Glenn Hall Honoured by Windsor Spitfires

Windsor Spitfires Glenn Hall Night. Photo by Tim Jarrold - In Play! magazine
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Glenn Hall Honoured by Windsor Spitfires

More than seven decades after playing his final game with the Windsor Spitfires, the banner bearing the name of Glenn Hall was raised to the rafters of the WFCU Centre before the game that saw the Spitfires host the Erie Otters on November 18, 2021.

The now 90-year-old Hall, who went on to a legendary Hockey Hall of Fame career in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks and St. Louis Blues did not attend the ceremony but was featured in a video shown on the WFCU Centre scoreboard during an extended ceremony.

Hall, who was born and raised in Humbolt, Saskatchewan and now lives in Stony Plain, Alberta, arrived in Windsor as a 17-year-old young man and quickly assumed the role of starting goaltender for the Spitfires for two seasons – 1949-50 and 1950-51 before moving on to the professional ranks.

The Spitfires finished in second place in the nine-team Ontario Hockey Association with a 34-13-1 record in the nine team league that also featured teams from such cities as Guelph, Galt (now Cambridge) and St. Catherines. The Spitfires were eliminated from the play-offs by the first place Toronto Marlboros, the eventual Memorial Cup champions that season.

Glenn Hall (Centre photo) won 31 games and posted a goals against average of 3.53 in his rookie season with the Spitfires.

During his second and last season in Windsor with the Spitfires the team finished in fourth place in the OHA with a 32-18-4 record and were eliminated by the Barrie Flyers, who also went on to win the Memorial Cup that season.

The Spitfires were coached by Windsor native Jimmy Skinner during both of Hall’s seasons with the Spitfires. The pair would eventually be reunited in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings, and both were part of Detroit’s 1955 Stanley Cup championship team.

Back then, the Spitfires played their home games at the Windsor Arena and played in the OHA. Among Hall’s teammates during his two seasons in Windsor were Al Arbor.

“It was a great place to play – both the rink and the city,” Hall told this writer in a story that was published in The Hockey News in 2006. “The fans were very loud and energetic and they were probably worth a couple goals a game for us. I don’t think that a lot of teams liked coming to play us at the Windsor Arena not only because we had great teams but because the fans were literally right on top of you.

“And it seemed like almost all the fans smoked back then, and in such a small rink there wold be some haze over the ice during games.”

“The Windsor Arena was an old barn even back then,” Hall continued to talk of the legendary rink that was built in 1926 and was already more than two and a half decades old when he played there. “I think the new rink was a long time coming,” he continued, speaking two years before the WFCU Centre was even constructed. “And our fans back then were tough but fair. They just wanted an honest effort from you and if you weren’t trying your hardest, they would let you know that they weren’t happy with you.

Sometimes, Spits fans were happy with each other too.

“There would be the odd fight in the stands,” Hall recalled in 2006 with a laugh. “Most of the time the fights would happen during stoppages of play while other times it was while we were heading into the dressing room or coming from it.

“And when the fights happened while the game was going on I would never ever allow myself to get distracted,” he offered. “I had to focus on stopping the puck.”

The Spitfires have played at the rink located in Windsor’s east-end since 2008, winning three Memorial Cup championships in the dozen seasons (there was no 2020-2021 due to the ongoing pandemic)

After leaving Windsor in the spring of 1951, Hall played one season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with Indianapolis before starting his celebrated National Hockey League career in the fall of 1952 in Detroit.

In Part 2 of this series Humphrey chronicles Mr. Goalie’s long National Hockey League career.

Check out Tim Jarrold’s photo gallery from Glenn Hall Night at the WFCU Centre.

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