Lou Bendo was a popular hockey player who captained the Windsor Bulldogs for seven years in the 1950s and ’60s. He led Windsor to the 1963 Allan Cup. A centre, Bendo had brief associations with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens.
Bendo was born on February 13, 1933 in Timmins, Ontario, where he later attended Timmins High & Vocational School.
At age 16, Bendo won the Ontario Juvenile Championship while playing with the Porcupine Region Midget Champs, defeating St. Catharines two games to one in a best-of-three series. Bendo scored eight goals across the three games.
Intrigued by the 16-year-old standout, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Bendo to a “C” Form, thereby owning his professional rights. Bendo moved to Toronto in time for the 1951-52 season, during which he played for the Toronto Marlboros alongside linemates Eric Nestereko and Billy Harris. Bendo’s Marlboros finished their regular season in first place before losing in the playoffs to the Guelph Biltmores, that year’s Memorial Cup Champions.
In 1952-53, Bendo and Harries welcomed new linemate Gerry James. The Marlboros had another strong regular season, but once again fell to the eventual Memorial Cup Champions in the OHA Playoffs – this time the Barrie Flyers.
When Bendo and the Maple Leafs could not agree on a contract prior to the 1953-54 season, Conn Smythe, the team’s owner, suspended him from all hockey. Fortunately, Maple Leafs scout Howie Meeker persuaded Smyth to lift the ban so that Bendo could play for the Stratford Indians in Senior A, which he happened to coach. With strong performances from Bendo and his linemates Fred Pletsch and Herb Dejordy, Stratford reached the OHA Finals, where it lost to the Owen Sound Mercurys.
In 1954-55, Bendo returned to the Maple Leafs, where he made it through training camp and agreed to sign a contract after the fourth exhibition game. Unfortunately, he sustained a broken wrist during the match, which signaled a return to Stratford. He joined a line with Dejordy and George Aitken as Stratford once again reached the OHA finals, losing this time to the Chatham Maroons. Bendo was selected as Stratford’s Most Popular Player by its fans.
In 1955-56, Bendo attended training camp with the Montreal Canadians but failed to agree to a contract. He returned to Stratford for a final season, which proceeded almost identically to the one previous. Bendo played with Dejordy and Aitken, was voted Most Popular Player, and fell to Chatham in the OHA Finals. Following the defeat, Bendo joined the Maroons for the team’s Allan Cup run. Chatham lost to Vernon, British Columbia in the Canadian Finals.
Tony Wisne, Detroit Industrialist and owner of the Windsor Bulldogs, purchased Bendo’s contract prior to the following season. Bendo was named Captain, won the Hewas League MVP trophy, and reached the playoffs in what was his first of seven brilliant years with the Bulldogs.
With the Bulldogs, Bendo played between Chester Warchol and John Sleaver (1955-56), Gord Haidy and Walter Pawlyshyn (’57-59), Jack Costello and Pawlyshyn (’59-62), and Costello and former NHL star Real Chevrifils (’62-63).
In 1962-63, the team won the Hewas League Playoffs but fell to Kapuskasing in the Ontario Finals. The following season, the ’Dogs won the Allan Cup to become Canadian Champions. Bendo’s team defeated the Woodstock Athletics, Chatham Maroons, and Noranda Alouettes en route to the Ontario title, then the Moncton Hawks to capture the Eastern Canadian title. In the Allan Cup Finals, Windsor beat the Winnipeg Maroons four games to one in a best-of-seven series. Bendo assisted on Bill Mitchell’s winning goal in a 3-2 fifth game victory to clinch the Cup.
Bendo was a five-time recipient of the Bulldogs’ fan-voted Most Popular Player award. In 1961-62, he won the Andy Bellemer Trophy for sportsmanship and exemplary play.
Bendo finished his career as the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in playoff points (113) and goals in a single game (6). His 50 career playoff goals ranked second all-time, and his points (550 total, 437 regular season), goals (223, 173), and assists (327, 264) ranked third.