Monday, November 21, 2011
Quite likely the best player you've never heard of, Guyle Fielder was born on this date in 1930. Fielder currently ranks as the third leading scorer in professional hockey history with 1,929 points, behind only better known legends Wayne Gretzky (2,967) and Gordie Howe (2,358).
Fielder began his playing days with first the Prince Albert Mintos in 1947-48 and later with the Lethbridge Native Sons in 1949-50, where he demonstrated his offensive skills by scoring 47 goals and 105 points in only 39 games. He followed that up in 1950-51 with 44 goals and 101 points in 37 games, which led to him making his NHL debut with the Chicago Black Hawks, with whom he played 3 games.
The 1949-50 Lethbridge Native Sons
He spent the next season wit the New Westminster Royals of the Pacific Coast Hockey League, racking up another 25 goals and 75 points to win the league's Rookie of the Year award. For the 1952-53 season, Fielder played the majority of his season with the St. Louis Flyers of the American Hockey League, leading the team with 83 points and winning AHL Rookie of the Year honors, his second consecutive such honor. He also made three appearances for the Edmonton Flyers of the Western Hockey League and joined the Detroit Red Wings for four games during the NHL playoffs.
1953-54 was a repeat of the previous season, as Fielder led the Seattle Bombers of the WHL with 83 points and competed in the NHL postseason with a pair of games for the Boston Bruins. He returned to the New Westminster Royals for all of 1954-55, this time with a team leading 87 points.
His next stop was with the Seattle Americans of the WHL for two seasons, leading the team with 79 points in 1955-56 and leading the entire league with 122 points in 1956-57, which broke the single season professional scoring record.
The 1956-57 Seattle Americans
He was back in the NHL at the start of the 1957-58 season, his second stint with the Red Wings. He was released after six games at his own request due to limited playing time, and returned to Seattle where he picked right up where he left off, leading the WHL in scoring once again with 111 points despite giving the competition and eight game head start.
Guyle Fielder's only hockey card, a 1957-58 Topps Red Wings card
A new ownership group purchased the Seattle WHL club and renamed them the Totems beginning with the 1958-59 season and Fielder would remain a fixture with the club for the next 11 seasons, displaying amazing durability and consistency, playing out of 767 out of 780 games from 1958 to 1969, over 98% of the possible games. Offensively, Fielder led the Totems in scoring 9 times in those 11 seasons with 9 seasons of over 90 points and two over 100. His "down" seasons were 73 points in 69 games and 70 in 70, meaning his lowest average was a point per game for over a decade!
Guyle Fielder while with the Totems
In addition to his scoring titles, Fielder was also a five time WHL First Team All-Star five times with the Totems (in addition to the three previous times with the Bombers and Americans), three times the league's Most Gentlemanly Player and a six time WHL Most Valuable Player.
His time with Seattle finally came to an end when he retired, only to return for the next season, when he joined the expansion Salt Lake Golden Eagles in 1969 to play for a former teammate who was the Golden Eagles coach. While his point totals dropped with the change to the last place Golden Eagles, Fielder still led the club in points with 66 and came second on the club the following season with 61.
In 1971-72, Fielder played 30 games with Salt Lake before being traded to the Portland Buckaroos for the final 40 games of the year during which he scored 49 points. Despite being drafted by the Houston Aeros of the fledgling WHA, Fielder chose to remain with Portland for the final season of his career, scoring a final 11 goals and 58 points in 70 games, only the second time in his 20 year career he averaged less than a point per game.
In addition to his personal awards, Fielder was also a member of championship teams in the WHL on three occasions, capturing the Lester Patrick Cup in 1959, 1967 and 1968 all with the Totems.
The WHL Champion 1967-68 Seattle Totems
Fielder would retire with 1,487 games played, 438 goals, 1,491 assists and 1,929 points, which was also the professional record at the time of his retirement. He still holds the record for most minor league assists, points and games played despite having retired nearly 40 years ago. Amazingly, despite his indisputable offensive talent, his career record also shows 9 NHL games without registering a point.
For more information on the history of Seattle hockey, we recommend SeattleHockey.net.
Today's featured jersey is a 1967-68 Seattle Totems Guyle Fielder jersey. The Totems would begin life in 1958 wearing red, white and blue sweaters and would change to green for the 1966-67 campaign.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1950-51 Lethbridge Native Sons Guyle Fielder jersey. This fantastic looking jersey features the Lethbridge script not only as part of the main crest, but also above the numbers on the back where names would become standard a quarter century later.
This jersey, with it's multiple arm and waist stripes is a true classic from a bygone era when hockey sweaters and football jerseys were much closer in style.
Of note, the "6" in the crest of the Native Sons jersey stands for the six First Nations tribes who inhabited the Lethbridge area of Alberta.
Today's video selection is a tribute to Guyle Fielder.