September 03, 2015
Connie Brown was a tiny but speedy pivot out of Vankleek Hill - the Gingerbread Capital of Ontario. It's a small agricultural town positioned between the hockey-mad metropolises of Ottawa and Montreal, as the crow flies. Only a couple of thousand of people live in there nowadays, but hockey has always been the community gathering point. Every year teams - featuriung former pros and junior and college players even - travel from all over Eastern Canada and Northeastern USA to compete in a popular 4-on-4 tourney called the Pond Rocket Cup.
For a town so small, quite a few local players went on to junior and college. Two even made it to the big leagues. Joe Matte in the 1920s and Connie Brown in the 1940s.
Brown was a playmaking wizard and an offensive dynamo. He stood just five-foot-seven and weighed only 165 pounds, but he was a slippery waterbug with his characteristic hop in his skating stride who was always a step ahead of the defender chasing him.
As an amateur he was often leading his team in scoring, including with the Ottawa Rideaus when they challenged for the Memorial Cup junior championship in 1935 and the Cornwall Royals when they won the Allan Cup senior hockey national championship in 1938.
It was soon after the Allan Cup that Brown signed with the Detroit Red Wings organization. Despite putting up some decent point totals in stretches with the Red Wings, Brown was mostly an AHL farmhand.
Stan Fischler tells a great story about Brown while playing for the Red Wings in the book Detroit Red Wings: Greatest Moments and Players:
His days as a farmhand appeared to be changing by the 1942-43 season. He got into 23 games with the Wings that season, scoring 5 goals and 21 points, solid numbers by any means.
But his imminent NHL arrival was interrupt by - like so many young hockey players back then - World War II obligations. He was summoned back to the Ottawa area to work in a supporting role for Canadian troops.
He never returned to professional hockey. He starred at the senior hockey level, playing in Ottawa, Quebec and Nova Scotia. He later coached in Ottawa too.
Connie Brown passed away in 1966, just 49 years old.