Fourteen years ago, Montreal defenceman Bryan Fogarty was in the doghouse of coach Jacques Demers for failing to notify team officials until the morning of a game in Hartford that he had the flu, leaving the Canadiens with only five defencemen. Then, during a team meeting, he was caught reading a newspaper.
Something like this could be considered funny if the player involved wasn’t Bryan Fogarty. Because Bryan Fogarty was a hard-core alcoholic. Had been since his teen years.
Fogarty was one of those players in junior who only come along once every blue moon. A big-time, record-breaking star who broke defencemen marks by eclipsing Bobby Orr’s goal scoring record of 38 with 47, and Denis Potvin’s point total with 155. He won all the hardware in his final season in junior, 1988-99, taking home CHL Player of the Year, CHL Defenceman of the Year, and first team all-star.
Naturally scouts drooled, and Fogarty was drafted ninth overall by the Quebec Nordiques. But things didn’t quite work out the way everyone thought. In Quebec, he played parts of only three seasons before being dealt to Pittsburgh and was promptly sent to the minors. Then it was on to Montreal, where he played 34 games over two seasons with the Habs. From there it was again the minors, different teams in Europe, and various minor leagues throughout North America. All the while, his hockey career could be labelled surprising and mediocre. This was not the star from junior people were now seeing.
All in all, the guy everyone thought was going to tear it up on NHL ice played for 21 different pro hockey teams (mostly minors) between 1989 and 2001. Newspaper reports from the time say 17 teams, but I count 21. It was too many teams, too little time, too few points, and not much impact at all. He was just another ordinary player, only with a big problem. Other things had got in the way.
Bryan Fogarty died in Myrtle Beach in 2002 from cardiac arrest. He was only 32. It’s all very sad, very tragic.
(From stardom in junior to life in a suitcase, Bryan Fogarty played for these professional teams after ripping it up in junior: Quebec Nordiques, Halifax Citadels, New Haven Nighthawks, Muskegon Lumberjacks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Cleveland Lumberjacks, Atlanta Knights, Las Vegas Thunder, Kansas City Blades, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Moose, Detroit Vipers, HC Davos, HC Milano, Hannover Scorpions, Indianapolis Ice, Baton Rouge Kingfish, St. John’s Maple Leafs, Knoxville Speed, Huntsville Tornato, and Elmira Jackals.)
Fogarty’s NHL numbers: 156 games, 22 goals, 52 assists, 119 penalty minutes.