Lawrence Thomas "The Pope" Popein (born August 11, 1930) is a retired professional ice hockey player and coach.
Popein began his career with the Moose Jaw Canucks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He then signed with the Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League. During his playing time with this organization, he developed a special affinity for British Columbia's largest city.
In 1954, Popein's contract was acquired by the New York Rangers and he began his National Hockey League career. Although a relatively small skater at 5 ft 9 in, 170 lbs, Popein developed as a reputation as a stoic, fearless, hard-working player who was a solid body checker and a skilled passer. He was the quiet centre on a powerful line that included Andy Bathgate and Dean Prentice. Early in the 1960-61 season, after six years as a Rangers starter, Popein was returned to the Canucks. He would briefly return to the NHL during the 1967-68 season, as expansion allowed many veterans to crack the lineups of fledgling teams, with Popein spending one year with the Oakland Seals.
Upon retiring from the ice, Popein entered coaching. He served as the bench boss of the Omaha Knights of the Central Hockey League, then as an assistant coach with the Rangers; he briefly was the interim head coach of this club during the 1973-74 season. The next year, Popein became director of player development of the new NHL incarnation of the Vancouver Canucks. After a clean sweep of the Vancouver front office, Popein took a job with the Calgary Flames in 1986, serving as a scout until his 1992 retirement.
In the 2009 book 100 Ranger Greats, the authors ranked Popein at No. 91 all-time of the 901 New York Rangers who had played during the team's first 82 seasons.
New York Rangers
3rd in East
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