Fred Stanfield

No one really noticed Fred Stanfield, but he was a top player with the Boston Bruins in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Stanfield was seen as a throw-in in the big Phil Esposito-Pit Martin/Gilles Marotte trade of 1967. Esposito would go on to rewrite the NHL record book, with a lot of help from Bobby Orr.

Stanfield was buried in the Chicago system, toiling behind the likes of Stan Mikita, Bill Hay and Espo. In Boston he would always play second fiddle to Espo, but assumed the number 2 centerman role on a line with Johnny Bucyk and Pie McKenzie.

In Boston Stanfield became a consistent 25 goal, 75 point threat. Though his numbers were dwarfed by several superstars in Boston, Stanfield's contributions were greatly appreciated and recognized.

"Anywhere else, we would really be crowing over what Freddie has been doing," said Boston coach Harry Sinden in the February 1970 edition of Hockey Pictorial magazine.

"In one sense he is the key to our team."

Wow! That's quite the claim given Esposito and Orr's spot in Bruins' lore.

"Orr and Espo are expected to be important key figures," Sinden reasoned. "However, we win many of our games on the work of our second line. Our second line is the best second line in the NHL. Most clubs put their checking line on our big Esposito line and hope they play evenly against the second line with their second line. They figure that their first line may outscore our third or checking trio, but they almost always under-rate Stanfield's muckers."

In addition to supplying a physical element, Stanfield's role was and to distribute the puck to his high scoring linemates.

"It's true we move the puck around pretty well," said Stanfield when describing his line's play. "I can make soft passes or hard ones. With guys who can go like Chief and Pie, I throw it to them real hard. They can reach them, and it gives them more time to make the play. We keep the passes off the ice and that's to our advantage because the puck doesn't get blocked by anybody's stick that way."

Unlike a lot of his Boston teammates, Stanfield did not take a lot of penalties. But does not mean he did not play physically.

"Fred can hit when he was to, but he doesn't look for trouble. This works out pretty well because Pie seems to stir up enough fuss for that line," said Milt Schmidt, Bruins legend and GM.

Stanfield, who had 4 brothers who all play professional hockey, had a reputation as a speedy playmaker, a fine faceoff man and a strong specialty teams player. He showed up to play every night, earning him the nickname Steady Freddy.

He also earned two Stanley Cups with the Bruins, in 1970 and again in 1972.

Stanfield was traded to Minnesota in exchange for goaltender Gilles Gilbert. The Bruins were looking to shore up their goaltending thanks to the departure of Gerry Cheevers and Ed Johnstone. Minnesota was hoping Stanfield could up his production even more on a number one line out west, but he never clicked with any linemates and faltered offensively.

After a season and a half Stanfield was moved to Buffalo where he played quietly for 3 and 1/2 years before his NHL tenure came to an end.

Stanfield played 914 NHL games, scoring 211 goals, 405 assist and 616 points. He added 21 goals and 56 points in 106 Stanley Cup playoff contests.

Fred Stanfield was a very good hockey player who happened to find himself in the perfect with the Boston Bruins.


Anonymous,  8:04 PM  

I loved that second line!!!!

Couple of things:

1. Stanfield played the left point next to Orr on the power play. Good slap shot and was defensive-minded enough to do the job there.

2. Eddie Johnston's last name is spelled wrong (no E at the end)

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