||7||44||51||30||18||3||14||17||4|
|1971–72||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||78||3||38||41||47||8||2||2||4||4|
|1972–73||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||75||10||21||31||14||16||2||15||17||10|
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|Chicago Cougars||1973–74||78||38||35||5||81||4th in WHA East||Lost in Avco Cup Finals|
|Chicago Cougars||1974–75||70||30||47||1||61||3rd in WHA East||Missed playoffs|
|Indianapolis Racers||1978–79||25||5||18||2||12||7th in WHA||Team folded|