Guyle Fielder

Guyle Fielder was the greatest minor league hockey player ever.  This fact is not in question, as no one ever played as long or as well in the minors.  That leaves us with a question, though… why didn’t Fielder make the next step to the NHL?

Fielder’s career numbers are staggering.  In 1,487 regular season minor league games he put up 438 goals and 1,491 assists.  Add on his 110 playoff games during which he scored 25 goals and 83 assists, and you have a minor league career total of 2,037 points… the only player ever to reach that milestone, and it’s a record that will likely never be broken. 

You want more stats?  Ok… Fielder played 21 seasons in the Western Hockey League.  During that time he led the league in assists 13 times and in points 9 times.  He was the Rookie of the Year in 1951-52, and he won the MVP award 6 times.  He was a First Team All-Star 8 times, and a Second Team All-Star 4 times.  He was named the league’s Most Gentlemanly Player 3 times, and he led Seattle to 3 WHL championships.  Oh yeah, during his one minor league season outside the WHL (1952-53) he was named the American Hockey League Rookie of the Year and led that league in assists too.

Fielder was born in Potlach, Idaho on November 21, 1930.  He moved with his family Manitoba at an early age, and played his junior hockey there in Prince Albert and Lethbridge.  During the 1950-51 WCJHL season, Fielder led the league in all three offensive categories with 44 goals, 56 assists, and 100 points… in 37 games!  The Chicago Blackhawks came calling, and he was signed to a contract in the spring of 1951 for a $100 signing bonus.  Chicago called him up to the NHL at the end of the 1950-51 season, but he failed to score in the three games in which he played.

Guyle made his minor league debut with the New Westminster Royals of the PCHL in 1951-52, and won the league Rookie of the Year award.  Before the start of the following season, his rights were acquired by the Detroit Red Wings and he was sent to St. Louis of the AHL, where he won his second straight Rookie of the Year.  Detroit called up Fielder during the playoffs, but he was held off the score sheet in the four games in which he suited up. 

Things looked good for Fielder heading into training camp with Detroit before the start of the 1953-54 campaign.  Unfortunately he did not make the club, and he was put on waivers where he was claimed by the New York Rangers.  The Rangers promptly traded him to Seattle of the WHL, and that began a long and successful run for Fielder in that city. 

Guyle spent 15 of the next 16 seasons in Seattle (he played for New Westminster when Seattle dropped out of the league for the 1954-55 season).  Under his leadership the city would see 5 WHL finals and 3 championships.  Fielder had his best years during this period, leading the league in assists 12 times, points 9 times and winning all of his 6 MVP awards. 

There were still a couple of shots at the NHL for Guyle.  He appeared in two games for the Boston Bruins during the 1953-54 playoffs, and he had another 6 game stint with Detroit at the start of the 1957-58 season.  He was also claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs during an inter-league draft in 1958, but he refused to sign with the team unless they offered him a one-way contract.  They refused, and he remained in Seattle.  That was the end of Fielder’s experience with the NHL…. 15 games, no points, 2 penalty minutes.

In 1956-57 Fielder became the first professional hockey player to score more than 100 points in a season, and he did it in style with 33 goals, 89 assists and 122 points.  The 122 points would remain a single season WHL record which would never be broken.  This was the first of three straight seasons with over 100 points, and he would add a fourth in 1963-64. 

Fielder was honored by Seattle fans with Guyle Fielder Night on April 2, 1961.  He was lavished with gifts from the fans, the club, and even other teams in the league.  He was 30 years old and had been playing professional hockey for 11 seasons… and he would go on to play for 13 more.

Fielder retired from hockey after the 1968-69 season, and his departure was the beginning of the end for successful hockey in Seattle.  During his 15 seasons in the city he averaged just over 21 goals and 73 assists each year.

The retirement was short lived, however, as a friend convinced him to join the new start up Salt Lake Golden Eagles, playing their first season in the WHL.  Fielder agreed (I’m sure the $20,000 a year contract helped), and he played for two and a half seasons in Salt Lake before being traded to Portland, where he finished out his career at the end of the 1972-73 season.  His numbers during those last four seasons were not as good as those in Seattle, but they were still respectable as he averaged a little over 65 points per year.

Statistics and Awards

Regular Season
(totals in red indicate league leader)

Season Club League GP Goals Assists Points PIM
1947-48 Prince Albert Mintos SJHL 25 26 15 41 20
1948-49 Prince Albert Mintos SJHL 20 17 26 43 22
Lethbridge Native Sons WCJHL 2 1 1 2 0
1949-50 Lethbridge Native Sons WCJHL 39 47 58 105 19
1950-51 Lethbridge Native Sons WCJHL 37 44 56 100 6
Chicago Black Hawks NHL 3 0 0 0 0
1951-52 New Westminster Royals PCHL 57 25 50 75 10
1952-53 St. Louis Flyers AHL 62 22 61 83 12
Edmonton Flyers WHL 3 0 1 1 0
Detroit Red Wings (playoffs) NHL
1953-54 Seattle Bombers WHL 68 24 64 88 20
Boston Bruins (playoffs) NHL
1954-55 New Westminster Royals WHL 70 20 67 87 37
1955-56 Seattle Americans WHL 70 18 61 79 42
1956-57 Seattle Americans WHL 69 33 89 122 30
1957-58 Detroit Red Wings NHL 6 0 0 0 2
Seattle Americans WHL 62 26 85 111 22
1958-59 Seattle Totems WHL 69 24 95 119 18
1959-60 Seattle Totems WHL 69 31 64 95 12
1960-61 Seattle Totems WHL 69 24 71 95 32
1961-62 Seattle Totems WHL 69 21 52 73 46
1962-63 Seattle Totems WHL 69 17 80 97 20
1963-64 Seattle Totems WHL 66 17 85 102 34
Quebec Aces (playoffs) AHL
1964-65 Seattle Totems WHL 70 14 78 92 38
1965-66 Seattle Totems WHL 70 19 75 94 10
1966-67 Seattle Totems WHL 72 20 71 91 22
1967-68 Seattle Totems WHL 70 15 55 70 26
1968-69 Seattle Totems WHL 74 20 74 94 12
1969-70 Salt Lake Golden Eagles WHL 55 8 58 66 20
1970-71 Salt Lake Golden Eagles WHL 64 15 46 61 22
1971-72 Salt Lake Golden Eagles WHL 30 5 22 27 4
Portland Buckaroos WHL 40 9 40 49 10
1972-73 Portland Buckaroos WHL 70 11 47 58 4


Playoffs
(totals in red indicate league leader)

Season Club League GP Goals Assists Points PIM
1947-48 Prince Albert Mintos SJHL 2 0 1 1 0
1948-49 Prince Albert Mintos SJHL 9 9 14 23 4
1949-50 Lethbridge Native Sons WCJHL 10 2 7 9 14
1950-51 Lethbridge Native Sons WCJHL 7 3 5 8 8
1951-52 New Westminster Royals PCHL 7 1 3 4 2
1952-53 Detroit Red Wings NHL 4 0 0 0 0
1953-54 Boston Bruins NHL 2 0 0 0 2
1956-57 Seattle Americans WHL 6 2 4 6 0
1957-58 Seattle Americans WHL 9 2 9 11 2
1958-59 Seattle Totems WHL 12 4 9 13 4
1959-60 Seattle Totems WHL 4 1 1 2 0
1960-61 Seattle Totems WHL 11 2 9 11 4
1961-62 Seattle Totems WHL 2 0 0 0 0
1962-63 Seattle Totems WHL 17 5 17 22 6
1963-64 Quebec Aces AHL 1 0 0 0 0
1964-65 Seattle Totems WHL 7 0 7 7 2
1966-67 Seattle Totems WHL 10 2 7 9 12
1967-68 Seattle Totems WHL 9 6 5 11 2
1968-69 Seattle Totems WHL 4 0 2 2 4
1971-72 Portland Buckaroos WHL 11 0 10 10 2

 

Awards

PCHL Rookie of the Year – 1952
AHL Rookie of the Year – 1953
AHL First Team All-Star – 1953
WHL First Team All-Star – 1954, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1967
WHL Coast Division First Team All-Star – 1957, 1958, 1959
WHL Second Team All-Star – 1961, 1965, 1966, 1968
WHL Most Gentlemanly Player (Hume Cup) – 1966, 1967, 1969
WHL Coast Division MVP – 1957, 1958, 1959
WHL MVP (Leader Cup) – 1960, 1964, 1967

WHL Championship Team – 1959, 1967, 1968

Guyle Fielder Game Used Stick

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