Skip to main content

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.


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.

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M