I somehow hadn’t heard the senseless, tragic story of NHL player Brian Spencer and his father Roy until author Brian Cronin recounted their almost cartoonishly sad lives today in a relatively brief blog entry at LATimes.com. (The word “unbelievable” is probably the most overused word in our culture, but in this particular instance, it most certainly applies.)
(Canadians: Sadder life story than Terry Fox? Call it even.)
Future NHL player Brian Spencer grew up in rural British Columbia, son of hopelessly alcoholic father Roy. I know, you’ve heard this story before.
Spencer’s father, Roy Spencer, was a stern man. A skilled mechanic, he was the one who instilled in Brian the attitude and drive that would serve Brian in the NHL. On the other hand, he also most likely taught him anger and a weakness for alcohol. By his mid-teens, Brian was already a heavy drinker and had spent time in reform school. However, he was still a talented hockey player, so he had a way out of Fort St. James. One of the proudest days of his father’s life was when Brian was drafted. As it turned out, Roy was perhaps a bit too proud.
Brian was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in ‘69, and made the roster as a fulltime player for the ‘70-71 season. On Dec. 12, 1970, the Leafs-Boston Bruins game was aired nationally on Hockey Night In Canada. Unfortunately though for Roy Spencer, he was deprived of seeing his son play when the local B.C. outlet elected to air the Vancouver-Oakland Seals game instead.
Okay, now here’s the part you haven’t heard: Read more…