June 09, 2014

Bob Barlow

Bob Barlow grew up in Hamilton, Ontario and would one day become property of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But make no mistake, his hockey idol was the Leafs most respected enemy.

Barlow grew up idolizing Montreal's Rocket Richard.

"He loved scoring goals, and so did I," reasoned Barlow. "That's why I was a winger. I was infatuated with seeing the puck go in the net."

Barlow made that happen a lot of his lengthy hockey career. In 23 seasons of junior, senior and professional hockey he played nearly 1400 games and scored 600 goals.

Barlow turned pro in 1958 but because he was buried in the deep Leafs organization in the 1960s - the last decade of the Original Six - Barlow had no hope of ever making it to the NHL. He absolutely lit up the old professional Western Hockey League, regularly turning in 40 goal seasons. But the Leafs never gave him a look.

Barlow probably gave up much hope he'd ever play in the big leagues but then the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams in 1967, opening up jobs for many long time minor leaguers. Barlow caught on with the Minnesota North Stars.

Barlow even scored on his first shift - just six seconds in, apparently!

"We had a power play against Philadelphia and (coach) Wren Blair put me on the point. I took a slap shot and the puck had eyes and got past Bernie Parent. I'm 31 years old and I get my first NHL goal six seconds into my very first shift. When I got back to the bench I asked if it was always this easy," Barlow remembers.

The answer was no. Barlow played 70 NHL games that season but scored just 16 goals - quite the drop from his WHL. The following season he only played 7 more NHL games before he was sent back to the WHL for a few more years.

Barlow did re-appear in the big leagues when he 51 games for Phoenix of the WHA in 1974-75 in what was essentially his last season of hockey.

Barlow's family has quite the history in sports. His father, Hugh, won the Allan Cup in 1947 with the Montreal Royals. Bob's daughter Wendy was a world class tennis pro who competed at Wimbledon. And his granddaughter, Hillary Pattenden, is a goalie at Mercyhurst college with hopes of representing Canada at the Olympics one day.

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