May 23, 2015

Dr. Fred Arthur

Defenseman Fred Arthur only played 80 games in his NHL career, scoring just one goal and nine points.

At first glance that is hardly the most impressive hockey career. But it turns out his story is one of the most interesting in all of hockey history.

Fred Arthur was the eighth overall draft pick in the 1980 NHL draft, selected by the Hartford Whalers. He was selected ahead of the likes of long time NHLers like Mike Bullard, Jim Fox, Brent Sutter and Barry Pederson.

He stayed in junior where he helped the Cornwall Royals win the 1980 and 1981 Memorial Cup as hockey's junior champions. He was one of the top defense prospects in the world. He was huge at 6'6" and 210lbs, and he was never afraid to use his size to his fullest advantage. He had good mobility for his size, and made excellent breakout passes. He seemed destined for the National Hockey League.

After just three games in Hartford, Arthur was traded to Philadelphia in a blockbuster by Hartford with Ray Allison and Hartford's first (Ron Sutter) and third (Miroslav Dvorak) round choices in 1982 Entry Draft for Rick MacLeish, Blake Wesley, Don Gillen, and Philadephia's first (Paul Lawless), second (Mark Patterson) and third (Kevin Dineen) round choices in 1982 Entry Draft.

Arthur played his rookie season in 1981-82, scoring an unassuming goal and seven assists. But in the fall of 1982, just three games into his sophomore season, Fred Arthur walked away from the game. He announced his retirement at the age of 21.

But Fred Arthur was not just walking away from the game. He had a grander plan. He was enrolling in medical school.

"I showed I could play in Philly. I killed all the penalties," Arthur said. "Wayne Gretzky was on the ice. 'Get out there, Fred.' That's a pretty big ego trip. But once I showed I had that level of skill, a lot of the motivation was gone."

"I went back home and played video games for two months. My brother still tells a story about how I played one game for nine hours without blinking. Then I started to come together. I went to McGill University (in Montreal) for premed. It was a scary experience. I would stay up to 1 a.m. reading about the orbits of electrons. I'd wake up the next morning and it wasn't there. My brain was out of shape."

Arthur had also openly talked about how he did not like the junior or pro hockey lifestyle. The son of a lawyer and a nurse was not like most jocks. He had a near 100% average in high school, and he did not take the easy course like so many hockey players do. He was truly fascinated with calculus and English literature.

Dropping hockey and returning to school turned out to be - pardon the bad pun - just what the doctor ordered. Dr. Arthur has a thriving and rewarding family practice in London, Ontario.

1 comment:

Dave Nathan said...

This is a very fascinating story about a very talented individual. Whether on the ice, or in his office, or at home with his family, Fred always projects a positive impression on others.

Congratulations -- a well-written insight into a captivating individual.