Les StrongmanWhen it comes to Panthers legends, Les is arguably the ultimate figure.  He was a player from the day the club was formed and remained involved with the team into the modern era.

Born in Winnipeg in 1924, left-winger Les played his junior hockey in Saskatoon and had trials with the Detroit Red Wings.  After serving in the Canadian Air Force and working as a policeman, he decided to give European hockey a try.  He arrived from Canada to join the inaugural Nottingham Panthers line up in the 1946-47 season and quickly made an impact, averaging a point a game.  His points output increased from the following season alongside prolific new line mate Chick Zamick.  In total, Les played eleven seasons for the Panthers, five of them as Captain, and also had spells with rivals Wembley Lions and in Switzerland and Sweden, where he had his first taste of coaching.  In 1950-51, Strongman was voted onto the all-star team and captained the Panthers to their first ever trophy, the English National League title, a feat the team repeated under his captaincy in 1953-54. 

After broadening his experiences in Wembley and Europe in the mid-1950s, Les returned to the Panthers towards the end of the decade, and was still an important member of the team when the club folded in 1960. 

After a gap of twenty years, the Panthers were re-formed by Gary Keward in 1980.  Looking around for a coach, Keward found Les Strongman, who had settled in Nottingham after his playing days were over, running a newsagent’s shop almost opposite the ice stadium.  The former hero agreed to coach the reformed team in its early days, even making one appearance on the ice in an end of season challenge game that first year (at least I got to see him play once!).  Even when his tenure as Panthers coach ended, Les continued his association with Nottingham hockey, serving on the club’s committee for a number of years and coaching the second team Trojans and later the junior Cougars, who benefited from his vast experience until he returned to Canada just a few years ago. 

In total, Les made 508 appearances for the Panthers and recorded 733 points (402+331) with 330 PIMs.

Profile written by Ian Braisby

 

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12 Responses to “Les Strongman”


  1. 1 Stewart December 10, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I remember him at Wembley Lions, he was awesome

  2. 2 Ken Abbott April 14, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I remember Les from the late nineties, he’d owned a Newsagents across from the Ice Stadium (Parliament Street News,I think it was called), sold it off but was brought back by the landlords when the guy who Les’d sold it to “did a runner” and Les was forced to return to for fill the last few years of the contract.
    Fortunately I was able to do a deal with the landlords, turned the shop into “the Hockey Shop” and Les was realised from the lease.
    A very, very nice man, the last time I heard he’d recovered from a major operation and was about to return home to Winnipeg.

  3. 3 professor wink (@winkwilson) August 27, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    LES & I played together in NOTTS in 1958-59.He was my rock at the time.I had been sent over by the Detroit Red Wings for the season, & Les helped me get over my relagation to NOTTS.His wife was so wonderful too.As a single guy,with his sweetie in nursing in Kingston,Les took an interest in my play.Even played on his line & that helped.But most of all,he was an immaculate,respected player who set the model for me in my future period.A special wish would be for Brock & Jordy to know this panter HERO. MR WINK

  4. 4 Ken Yeatman June 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I well remember Les from the early fifties,he really was a great player. Back in those days the players never wore helmets like they do today, Les was the only one who used to wear a leather type one I dont know if there was a reason for this,injury maybe. Watching Les & Chick Zamick, George Orb ect what wonderful times

  5. 6 george cockerill August 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Les was not the only one to wear a helmet. Johnny oxley of brighton Tigers wore a similar one. Sadly, the helmets they wear now makes them largely anonymous.

  6. 7 Richard Craine January 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I bet my Dad has met Les Strongman!!

    He was telling me the other day that he’d practiced with the Panthers during or just after the 2nd World War. Apparently he was very good friends with some guy called Dick Halverson, who was the Panthers netminder at the time.

    He tells me a story that Nottingham played a game against some cocky American GI’s who thought they would blow away the poor Brits. He reckons they got the shock of their lives as the Panthers players battered them all over the ice.

    Apparently the Yanks came off the ice black and blue.

    My Dad a Panthers supporter…..I’m not going to live this one down. 😦

    Regards

    Doom

  7. 8 Charlotte Strongman November 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Hey guys. I’m Les’s granddaughter, although I’ve never met him (long story). Does anyone know if he’s still alive? Or have a contact email address for him? I’d love to get in touch before it’s too late, as he must be 90 now? Thanks very much.


  1. 1 Les Strongman, Chick Zamick, Gary Keward. | Where the Puck Stops! Trackback on October 24, 2013 at 11:50 am
  2. 2 Les Strongman, Chick Zamick, Gary Keward. Randall Weber, | On the ice ( UK and European Hockey) Trackback on November 20, 2015 at 9:06 pm
  3. 3 Les Strongman, Chick Zamick, Gary Keward. Randall Weber, | Drop The Puck Trackback on December 5, 2015 at 12:27 pm

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