Saturday

Warren Godfrey

Life after hockey can be tough for hockey players of every generation, but especially those average players back in the days of the Original Six. They weren't paid very well, and suddenly in their 30s they found themselves looking for work most often with no education or no trade.

Take Warren Godfrey, for example. He was hard hitting defenseman most notably with the Wings and Bruins in the 1950s and 1960s. He hit so hard they called him "The Rock" or "Rocky" for short. He played in 786 NHL contests, scoring 32 goals and 125 points.

He retired in 1969 after a season in the minor leagues, but he needed to find a job because he needed the money.

One of the jobs he took was as a cement truck driver, even though he had no experience. Author Frank Pagnucco tells us of his steep learning curve.

"Because Rocky Godfrey is the likeable sort that he is, the other drivers took him under their collective wing and taught the ex Red Wing the basics to prepare him for his first solo run. The day arrived and he successfully maneuvered the big truck out of the parking lot, past the cheering fellow drivers urging him on. He wheeled out onto the highway on what seemed to be a flawless maiden voyage. The wail of a police siren brought the run to an unexpected conclusion. Godfrey, it seems, had forgotten to press a certain control, and had motored down the road leaving a liberal wake of wet cement."

Godfrey was not fired over the incident, but he also opted to move on. More often than not he found himself in the restaurant business, operating eateries in Florida, then North Carolina and then Georgia.

Godfrey may have struggled outside of hockey, but the restaurant business was likely a lot less painful than hockey. In his career Godfrey listed his injuries to include "200 stitches in the face, a broken jaw, a broken nose, dislocated shoulders, damaged elbows, cracked ribs, broken fingers, five knee operations, broken toes and 12 missing teeth.

Godfrey, who came to Detroit from Boston as part of the big trade for Terry Sawchuk, was a main stay in the NHL from 1952 through 1963. He continued on until 1969 ("when my knees wouldn't let me play anymore") often shuttling between Detroit and the minor leagues.

6 comments:

Dan,  4:24 PM  

In 1965, I was a college sophomore at E. M. U. and was hired by the Red Wings publicity director to run the "press room" for every game. This allowed my access to Red Wing practices where I became friendly with the likes of Gordie, Alex, and Warren. Warren was such a nice guy and ended up giving me his hockey gloves, which I still have today! I have handed down stories to my daughter about the experiences of being around hockey players and how gently and kind they can be (off the ice). Thanks Warren for one of those stories!

Anonymous,  4:53 PM  

Warren Godfrey was my grandfather and he was amazing. He was tough on us grand kids and he taught us that respect is earned and he earned mine. I am honored to have known him and see what determination can do for a person. Never quit and never back down!

Anonymous,  2:24 PM  

Warren Godfrey was a fine defensive defenceman who was a solid body checker. Unlike today, you had to be something special to play in the Original Six...those guys could really play the game.

grahamgodfrey,  3:36 PM  

Grandfather? must be related my uncle! Went to Detroit on occasion to see games
from Hamilton and Burlington

Anonymous,  2:42 PM  

I recall Warren Godfrey as a Red Wing who also managed a Dairy Queen in the summer off season. My best recollection was the late 50s - early 60s in the west side of Detroit near Davison Ave and Green Lawn Rd. He was friendly.

Joe Panio 8:50 AM  

I went to north fort Myers high school with his son Tony... Rocky and my dad had a sports bar in fort Myers also.... Absolutely one of the nicest men I ever met....

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