Bryan Fogarty Could’ve Been

bryan_forgartyFourteen 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.

6 thoughts on “Bryan Fogarty Could’ve Been”

  1. There are stories that he had issues as far back as junior. Being that good possibly let him get away with more he should have been. Imagine what he could have done to Orr and Potvin’s junior records if he was more focused.

    I suspect the 17/21 pro teams is because the Muskegon Lumberjacks & Cleveland Lumberjacks are counted as one team and the 3 European teams don’t count at all.

    Or the CBC just can’t count. Just before what would have been his 40th birthday they ran a story claiming he also had 175 NHL games.

  2. I think they can’t count. Or they don’t realize the Euro teams were also pro temas who paid salaries. It wasn’t beer league.

  3. Fogarty was a great talent; he was so good that people were comparing him to You Know Who – Robert Gordon Orr

    A really special player who pissed it all away on booze

  4. Fogarty was one of the best juniors ever. It’s really a shame. Why couldn’t he have toned it down just a little, had a great career, and was still able to enjoy just a few less pops. But for alcoholics, it’s easier said then done. The bottle can really take over.

  5. just as an aside:

    I can recall reading somewhere that a minor hockey official in brantford said that gretzky dominated in minor hockey because he out-thought everyone on the ice whereas fogarty dominated in minor hockey because he simply out-performed everyone on the ice; the kid was an absolute natural.

    but he never achieved what could have been his. Interestingly, I am wondering if Fogarty’s extra-curricular activities were not the primary reason why he was never selected to the canadian national junior team? Or was the kid that bad defensively? I never heard anyone say he was porous without the puck, but you could get away with lax defense in the OHL far more easily than you could against the top european teams at the world juniors. Maybe his offensive talent covered up for his deficiencies in other areas.

    My own view, however, is that the kid would have been dynamite at the world juniors because of his creativity and puck-moving ability (canada wasn’t producing a lot of bobby orr clones – to the extent that anyone could really be a bobby orr clone – in the 1980s).

    just too damn bad because I saw him play in around 1989 with Niagara Falls and he just took the game over like nobody’s business

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