August 07, 2015

Arnie Brown

Arnie Brown was born in Oshawa, Ontario on January 28th, 1942, though he grew up in the picturesque small town of Apsley where his parents ran the general store.

Apsley was so small that Brown actually played on the senior team with the men in his youth. Fortunately Apsley is 40 miles north of Peterborough so Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings scouts did get tipped about the colorful character from the small town.

Leafs famed scout Bob Davidson convinced Brown to head south to Toronto. The Leafs arranged for him to attend the famous St. Michael's school, which also happened to be home to one of the top junior hockey teams in the country.

Unfortunately Brown would break his ankle on a routine icing call. His first season was spent rehabbing and, when he could, playing with the team's midget "Buzzers" team.

Brown would finally play for St. Mikes in 1959-60, joining the likes of Larry Keenan, Terry O'Malley, Davey Keon and coach Bob Goldham. In 1960-61 they defeated the Edmonton Oil Kings in a classic Memorial Cup championships showdown.

Father David Bauer helped Brown his first NHL contract in 1961, even though Brown still had a year of junior hockey left. He would earn $5,500 in the minors that first year, and a whopping $8,000 if he made the Leafs.

Leafs boss Punch Imlach kept Brown right through to the last day of training camp before deciding Brown should go back to junior. But St. Mikes did not cooperate in that they refused to school him and let him play hockey while also bending to the Leafs wishes of having Brown practice with the Leafs whenever they were in town. The priests who ran St. Mikes were beginning to push academics over hockey, and did not want to set such a precedent.  Brown ended up not going to school at all that season, and played for the Toronto Marlies. He actually ended up missing a large portion of the season with a separated shoulder.

Brown continued to be high on the Leafs prospect list, but since the team was winning Stanley Cups in 1962, 1963 and 1964, they made very few changes to their championship roster. Brown would only get into six NHL games over those three seasons.

That was remedied in the 1964 season when he was traded in a blockbuster to the New York Rangers by the Maple Leafs with Rod Seiling, Dick Duff, Bob Nevin and Bill Collins for Andy Bathgate and Don McKenneny.

It was a bitter sweet moment for Brown. He would finally get to play in the NHL, but not with the Leafs

"I went on to the Rangers and spent seven years there. I would like to have stayed with the Leafs," he said many years later.

Brown was a full time member of the Rangers' blueline group through to 1971. Interestingly, in his first four seasons he scored five total goals. Then he had seasons of ten and fifteen goals. He was a solid and unspectacular defenseman - the kind that never makes the highlight reels or is almost unnoticed at all by the casual observer. But his teammates and coaches love such professionals.

Brown would play briefly with the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames before finishing his career in the World Hockey Association.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember, as a kid growing up in Toronto, real NHL players were somebody you rarely saw. During the summer of 64 we drove to the cottage near Apsley, stopping at Brown's General Store on the way. There was Arnie, a big stogie in his mouth, sitting in a brand new white Caddy convertible in front of the store. Probably had just signed the new contract with the Rangers. Wow, was I impressed!