So, there’s this project I’ve been working on for several years. You see I’ve always been fascinated by the minor pro leagues; AHL, IHL, CHL, ACHL, UHL etc…
I’ve found that those who have spent their hockey careers riding the bus are the true lovers of this amazing game. There’s no glitz no glamour. In some cases almost zero press coverage, terrible arenas, long bus rides & next to nothing for money ( AHL aside but still they don’t cut NHL paychecks. )
I’ve had two Uncles who have played minor pro / senior hockey. My uncle, Tim Williams had the longest tenure in minor pro between himself and his brother Scott Williams. I’ve tracked both of their careers & the latter is featured in a book I’m working on.
The basis of the project is to find anything that mentions them in games, newspapers, video clips, roster sheets, media guides, photos etc
It’s been a long road and shockingly I am finding more things related to Scott who never played for a league that by modern standards would be considered minor pro but for a senior league that folded in in the middle of just its second season.
Tim’s hockey stats can be found here http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=7916
Scott’s incomplete records are found here http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=34609 his shouldn’t be incomplete as I’ve emailed and messaged Ralph Slate with Scott’s final stats from the SWHL.
But let’s get back to Tim, he played for the Saginaw Gears, Flint Generals & Dallas Black Hawks. Tim was a second all star team player from the Western Canadian Hockey league & was drafted by both pro hockey leagues; the WHA & NHL. A fairly significant player. His career was ended early by an unfortunate injury.
He had a fairly infamous moment in his junior career with the Victoria Cougars, the result of this incident was a new rule where if a fight broke out and you did not move fast enough to your bench, the refs would give you a game misconduct. You can read that story here http://dropyourgloves.com/Fights/GameEvents.aspx?Game=234863
As for his time in Flint & Dallas I haven’t found too much, the odd newspaper clipping, the old jar of stitches my grandma had of his and a brief mentioning of there being a night in Flint where he was the featured player in the media guide and mini sticks with his signature being given away to lucky Generals fans.
Scott’s career took him from one of the most historic junior hockey teams in Canada, the Flin Flon Bombers, down to Amarillo Texas to play for the second version of the Amarillo Wranglers. He would join them just after the season began and quickly became a well known goalscorer in the league.
A quick story about his time there, it was just after the Christmas break when he alongside his teammates were informed they could no longer be called the Wranglers, their Coach/Ownership group was suing the league in order to make up some of the money they were losing. They were given two options, quit & go home OR continue under a new name with different jerseys. They all chose to continue, using borrowed jerseys they set off in the team bus drinking beers onroute to their next game. Well, they had no name, a very unsure future but the will to keep going, the only thing they could really control was what the teams new name was going to be. Legend has it that they settled on Lone Stars, not because they were from Texas, but merely because that’s the brand of brews they were enjoying.
Have any of you gone digging through your families hockey history? Who were your minor pro heroes?
By Mat T