Pentti Lund, first Finnish-born player to score an NHL goal, dies at 87

TORONTO – Pentti Lund, the first Finnish-born player to score a goal in the NHL and a former rookie of the year, has died at age 87.

Lund died in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ont., the New York Rangers announced Wednesday on their team website. Lund won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in the 1948-49 season and helped the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup final one year later.

Born on Dec. 6, 1925, in Karijoki, Finland, Lund moved with his family to the Thunder Bay area when he was six years old.

He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War before joining the Boston Bruins’ organization. He made his NHL debut with the Bruins in the 1947-48 season, appearing in two playoff games.

The Bruins sent Lund to the Rangers in the off-season as part of future considerations from a previous trade. He scored 14 goals and added 16 assists in 59 games with New York en route to winning rookie of the year honours.

Lund became the second Finnish-born player to play in an NHL game since Albert Pudas played four games (no points) with Toronto in the 1926-27 season.

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The next season, Lund led New York with 11 points in 12 games as the Rangers upset Montreal and advanced to the Stanley Cup final, where they lost Game 7 in double overtime to the Detroit Red Wings.

Lund suffered a serious eye injury from a high stick in the 1950-51 season, his last with the Rangers. He spent the following two seasons with Boston before retiring after just five seasons.

Lund had 44 goals and 55 assists over 259 career games.

After retiring, Lund began a successful career as a hockey writer with the Fort William Times-Journal. He later served as the sports editor of the Thunder Bay Times-News.

Lund has been inducted into both the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and the Finnish Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated Lund was the first Finn to play in the NHL. In fact, he was predated by Toronto’s Albert Pudas.