|5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
185 lb (84 kg)
|Teams||Toronto Maple Leafs|
New York Islanders
|Born||September 3, 1949,|
Fort St. James, British Columbia
|Died||June 2 1988 (aged 38),|
|NHL Draft||Rnd 5, 55th overall, 1969|
Toronto Maple Leafs
|Pro Career||1969 – 1979|
Brian Roy "Spinner" Spencer (September 3, 1949 in Fort St. James, British Columbia, Canada – June 2, 1988 in Riviera Beach, Florida) was a Canadian Professional ice hockey player who played 10 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Career[edit | edit source]
Brian Spencer was drafted in the 5th Round, 55th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1969 NHL Entry Draft. When he was called up to play with the Leafs, in what would be his first NHL game, he called his father Roy Spencer in British Columbia to tell him to watch the game that night on Hockey Night in Canada. Spencer was to be interviewed between periods of the game. However, a Vancouver Canucks game was aired instead of the Maple Leafs. Infuriated, Roy Spencer drove 135 kilometres to the closest CBC station in Prince George, British Columbia. When he arrived he ordered them at gunpoint to broadcast the Maple Leafs game instead. The station complied but as Roy Spencer left the station he was confronted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After a brief stand-off Roy Spencer was shot and killed.
After a few seasons with Toronto and the New York Islanders, Spencer was acquired by the Buffalo Sabres. Spencer had his best offensive production in a Sabres uniform when he scored 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) in 1974–75. Spencer played well in Buffalo and was extremely popular with the fans at Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium. His hustle, aggressive play, and hitting ability was something the fans admired. Spencer developed into a solid two-way player. He would however be dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins in September 1977.
His offensive production fell as he took on the role of a checking forward with the Penguins. Spencer's last NHL season came in 1978–79 when he played 7 games for Pittsburgh. He then finished his playing career in the AHL (Binghamton, Springfield and Hershey) and retired after the 1979–80 season.
Death[edit | edit source]
After hockey, Spencer ran into some rough times. He submersed himself into a life of drugs and violence. In 1987 he was charged with kidnapping and murder and faced the death penalty. Family and friends, including ex-teammates gathered around him and tried to help him through those rough times. The lead attorney in the case was Barry A. Weinstein and the lead investigator was Leon Wright. Both men were members of the capital division of the Office of the Public Defender of Palm Beach County and in their years at the public defender's office, they never lost a client to the death penalty. The jury deliberated and ruled with a not guilty verdict in 1988 and Spencer vowed to change his life. Following 11 NHL seasons, two marriages and five children, he moved to Florida. Three months later he was robbed at gunpoint buying crack cocaine in Riviera Beach, Florida, and was shot and killed.
[edit | edit source]
- Brian Spencer's profile at hockeydb.com
- Brian Spencer page at Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association
- IMDB page for "Gross Misconduct" (1993) - a Canadian TV movie based on Spencer's life
References[edit | edit source]
- Players:The Ultimate A-Z Guide of Everyone Who Has Ever Played in the NHL by Andrew Podnieks, ISBN 0–385–25999–9
- Penguin's Profiles: Pittsburgh's Boys of Winter. O'Brien, James P. 1994, Retrieved 17 Nov. 2006.