December 10, 2017

Tim Ecclestone

Tim Ecclestone was born in Toronto in 1947. In choosing his profession, he followed in his Uncle Cam's footsteps more than his father's. Cam Ecclestone was a notable athlete in Canada, a top softball pitcher. Being an athlete appealed far more to Tim than getting into the family dry cleaning business.

While Tim enjoyed a variety of sports as a youth, it was hockey that he was best at. He went on to play for the Kitchener Rangers junior team and by 1964 he was ninth player chosen overall in the NHL draft.

Ecclestone would never get a chance to play for the Rangers. When the NHL expanded in 1967 he was trade to newly minted St. Louis Blues franchise in a package (Gary Sabourin, Bob Plager and Gord Kannegiesser) for defenseman Rod Seiling.

"I still had one year of junior left and was the youngest guy at training camp," he recalled recently. "Lynn Patrick was coach and manager and Scotty Bowman his assistant. They sent me to Kansas City for seasoning but then the big team had some injuries and Doug Harvey, who was the coach at Kansas City, recommended me and I flew into New York to play against the team that had traded me. Five or six games later we were back in New York for another game, and I scored a couple of goals, my first ones in the NHL."

It was the start of a great ride for both Ecclestone and the Blues.

"We traded for Red Berenson and Glenn Hall got hot for us in goal. Scotty took over as coach and while we barely made the playoffs, we reached the Stanley Cup finals."

Tim was the versatile type of forward Scotty Bowman loved. He could skate and check and reliably fill any role the team needed that particular night. He could chip in with some timely offense now and again too.

Ecclestone played four seasons in St. Louis before playing parts of four more in Detroit. In 1974 he briefly got a chance to play for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I enjoyed coming home but near the end of the season I got a shoulder injury. Then in training camp the next year, I got a bad rib injury. Cliff Fletcher, who helped put the team together in St. Louis, was running the club in Atlanta, and he wanted to get me back."

The Leafs traded Ecclestone to Washington in exchange for, ironically, Rod Seiling again. The same day the Capitals flipped him to Atlanta.

Ecclestone found a home in Atlanta, and though the Flames would leave, he never would. He spent five seasons with the franchise as a player and then as an assistant coach.

Ecclestone never moved with the franchise, even though he had a promising start in his coaching career. Tim got into the restaurant and bar business in Atlanta instead and was a fixture ever since.

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