Left-winger Val Fonteyne was a solid two-way player whose unselfish approach to the game earned him the respect of his teammates. He was also one of the cleanest players in the league, drawing only 13 minor penalties in a career that lasted 820 games between 1959 and 1972.
The native of Wetaskiwin, Alberta played junior for three years with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WCJHL. He next played a year of senior hockey with the Kelowna Packers then spent four years skating for the Seattle Americans/Totems of the WHL. During his last two years with the Totems, he registered a total of 156 points and was placed on the WHL Coast Division first all-star team.
The Seattle club was not affiliated with an NHL team so Fonteyne assumed he was destined for a productive career in the minors. His fortunes shifted when he was recommended to the Detroit Red Wings by the coach of their Edmonton farm team, Bud Poile.
Fonteyne looked solid while playing 69 games as a rookie in 1959-60. In all, he played four years in Motown and helped the team reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1961. The New York Rangers in the 1963 Intra-League Draft claimed the hard-working winger. He formed an effective forward unit with Don Marshall and Vic Hadfield in 1963-64 then found himself back in Detroit part way through the next season. In 1965-66 he was a consistent performer for the Wings playing with Bryan Watson and Parker McDonald. That spring he played 12 post-season matches while helping Detroit reach the Stanley Cup finals. Fonteyne split the 1966-67 season between the NHL and the minors before being claimed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the expansion draft.
Fonteyne played five years with the Pens and set career highs with 34 points in 1967-68 and 12 goals in 1968-69. He was often teamed on the same penalty killing line with Nick Harbaruk and Ron Schock and also skated alongside Andy Bathgate. Fonteyne was also among the league's least penalized players and once played 185 straight games without drawing so much as a minor penalty.
In 1972-73, the likeable winger joined the Alberta/Edmonton Oilers of the WHA and played his last two pro seasons there before retiring in 1974. Fonteyne was offered a chance to scout for several pro clubs but no longer wished to travel extensively.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame