July 01, 2017

Hockey Heroes: Bruce MacGregor

In the 1960s and early 1970s speedy Bruce MacGregor was so fast he was nicknamed "The Redheaded Rocket."

He was hometown legend growing up in Edmonton in the 1950s, starring with the junior Edmonton Oil Kings and later the senior Edmonton Flyers.

In those days, Edmonton was very much Detroit Red Wings territory. If you played for the Oil Kings and/or Flyers, you were a good NHL prospect. MacGregor fit that description to a tee, and it was not long before he became a regular in Detroit, the team he grew up dreaming of playing for.

Despite being an Edmonton hometown hero and a Red Wings fixture in the 1960s, nowadays "The Redheaded Rocket" should be re-nicknamed as "The Forgotten Man."

MacGregor was a slick and speedy forward who was a coach's dream. He was never an outstanding scorer, topping 20 goals only three times in his 13 year career, but he would do anything the coaches needed him to do, and with great proficiency. Using his incredible acceleration and his equally impressive hockey sense, he was a great utility player, filling in admirably wherever and whenever the team asked him to. He was also a mainstay on the penalty kill unit.

1965-66 was his most memorable campaign as the Red Wings met the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals. The Wings surprised nearly everyone by winning the first two games, in Montreal to boot, with MacGregor scoring his the winner in game 2. Montreal would storm back and win the next four to end Detroit's unlikely run.

MacGregor would remain in Detroit until February 1971 when MacGregor and Larry Brown were traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Arnie Brown, Mike Robitaille and Tom Miller.

For the next four years MacGregor brought his steady game to Manhattan. In the spring of 1972 MacGregor had one final chance to sip from the Stanley Cup, but again it was not meant to be. After upsetting the Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers would fall short to Bobby Orr's Boston Bruins.

When the WHA was throwing around big contracts to NHL regulars, MacGregor jumped at the chance to return home to Edmonton and play for the new team known as the Oilers.

MacGregor would play two season for the Oilers, but he would very much be associated with the Oilers as they grew into WHA powerhouse and NHL dynasty, serving as one of Glen Sather's top aides, serving as the long time assistant general manager.

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