I'm not making it up folks. That's his name. Fido Purpur.
Its a great name eh? Say it two or three times. Fido Purpur. Fido Purpur. Fido Purpur. I bet you can't do it without cracking a grin! Drag the "ur" in Purpur. Fido PurrrPurrr. *giggle* It has all the makings of a great party game, eh?
Clifford Joseph Purpur was his real name. So how did he get the nickname "Fido?" Well, this is what Total Hockey has to say about the subject:
"How Yogi Berra's favorite player, Clifford Purpur, was dubbed "Fido" is enough to keep any researcher on the edge of his seat. Purpur himself reveals that a Minneapolis sportswriter named Fred Matthewson reported that Cliff was 'busier than a springer (bird dog) in a field full of pheasants.' The next day the name was
made public and it stuck."
Okay, works for me.
Fido Purpur was the first North Dakota native to become a National Hockey League player. He achieved this at a time when there were only six NHL teams and an American player playing on any of these teams was an oddity.
He is also a bit of a legend in St. Louis hockey circles. He began his NHL career in St. Louis in 1933-34 with the Eagles. He played in 25 games and scored 1 goal and 3 points. The Eagles, formerly known as the original Ottawa Senators, folded after just one season. Purpur elected to continue his hockey career in the city of St. Louis. For the next 6 seasons he played for the AHA's St. Louis Flyers. He was a standout for the Flyers, particularly in the last 4 seasons. His best season came in 1938-39 when he had 35 goals and 43 assists in 48 games. He added 3 goals and 6 points in the playoffs as the Flyers won the AHA championship.
Purpur was a fan favorite in St. Louis. Though he was very small at 5'6" and 155lbs, he entertained with great speed and heart and determination. Purpur could be compared to a Theoren Fleury although didn't take as many penalties.
Purpur left St. Louis in 1941-42 and joined the AHA's Kansas City Americans. That season also marked his return to the NHL as he appeared in 8 games with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Though he failed to score a point in the 8 games, Purpur was brought back to Chicago the following training camp and made the squad. He did quite okay for himself too. In his first full NHL season he scored 13 goals and 29 points. Purpur saw action on a line with the famous Bentley brothers - Max and Doug. But by playoff time his role had changed to that of defensive specialist. It was Fido's job to shadow a young Montreal player named Maurice Richard. The two teams faced off in the Stanley Cup finals but Montreal easily won in 4 straight games.
Fido played for another year and a half with the Hawks before he was demoted to the minors in the 1944-45 season. Late in the year the Detroit Red Wings acquired him in exchange for Byron McDonald. Purpur never saw action in the regular season with the Wings, but did in the playoffs. Purpur helped the Wings reach the Cup finals but again his team fell short, this time to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Purpur was traded back to the AHA's St. Louis Flyers in the summer of 1945. He played one season there before playing one final pro season with the USHL's St. Paul Saints.
After his active hockey days were over, Purpur returned to his native state to live and work in Grand Forks. He gained further success as a coach at Grand Forks Central High School and the University of North Dakota. He was later inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.