Toronto Marlboros

A.J. “Buck” Houle

A.J. "Buck" Houle
A.J. “Buck” Houle

“Buck” Houle truly was a Marlboro pioneer. As a member of the 1931-1932 Marlboro Bantam championship team Buck went on to play for the Midget and Junior “B” teams before being called to serve in Conn Smythe’s famed 30th Battalion in World War II.

Upon returning to Canada in 1948 he along with Smythe’s son, Stafford, were given the task of building a strong local feeder system for the Maple Leafs through the Marlboro minor and Junior “A” teams. The Leafs had no Toronto born players on their roster at the time. Buck started his post playing career when he was appointed coach of the Marlboros Junior “B” team in the 1947-1948 season.

After several successful seasons in the organization as a coach Buck turned his efforts towards management and in the early 1960’s was appointed General Manager of the Junior “A” Marlboros and put together a string of extremely competitive teams culminating with a Memorial Cup championship in the 1963-1964 season.

Billed as one of the greatest Junior teams of all time the club produced future Leafs Ron Ellis, Jim McKenny, Peter Stemkowski, Brit Selby and Wayne Carleton.

In the 1966-1967 season Buck was promoted to his first pro posting as General Manager of the Leafs Western Pro League team, the Victoria Maple Leafs.

“Buck” would spend a total of 35 years as a coach, manager and scout with the Marlboro and Leafs organizations and was directly responsible for the development of some of the club’s most legendary stars.

In the 1974-1975 season Buck was hired as General Manager of the new World Hockey Association franchise in Ottawa that moved to Toronto after that initial season to become the Toronto Toros.

Upon retiring from hockey Buck opened a very successful family printing business. The success of that business did not come as a surprise to anyone who had crossed his path during his life in hockey.