Detroit Red Wings Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS
Carl Brewer
Carl Brewer
Number: 5
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 180
Born: Oct 21, 1938
Birthplace: Toronto, ON, Canada
Acquired: Rights traded to Detroit by Toronto with Frank Mahovlich, Pete Stemkowski and Garry Unger for Norm Ullman, Floyd Smith, Paul Henderson and Doug Barrie on March 3, 1968.
Nobody ever knew what Carl Brewer was going to do next. On the ice, he was a tough but agile defenseman who could stick-handle with a deceptive creativity. He had the ability to cross the opposing blue line and then pause, using dekes to ward off checkers, waiting for a teammate to get into the open for one of his feathery passes. In the defensive zone, he was adept at getting in an opponent's way, using clean tactics and not so clean tactics, such as cutting the palm out of his gloves to facilitate a sneaky kind of holding. Off the ice, he was a scholar and a freethinker who retired several times from hockey, only to turn up later playing on different teams or in different countries.

Brewer played his junior hockey with the Toronto Marlboros and earned his first pro experience as a 19 year old, playing two games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1957-58 season. The next year he became a regular with the Leafs. Brewer's speed and agility were well known, but his tendency to end up in the penalty box was a problem, especially early in his career. Twice he led the NHL in penalty minutes, in 1959-60 sitting out the equivalent of two and a half games. He had a trigger temper and often took penalties by retaliating after hits and jibes from other players.

The Leafs' savvy defensive standouts Brewer, Allan Stanley, Bob Baun and Tim Horton were the foundation of the Toronto team that captured the Stanley Cup for three consecutive seasons beginning in 1961-62. Brewer was selected to the First All-Star Team following Toronto's championship run in 1962-63. Even with the success or perhaps because of it Brewer found the pressure of playing professional hockey in a city like Toronto overwhelming. He was a tense man during his time with the Leafs. He disliked media attention and the added pressure of playing in front of hockeymad fans didn't sit well with a player who already pushed himself to be the best at his position. He also had conflicts with management, especially coach Punch Imlach. Brewer first retired following the 1960 season, upset about $100 he felt he was owed by the team to cover medical expenses. He announced he was going to play football at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where he had been taking courses toward his bachelor of arts degree. The Leafs eventually convinced him to return and gave him $200.

During training camp in 1965, Brewer had an on ice disagreement with teammate Johnny Bower that continued into the dressing room. Imlach sent the defenseman home for a few days "to think about it." Brewer did think about it, and decided to retire from professional hockey. He would stay out of the NHL for four years.

He decided he wanted to play for Canada's national team in 1966 but had to struggle, again with Imlach, to regain his amateur standing. Imlach, who could hardly stand in the way of a man who wanted to play for his country, finally allowed Brewer to play for the national team, which he did for one year. He then spent a season as a player-coach with the Muskegon, Michigan, team in the International Hockey League, earning a share of the gate because of his star status. His next stop was in Finland again as a player-coach with the Finnish national team while he took courses at the University of Helsinki.

While Brewer was away, his professional rights were traded by the Leafs to the Detroit Red Wings, along with Frank Mahovlich, Pete Stemkowski and Garry Unger, for Norm Ullman, Paul Henderson and Floyd Smith. It took Detroit manager Sid Abel more than a year to sign Brewer, which he did one hour before those rights would have reverted to the Maple Leafs. Brewer was partially convinced by Mahovlich and Bob Baun, former teammates in Toronto whose careers were rejuvenated with the Red Wings. Mahovlich, who had wilted under Imlach's intense pressure in Toronto as well, called Brewer in Finland several times to encourage his return to the NHL. Brewer had an incredible season in 1969-70 with the Red Wings, earning a place on the league's Second All-Star Team. In the summer of 1970, he sent a two-paragraph letter to Abel setting out his retirement, an announcement that shocked his teammates and management. He did return the next year, but this time to Scotty Bowman's St. Louis Blues, where he played for two years before retiring again. He joined the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association in 1973-74 and played for one year. In 1979-80, after almost six years out of the game, he made a comeback with the Maple Leafs. "I guess I've always had it on my mind," the 41 year old said, "to die a Maple Leaf." He played for 20 games before quitting for good.

Player agent and union leader Alan Eagleson had been instrumental in Brewer's reinstatement as an amateur in 1966. After his career finally ended, however, Brewer began to investigate some of Eagleson's business dealings. Brewer's findings led to Eagleson's eventual conviction on a number of fraud related charges. The former head of the players' association was jailed in 1998, thanks in large measure to Brewer's efforts on behalf of the alumni association.

Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80