A trunk full of hockey memorabilia belonging to one of Nelson’s greatest players has been moved out of history’s dust bin to a display on Baker Street.
James (Shorty) Malacko kept the trunk filled with pictures, programs and postcards from his trip to Europe for the 1951 World Amateur Hockey Championships. Malacko passed away in 2016 at age 86, and his daughter Toni put the trunk in the care of local sports historian Bill McDonnell.
McDonnell was delighted with what he found.
“Shorty wasn’t one to puff himself up in a community, so it’s a really neat opportunity I think to share with this generation what it was like back in the earlier eras when I was younger and playing hockey,” he said.
Malacko was a defenceman who played for the Nelson Maple Leafs senior team from 1954 to 1965, during which he helped the team win two BC championships and one Western Canadian title along with an appearance in an Allan Cup final.
Prior to that, Malacko won a Western Canadian Championship with the Lethbridge Maple Leafs in 1950. That booked the team a ticket to the 1951 World Amateur Hockey Championships in Paris, which they won.
“Back in 1950 and into the 60s, Canadian championship club teams from the previous year would represent Canada on a European tour the subsequent year and then represent Canada at the world championship. It was that story that caught my attention,” said McDonnell.
Malacko took the trunk with him on that trip, which included a tour of wins that ended in a 51-7-4 record and a gold medal at the Sir Winston Churchill Cup Competition in London, England.
He ended up staying in England and finishing the season playing for the Harringay Racers, then went to coach the German Olympic team for a year in 1952.
The display, which is in the window of the Nelson Trading Company building on the 400 block of Baker Street, includes additional pictures and information from McDonnell.