Skip to main content

The Brute! Joe Bretto

This is Joe "The Brute" Bretto.

As the nickname suggests, he was a tough customer in his day. He regularly was among the penalty minute leaders wherever he played. And he was big. Very big. The defenseman stood 6'1", which in the 1930s and 1940s had him towering above many players. He weighed in around 250 pounds!

The hefty Hibbing, Minnesota native mostly played for teams in Minnesota, such as the Hibbing Maroons/Miners, Minneapolis Millers, and, for four seasons, the Saint Paul Saints.

Though he was noted for his size, the big man could skate and liked to rush the puck, much to the excitement of the fans. He once even finished second in a state speed skating championship.

Art Ross was impressed. He invited Bretto to the Boston Bruins training camp in 1934, but he would have to wait another decade before making his NHL debut.

In 1942 Bretto hung up his skates and reportedly was working in the iron ore mines up north. But he made an unlikely return in 1945. The Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League signed Bretto - who was reportedly slim and trim at 225lbs at this stage - to start the season as a depth defenseman. However after only three games played (and two minor penalties taken) Bretto was done and soon re-retired.

Bretto returned to Hibbing where he ran his own mining equipment sales company. He was also known for breeding show horses and for racing cars.

Joe Bretto died in Hibbing, Minnesota in 2007. He was 94 years old.


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