Yesterday, the Leafs signed a college kid named Spencer Abbott. I know rather little about him other than the fact that he’s not very tall (so he’s more Costello than Abbott already), so all I can really say is that I hope he’s more Tyler Bozak than Brayden Irwin. (I’m not going near Adam Oates or Martin St. Louis.) Also, given that he’s somewhat short, I hope he’s really, really fast.
After the news was announced, I read in at least four separate places the quip about “Where’s Costello?”
Well, as it turns out, we’ve already had a couple Costellos in Toronto. People just (sometimes mercifully) forget.
The first Costello was Les, eventually Father Les (not fatherless). Les Costello was a St. Mike’s grad who then apprenticed with the Leafs’ farm club in Pittsburgh. He scored 32 goals there as a 19-year-old in ’47-48 and was rewarded with a callup to the Leafs during the 1948 Cup run. In five playoff games, he scored two goals and added two assists.
He saw some regular-season action in 1948-49, scoring two more goals and adding three assists in his 15 games. He spent the balance of the season and all of the next one back in Pittsburgh. Two Leaf games in the 1950 NHL playoffs were the last he’d play.
After the 1949-50 season ended, Les, just 21, decided instead to follow his other calling and joined the priesthood. As Father Les Costello, he served for many years in the Timmins/South Porcupine area where he’d grown up. He was also well-known for playing hockey with a team called the Flying Fathers. At age 74 in 2002, he was hit by a puck at a Flying Fathers game and died not long afterwards. 2200 people came to his funeral in Timmins.
(See Joe Pelletier for a longer writeup)
The other Costello was Rich, a Flyers prospect who was traded to the Leafs in 1982. Rich had been drafted in the second round by Philly in 1981. An American who’d put up big numbers in high school and had a single season of junior B in Canada with a team in Pickering, he had promise but was pretty unproven. At the time of the trade, he was a freshman at Providence.
Rich came to the Leafs with a second-rounder the Leafs used to draft Peter Ihnacak, who was pretty decent when he was healthy, and a player-to-be-named-later (Ken Strong, one of just a handful of Streetsville Derby alumni to see NHL action).
Costello played 10 games with the Leafs in ’83-84, scoring two goals and an assist and was a -5. He got into two more in ’85-86, picking up one more assist. Beyond that, he was a Leaf farmhand for parts of four years, scoring 40 points in his best AHL season.
Lots of prospects don’t pan out, so Rich can’t particularly be blamed for that. Rich Costello just stands out because of the person who went the other way in that trade with Philly:
We shall never speak of this again.