Stephen S. Kraftcheck (March 3, 1929 – August 10, 1997) was a Canadian ice hockey defenceman and coach, born in Tinturn, Ontario. His first National Hockey League (NHL) season was 1950–51, where he played 27 games for the Boston Bruins; 5 of these were in the playoffs versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that year. The next two seasons Kraftcheck played with the New York Rangers (1951-1953), netting 10 goals and 18 assists. After this stint, Kraftcheck remained a perennial all-star, but in the American Hockey League (AHL). The only other ice-time he saw in the NHL was for 8 games during the 1958–59 season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kraftcheck played 13 productive seasons in the AHL, where he scored 73 goals and added 417 assists. In two separate seasons, Kraftcheck scored 41 assists, and during three other seasons he scored 37.
Kraftcheck also held the head coach/player role during 3 seasons for the Rochester Americans (1958-1961). His team made the playoffs two of these years, with Kraftcheck remaining an integral presence on the ice. In 1959–60, his Rochester Americans were defeated in the Calder Cup finals by the Springfield Indians. Of his 3 coaching years, this was the only season Kraftcheck was the head coach for the entire year.
He also played in 5 AHL All-Star games throughout the 1950s. He was posthumously inducted to the AHL Hall of Fame in 2008. Kraftcheck was the first recipient of the Eddie Shore Award, awarded to the player chosen as the AHL's best defenceman.
During his AHL career, Kraftcheck also played for the Cleveland Barons, Indianapolis Capitals, and the Providence Reds.
By Dean Hanley
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