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Hockey Hall of Fame candidate Fleming MacKell


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During the early 1960s a young New Glasgow physician, who was also the president of the New Glasgow Rangers, came up with the idea of bringing in a former National Hockey League player to upstart the local club.

More then 40 years after the fact, Fleming MacKell, the former Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins star shared: "I first met John Hamm as the man who represented a team in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. They were looking for a player, crowds were down and they wanted to compete. I had a service station in Montreal and I was busy all the time but Dickie Moore put Dr. Hamm on to me.

"I recall thinking that John was awful young but he was the president of the team and after he stayed a night at my place, I agreed to come down and play the last few games of the 1963-64 season."

Following the initiation, the outstanding centreman would leave Fleming MacKell's Texaco in the hands of his employees and fill the roll as playing coach of the New Glasgow Rangers for the complete 1964-65 season.

And what a season it was as MacKell scored 49 goals while picking up a league leading 75 assists for a league-leading 124 points and even more importantly leading his team to a first-place finish and the Maritime Senior Hockey Championship.

For Dr. John Hamm (who would eventually become the premier of Nova Scotia) and his executive, the move to bring in the former NHL star proved brilliant.

In looking back, the man who is rated one of the best hockey players ever to play a complete season in the Maritimes, commented: "It is a little difficult to remember a lot after so many years but in either my first or second game that season I scored five goals. That was a good night and everything seemed to be going in.

"The teams would try to check me closely but I played with Darrell MacMillian and Ralph Cameron on one line and with Benny LeBlanc and Reggie Asselin on another line. Playing 40 to 50 minutes a game, no wonder I won the scoring title."

Presently enjoying a visit to the Truro area, MacKell took in the last five races of last Sunday afternoon's card at the Truro Raceway.

Interviewed at trackside by Atlantic Post Calls' Doug Harkness following Clare MacDonald's win in the feature race with PH Mike, MacKell marvelled that it was around 45 years ago that the same man interviewed him for a Halifax television station. Enjoying conversations with Scott Kane, Kyle Burton, George Fraser, Scott Daniels, Peter Fleck and others in attendance, MacKell appeared pleasantly surprised when Fleck mentioned a famous Boston Bruin line from the 1950s.

"What about that big line - MacKell, Toppizini and McKenny," were Fleck's words.

"Fleming MacKell's All-stars," - an NHL touring team - played the Brookfield Elks at the old Truro Forum before a capacity crowd during early 1960. It proved to be a good flashback as Fleck and MacKell talked about the likes of visiting players Leo Labine, Bob Armstrong, Leo Boivin, Don Simmons, Lowell MacDonald and Stan "Chook" Maxwell as well as local favorites Lyle Bryson, John and Hugh Matheson, the Henderson brothers and Donnie Stevens.

For the record, Fleming MacKell played parts of 13 seasons in the National Hockey League with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. In 745 regular season and playoff games he had 171 goals and 261 assists for 432 points.

The Montreal native enjoyed Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs in 1948-49 and 1949-50 and as his father Jack MacKell played on Stanley Cup winners with the Ottawa Senators in both 1920 and 1921.

MacKell made the first NHL all-star team in 1953 and overall he played in four all-star games. It was 1957-58 that MacKell led all playoff scorers with 19 points.

Interestingly, in checking closely we find that when comparing Fleming MacKell's playoff scoring statistics with players of his era who have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame he has outscored a number of them.

Driving alone non-stop from Montreal, the popular visitor arrived Saturday night in time to enjoy a performance by the Cantabile Singers at the Truro Golf Club. Sunday he watched the Brookfield Elks senior fastball team in two games at Elk Park against Charlottetown while putting quite a number of miles on his impressive looking race bike.

Early Monday the 78-year-old started early as he enjoyed a coffee at Tim

Hortons with star Elk second baseman Chipper Vantassell.

He also visited Roy Burton's standardbred stable in Masstown and it went from there (mostly in high gear) for the candidate for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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