Friday, February 18, 2011

Fred Speck : 1947-2011

For a young hockey fan born and raised in Southern Ontario, Thursday evening took on a special meaning each new hockey season. Sure, it wasn't Hockey Night In Canada, but it came close enough. It was the only night of the week I wouldn't procrastinate and made a determined effort to finish my homework - A.S.A.P.. I wanted no distractions when it was time to tune into Channel 11 (CHCH-TV) from Hamilton, Ontario. It was game time for Hamilton Red Wings Jr. "A" hockey from the old barn - The Hamilton Forum. It may not have been the Montreal Forum, however, for a hockey starved youngster it really didn't matter. I recall the wonderful play-by-play performed by Norm Marshall and hosting duties/commentary by Sandy Hoyt. Coach Eddie Bush pacing behind the Red Wings bench, his fedora firmly in place.

There were the players - Rene Leclerc, Bart Crashley, Real Lemieux, Pete Mahovlich, Ed Hatoum and Danny Lawson. And there was Fred Speck, who passed away earlier this month.

Fred Speck played in one game for the Hamilton Jr. Red Wings in the 1962-63 season. He would spend the following 5 seasons playing centre for the Wings. His finest year in Hamilton was his last. In 1967-68,  Speck scored 31 goals and added 54 assists for 85 points in 52 games.

There is a story about Speck that best sums-up his grit and determination in junior hockey. On January 16, 1966 the Wings paid a visit to Maple Leaf Gardens for a game against the Toronto Marlboros. At the conclusion of the warm-up, Speck noticed that his skates required sharpening. Under most circumstances this wouldn't be a problem, however, it turned out to be a huge headache. All concerned were advised that the machinery for sharpening skates was out for repairs. At the first intermission, Speck had reached the end of his rope - his skates were too dull for him to play properly. So what does a player do under these conditions? Well, Fred Speck removed his skates and headed straight for coach Rudy Pilous. He wasn't seeking advise or instructions from his coach. Instead, he wanted his car keys. Speck took the coaches car, drove to the Terrace (the old Mutual Street Arena/Arena Gardens) and had his skates worked into game shape. In the final frame, Speck tied-up the contest and assisted on the game winning goal in a 5-3 Hamilton victory.

Fred Speck played 28 games in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks. He scored 1 goal and recorded 3 points. The bulk of his playing career (1968-69 to 1977-78) was spent in various professional leagues. Also, he played in the WHA with 3 teams.

The highlight of his career came in 1970-71 with the AHL Baltimore Clippers. When all was said and done, he captured a spot on the AHL First All-Star team; won the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award (Top Rookie); won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy (Top Scorer); won the Les Cunningham Award (MVP).

Frederick Edmondstone Speck was born on July 22, 1947 in Thorold, Ontario. He passed away on February 10, 2011 in Hamilton, Ontario.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I remember those times too--Barton Street barn--also watching the junior B's on TV also---still have a Hamilton Red Wing souvenir wooden mini-stick and decal--also had that Red Wing post card set but gone long ago
    you can check me out at
    http://hockeykazi.blogspot.com/

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