Defenceman Art Hodgins turned down a chance to play in the NHL with Detroit Red Wings. Instead, after World War Two he decided to leave Canada for Scotland where his parents were born. In Britain he was a constant member of the annual All-Star teams and he holds the unique distinction of being voted Rookie of the Year in two different seasons in two different leagues.
In his first season, Hodgins helped Paisley Pirates win the Scottish Autumn Cup and Scottish Cup In 1946-47 with a performance so impressive that the readers of Ice Hockey World voted him the best performing first year player in the Scottish National League.
After a second season in Scotland and two All-Star ‘A’ team places, he was invited south of the border by coach Red Stapleford where his similarly outstanding play with Streatham in his first English National League campaign earned him his second Rookie award.
During his six seasons at Streatham, they won two league titles and two Autumn Cups, and he was selected to four All-Star squads, two ‘A’ and two ‘B’.
When Streatham temporarily closed its doors to the sport at the end of 1953-54, he and several teammates crossed London to join Harringay Racers in the new British National League. Racers won the league and Autumn Cup double in the first of his two campaigns and he earned All-Star ‘A’ honours again.
Misfortune struck 18 months later when he was sidelined by a recurring sinus ailment. Although far from fit, he helped Brighton Tigers to the league crown in 1957-58. It wasn’t until the 1959-60 season that he fully recovered, and he was the key blueliner with Nottingham Panthers when they captured the league play-offs and earned himself yet another All-Star berth, this time on the ‘B’ side.
With the collapse of the British League at the end of that winter, games became fewer and he concentrated on his full-time job with a soap manufacturer and later at Boots the Chemists’ head office in Nottingham, where he settled down.
Nevertheless, he accepted an offer from Ken Bailey, manager of the ambitious new Altrincham Aces, to become their player-coach during the early months of 1961. A year later he signed a lucrative late season contract with Milan in Italy. Here he earned the admiring nickname of ‘Il Leone’, the Lion, when on one occasion he returned to the ice only five minutes after having his nose broken by an errant stick.
When Wembley Arena welcomed hockey back in the winter of 1963-64, he was part of a veteran Lions squad that won two tournaments, while he picked up his ninth and last All-Star team place. He and the Lions spent their final years together until the team folded for good in the middle of the 1968-69 campaign.
Art was a master of the well-timed body-check. A defensive defenceman, standing five-feet, 11-inches tall and weighing 198lbs, he possessed a powerful and accurate shot from the blue-line. A formidable opponent on the ice, he was a gentleman off it and an intelligent conversationalist.
During his career he played 659 games, scoring 262 points (86 goals) and was assessed 665 penalty minutes.
Arthur Stanley Hodgins was born on 17 November 1927 in Timmins, Ontario and died on 11 March 1988 in Nottingham, England. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.