Steve Kraftcheck was known as one of the smartest and steadiest defensemen in American Hockey League history. He joined the Cleveland Barons in 1949 and embarked on an AHL career that would see him become a perennial all-star.
After a stint with the Indianapolis Capitals and two seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Kraftcheck was re-acquired by the Barons in 1953 as part of a deal that sent goaltender Johnny Bower to Broadway. Back in Cleveland, Kraftcheck quickly became a fan favorite. His hard-hitting, rough-and-tumble style was a perfect fit for the blue-collar Barons, and he helped the club capture a Calder Cup championship in 1954. In 1957, Kraftcheck was voted a First Team AHL All-Star for the first time and capped the season by assisting on the Calder Cup-winning overtime goal as Cleveland took home the franchise’s eighth title.
Kraftcheck joined the Rochester Americans in 1958-59 and captured the inaugural Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman. A year later, he served as player/coach of the Amerks and led them to the Calder Cup Finals, highlighted by a historic comeback from 0-3 down to win their best-of-seven semifinal series against the Barons.
Kraftcheck finished his career with the Providence Reds, retiring in 1964 as the AHL’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 453 career points, a standard that stood for more than 40 years. He played in five AHL all-star games in the 1950’s and is one of three players in league history to have earned six consecutive nods to postseason all-star teams – four First Team and two Second Team selections.
A native of Tinturn, Ont., Kraftcheck passed away in 1997 at the age of 68.
|Career AHL Statistics – Steve Kraftcheck|