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Brian Conacher
Brian Conacher
Left Wing
Number: 24
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 197
Shoots: Left
Born: Aug 31, 1941
Birthplace: Toronto, ON, Canada
Acquired: Rights traded to Detroit by Toronto for cash on August 20, 1971.
By his own admission, Brian Conacher became more famous because of his surname than for his own exploits as a professional hockey player. His father was the legendary Lionel Conacher, voted Canada's top athlete for the first half of the century.

Conacher came up through the Upper Canada College system before joining the Toronto Marlboros organization. He got his first taste of NHL action during the 1961-62 season when he dressed for one game with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Conacher then enrolled at the University of Western Ontario and simultaneously joined the Canadian National Team in 1963-64 and represented his country at the 1964 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Canada finished out of the medals, with a disappointing fourth place finish. The Soviet Union took the gold medal, and it was at that point when Conacher and others on the Canadian team sounded the initial warning as to how good the Russians really were. Despite Conacher's contention that they were on a par with NHL players, his words fell on deaf ears. Those who chose to listen, simply laughed at the notion. Ironically, eight years later Conacher was the television colour commentator for the famous 1972 Canada-Soviet Union Summit Series as all of Canada got to see first-hand just how strong the Russians were. Nobody was laughing during or after the conclusion of the hard-fought eight game series, narrowly won by Team Canada.

Conacher's pro career got started in 1965-66 as a member of the AHL's Rochester Americans, who at that time were affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 69 games, Conacher scored 14 goals and 30 points while being called up by the Leafs for two games.

In 1966-67, Conacher was awarded full-time duty with the Maple Leafs. He had 14 goals and 27 points in 66 games. It was that year when the Leafs went on their magical run to the Stanley Cup finals, beating the favoured Montreal Canadiens four-games-to-two.

Conacher returned the following year, but the aging Leafs failed to even make the playoffs in 1968, which created a tremendous amount of turmoil within the organization. It was a while before Conacher played in the NHL again, mostly of his own choosing. But an opportunity did arise in 1971-72, when he started 22 games for the Detroit Red Wings. He then decided to give the new WHA a shot, joining the Ottawa Nationals for 69 games, scoring eight goals and 27 points. Conacher also played three games of hockey for the Mohawks Valley Comets of the NAHL, the league which provided the inspiration for the now-famous "Slap Shot" movie. In the summer of 1975, he was named the general manager of Mohawk Valley, while just 33 years old. Conacher muses that the Comets' team bus was in the movie, after being rented to the film's production team.

He soon left his post with Mohawk Valley and was appointed general manager of the WHA's Indianapolis Racers before moving on to the same job with the Edmonton Oilers in 1977-78. When Peter Pocklington bought out majority owner Nelson Skalbania, Conacher was offered a lucrative buyout package in August 1978, which he gladly accepted.

In 1985, Conacher was managing director of the operations facilities at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, where he remained for four years before accepting the post as the chief executive of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in 1989. His next task was running Maple Leafs Gardens on a day-to-day basis in 1992 until the club moved to the Air Canada Centre in 1999.

Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame


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