OHL Alumni Classics: Gilles Gratton

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Gratoony the Loony played with the Oshawa Generals for three Ontario Hockey League (OHA) seasons from 1969-70 to 1971-72. Between the pipes, the workload of Gilles Gratton increased each season from 26 games in his rookie season, to 47 in his second and 50 in his final year with the Generals.

gilles gratton oshawa generals toronto toros new york rangers
Gilles Gratton sporting his famous mask with the New York Rangers.

In 1971-72 with Oshawa, Gratton had a goals against average of 3.55 and five shutouts, earning him a Second Team All-Star selection. The performance of Gilles also caught the eye of the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo drafted Gratton in the fifth round of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, 69th overall. He would never play a game for the Sabres.

The World Hockey Association came calling in 1972-73 and Gratton answered. In the rebel league’s inaugural season, Gilles played 51 games for the Ottawa Nationals in their only season. He followed the franchise as they were relocated to Toronto and Gratton played the next two years with the Toronto Toros. It was with the Toros that Gratton’s legend grew when he supposedly refused to play a game because the Moon wasn’t in proper alignment with Jupiter.

The Buffalo Sabres sold the NHL rights to Gratton to the St. Louis Blues in 1975 and Gilles reported to the NHL team for the 1975-76 season. He played just six games with the Blues before wanting to return to the WHA. Perhaps, his desire to return to the Toros had something to do with his personality being much better suited for the zany ways of the World Hockey Association.

However, the Blues wouldn’t release him. Gilles did the only thing he could think of and retired from hockey. It was short-lived and Gratton was back in the NHL for the 1976-77 season with the New York Rangers. Gilles played 41 games with the Rangers, sharing the net with John Davidson, who played 39 games. Ironically, it was the spot left vacant by Davidson in St. Louis that Gratton was meant to fill the year before. According to Davidson, Gratton would often fake illness so that he wouldn’t have to play.

In 1977-78, the Rangers placed Gratton with their American Hockey League affiliate, the New Haven Nighthawks. Gilles played just one game in New Haven before calling it quits for good.

Among his famous quirks was the claim by opposing players that Gratton would growl at them. Gilles was a huge believer in reincarnation, was a talented classical pianist despite never taking a single lesson. He also had a thing for nudity at the rink.

 

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