By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter! @andrewlindrothh
Murray Costello was born on February 24th, 1934, in South Porcupine, Ontario, Canada. He began playing juniors as a 16-year-old forward for the St. Michael’s Majors (OHA-Jr.), suiting up for the team from 1950-1953. During those years, Costello produced 64 goals and 134 points in 152 appearances. After graduating, the forward inked his first professional hockey deal with the Chicago Blackhawks following consistent performances in juniors.
After signing his first contract in 1953, the 6’3, 190-pound centremen was assigned to play for Chicago’s minor-league affiliate in the American Hockey League, the Hershey Bears (AHL). He would play just 27 games with the club, putting up seven goals and 20 points before getting promoted to the National Hockey League to suit up for the Chicago Blackhawks. Costello finished the 1953-1954 season playing in 40 games and notching five points.
After his rookie season, the 20-year-old would eventually be traded on October 4th, 1954, right before the 1954 season. Costello was traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for player Frank Martin. He ended up showing vast improvement in his overall game and earned his full-time spot in the line-up with the Bruins as a bottom-six forward. That season, the forward went on to play in 54 contests, potting four goals and 15 points with 25 PIM.
The following season, the Bruins felt Costello molded well with his different linemates on the grinding forward lines and extended his contract for another year. But, his tenure in Boston would be cut short as he would go on to competing in 41 more games as a Bruin, contributing six goals and 12 points, before being traded on January 17th, 1956. The Boston Bruins traded Costello and Lorne Ferguson to the Detroit Red Wings, sending players Real Chevrefis and Jerry Toppazzini to Boston.
After not fitting in Boston’s system, Costello had another opportunity to stay in the NHL with the Red Wings but failed to register a point in the final 25 games of the 1956 season. The Red Wings decided they needed a larger sample size from Costello’s play and kept the forward on the roster for the following season. Unfortunately, he would appear in just three contests in 1957 before being sent down to their minor-league affiliate in the Western Hockey League, the Edmonton Flyers (WHL). Costello finished the remainder of the season with a statline of 19-26-45 in 65 games before officially retiring from playing professional hockey.
Costello explains he felt that he had the necessary skills to continue playing in the NHL, but not “the mindset to be an NHL player, the way they sacrificed their bodies.” Although his professional playing career did not pan out the way he hoped, he ended up becoming a prominent figure in the hockey community for decades.
After his professional playing career, Costello completed his bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Arts) at the Assumption University in 1959 while playing hockey in the OHA-Sr. After graduating, he served as the marketing director for the Seattle Totems and did so for 15 years. After his 15 year tenure, he was named the publicity director for the entire Western Hockey League (WHL). Fast forward to 1979, Costello was eventually recruited as the first-ever paid staff to lead the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA). What was originally a five-year deal changed to a lifetime commitment for Costello.
Costello is the reason why the CAHA developed into the association that it stands for today. He also served a significant role in involving Women’s Hockey in Canada, helping them gain massive publicity that helped form Women’s Hockey in the Olympics. With his incredible work at expanding the game of hockey, especially in the United States, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005 as a ‘Builder.’ He eventually won one of the most prestigious awards created by the Hockey Hall of Fame, the ‘Wayne Gretzky International Award’ in 2012, which is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the growth of hockey in the United States.
Throughout his four-year tenure in the NHL, Costello suited up for 163 games, recording 13 goals and 32 points. While many may not recall Costello’s playing career, almost everyone in the hockey community will forever remember his contributions to the game. From all of us at Black N’ Gold, happy 87th birthday Murray Costello!