NEW YORK — Pentti Lund, the National Hockey League’s first prominent Finnish-born player and its 1949 Rookie of the Year, playing at wing for the New York Rangers, died Tuesday in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
The cause was a stroke, said his daughter Joanne Miller.
More than 160 Finns have played in the NHL, but long before the league began attracting many of the world’s best players, Mr. Lund won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie and turned in a brilliant performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs in his second season.
Mr. Lund, 87, who grew up in a Finnish immigrant family in Port Arthur (now a part of Thunder Bay), arriving there at age 6, was the second native of Finland to play in the NHL. The first, Al Pudas, played four games for Toronto.
Mr. Lund was the first Finnish native to score an NHL goal, on the way to netting 14 goals along with 16 assists as a rookie. He was the star of the Rangers’ upset triumph over the Canadiens in the 1950 Stanley Cup semifinal series, when he scored five goals, including a three-goal hat trick, and kept Canadiens star Maurice Richard bottled up with one goal.
‘‘We had a game plan — Pentti was picked to shadow Richard,’’ his teammate Edgar Laprade, the future Hall of Fame center and a fellow resident of Thunder Bay, said in an interview Thursday. ‘‘He was a big cog in our whole team.’’
The Rangers won the series, 4 games to 1, and ‘‘a lot of it was due to Pentti,’’ Laprade said.
The Rangers lost to the Red Wings in a seven-game Stanley Cup finals, but Mr. Lund emerged from the playoffs with six goals and five assists, leading the Rangers in total points.
He was traded to the Boston Bruins before the 1951-52 season, but he lost the sight in his right eye when he was struck by the stick of a Chicago Blackhawks defenseman in November.