Monday, January 9, 2012

Hockey and a Law Degree

We are all familiar with Ken Dryden's pursuit of his legal studies while playing goal for the Montreal Canadiens.

Back in the early 1930s another player dedicated his time to becoming a legal eagle. His name in Don McFayden.

Born in Crossfield, Alberta, McFayden played his junior hockey with the Calagary Canadians. He won a Memorial Cup with the Canadians in 1926.

At the conclusion of his junior career, McFayden was faced with two options concerning his future. First, was the more travelled path of playing in the WCHL. An alternative for McFayden included not only restricting himself to participating in the game, but extending his studies. This way, he could have the best of both worlds - sports and academics. Thus, he opted to play for Marquette University.

It was at Marquette that McFayden experienced one of his greatest feats in hockey. "During the collegiate playoffs, Marquette a lowly western school, went east to Boston and defeated the big eastern champions Harvard University 4 to 2," said McFayden reflecting on his time at the school.

Marquette's victory over Harvard took place in 1930, the same year McFayden got the nod as the starting centre on the All-American Hockey Team.

In 1930-31, McFayden turned pro with the Chicago Shamrocks in the AHA. In 1931-32, he lead the league in assists, accumulating 17 helpers in 48 games.

McFayden faced another important decision when Jim Norris purchased the Detroit Cougars in 1932. The Cougars, who would later undergo a name change to Red Wings, purchased many of the Shamrocks players. One of them being McFayden.

Instead of joining Detroit in the NHL, McFayden elected to stay in Chicago. On September 2, 1932 he was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks by the Shamrocks for cash. Just as important, he continued his studies by taking classes at the university of Chicago Law School. He earned his degree in 1935.

McFayden played four seasons with the Black Hawks from 1932-33 to 1935-36. He described his style of play in the following manner, "I never was much of a scorer. Usually I was sent out to prevent somebody from the other side scoring goals."

His greatest thrill in the National Hockey League? Winning the Stanley Cup in 1933-34. "That final game when Mush (Marsh) scored the only goal against Detroit and we won 1-0, must be the second biggest night I had in hockey."

After his stint as an active player came to an end, he served as a linesman in the NHL and continued plying his trade in the law industry. He worked the lines until 1942.

During World War Two, McFayden served in the U.S. Navy. After spending most of his time away from Canada, McFayden became an American citizen. At sea, he was assigned to the Destroyer U.S.S. Sutherland. On ship, his responsibilities included working as a navigator.

Following his military service, MacFayden returned to his law career in Chicago and later in the State of Florida.

In 179 NHL regular season contests, he scored 12 goals and 33 assists for 45 points. In post-season action, McFayden skated in 11 games, producing 2 goals and 2 assists.

Don McFayden passed away on May 26, 1990 at the age of 83.

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