Last year I was in contact with a fellow named Gyle Konotopetz, who at one time was a terrific and ultra-creative sports columnist with the Calgary Herald before moving to the states, and now, I think, is up in Victoria. Gyle had done a piece in the Herald about Danny Gallivan, and when I wrote about Danny later on, I mentioned Gyle’s article. Lo and behold, Gyle emailed me just to say hi, which was really nice, and which also blew me away considering how talented the guy is and how I had admired him when I lived in Calgary.
Gyle told me he was working on a book about a legendary minor-league player named Guyle Fielder, whom everyone thought should have been a star in the NHL, but for some reason, stayed in the minors. Why would someone shun the limelight? Why would someone not want to play in the NHL and be a huge star? I wondered for years, as many, I’m sure, have.
So who better to ask than Gyle Konotopetz.
“Detroit didn’t want to release Fielder but he asked for his release anyway. In his six games on Howe’s line, the line didn’t have a single point. They both needed the puck to be effective and didn’t click together. Fielder thought he’d have been better off on another line. The year he was there, he was being touted as a rookie of the year candidate (he’s had 122 points in the Western League the previous year).
“He was an all-round athlete, scratch golfer, and pool shark. In Seattle, he had a better salary, he made a lot of money playing pool, and he was able to golf the year round. A couple of years after going back to Seattle, Punch Imlach flew to Seattle to offer him a contract with the Leafs and he wouldn’t take it because he was enjoying his lifestyle in Seattle. A lot of Western Leaguers in those days refused contracts from the NHL.
“Fielder should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Some players would go on his line and double or triple their goal scoring. He lives down in Mesa. Guyle’s uncle, Al Fielder, was president of the Western Hockey League and although Guyle hasn’t said so, I think his uncle used his influence to keep him in the WHL where he was a big draw everywhere.”
Guyle says his book is stalled at the moment, but if he ever gets it finished, be sure to check it out. This guy is a superstar journalist, and Guyle Fielder is a fascinating subject for sure.