Never a flashy scorer or high-profile superstar, Jim Bartlett spent a majority of his 21-year professional career in the American Hockey League and was one of the most consistent performers of his era.
Nicknamed “Rocky” for his feisty style of play, Bartlett debuted in the NHL with his hometown Montreal Canadiens in 1955 and then made his first AHL appearance with Providence the following season, racking up 28 goals and 110 penalty minutes in 50 games and helping the Reds to the 1956 Calder Cup championship. It would be the first of a dozen 20-goal seasons for Bartlett in the American League.
Bartlett would spend five up-and-down seasons between the AHL and the New York Rangers, and on Jan. 5, 1958, he tied an AHL record when he scored two goals in a span of just five seconds against Rochester and goaltender Gerry McNeil; the mark still stands six decades later. In 1959-60, Bartlett played most of the year in the NHL but averaged a point per game for the Springfield Indians in the postseason en route to another Calder Cup.
Bartlett played the entire 1960-61 campaign with the Boston Bruins, his final taste of the NHL before spending most of the next 12 years exclusively in the AHL. Returning to Providence, he set career highs with 31 goals in 1961-62 and 66 points in 1962-63, famously playing on the “B” Line with Stan Baliuk and Pierre Brillant. And although his career was nearly ended by an errant stick to the eye, he came back and led the Reds in scoring in 1964-65.
Bartlett joined the Baltimore Clippers in 1966 and became a member of the AHL’s exclusive 300-goal club in 1970. He made one more trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 1972, and retired in 1973 following a 24-goal season at the age of 40.
Bartlett played 955 regular-season games in his AHL career, good for 10th on the league’s all-time list. He ranks ninth with 360 goals and 21st with 742 points.