Danny Grant was a New Brunswick legend.
The Maritime Hockey League’s junior A Fredericton Red Wings joined many in mourning Grant’s death which occurred on Thanksgiving Monday.
He was 73.
‘There is so much history to talk about when it comes to Danny Grant and all that he did to represent Fredericton and New Brunswick as a professional hockey player and ambassador,’ said Red Wings president and governor Roger Shannon. ‘There are generations of people in Fredericton who grew up idolizing Danny Grant. We couldn’t wait to see the NHL summaries in the newspaper or watch him on Hockey Night in Canada. He was one of our own and he continued to give back to this community long after he retired. Our hearts go out to his wife Linda and his family. We lost a legend.’
The Red Wings joined the MHL this year and carried on the nickname in recognition of Grant’s early years in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings.
The old Fredericton Red Wings were a powerhouse in the New Brunswick Junior Hockey League, but had been dormant for 40 years before Shannon and company revived the nickname and brought the brand back to the Capital City.
Grant’s legacy is part of the new junior A program.
‘We have an opportunity to ensure a new generation of hockey fans knows about our storied past when it comes to players like Danny Grant,’ Shannon said. ‘He’s a player who has reached the pinnacle of the NHL from a team and individual point of view. Danny won a Stanley Cup in Montreal and was a 50-goal scorer with Detroit and was in the same breath as Phil Esposito and Guy Lafleur during his big seasons. That is significant and we want today’s players to understanding just how much of an impact Danny made as a player, but more importantly as a person in our city. We wanted to ensure when junior A hockey came back to Fredericton, we were honouring Danny for what he did.’
Fitting enough, the Red Wings play out of the Grant*Harvey Centre, named in recognition of Grant and Fred (Buster) Harvey. The two Fredericton products were teammates for a number of seasons with the Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings.
Grant left Fredericton and the only life he knew to play for the Peterborough Petes in what was then known as the Ontario Hockey Association. He compiled 262 points in four seasons before catching the eye of the fabled Montreal Canadiens, the franchise he made his NHL debut with in 1965-66, appearing in a single game.
The offensive-minded Grant then spent a season in the Central Professional Hockey League with Montreal’s affiliate before playing in 22 games in 1967-68 that included 10 playoff games and a Stanley Cup ring following a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues.
He was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars during that off-season and Grant flourished, playing six seasons and establishing himself as a legitimate marksman through 1973-74. A stunning trade for Minnesota native Henry Boucha sent Grant to Detroit, where he exploded for 50 goals in his first season in the Motor City.
Injuries hampered Grant toward the end of his career when he finished with the Los Angeles Kings, retiring from the NHL after the 1978-79 season. He would amass 535 points over 736 games.
‘The 50-goal mark is still a celebrated feat in today’s NHL despite all the trends towards offence and we were all swept up in Danny’s march toward that milestone,’ said Shannon. ‘It was such an exciting time to see a local person reach those heights. I believe Danny is the greatest NHLer we have ever produced from New Brunswick. His affiliation with junior hockey in Fredericton and the Red Wing connections are the blood that runs through our new organization. We have a great opportunity to celebrate the life and career of Danny Grant in an arena co-named after him in a city that loved him. There is so much history surrounding Danny.’
After retiring from the NHL, little did Grant know his professional career wasn’t over.
When the Fredericton Express came to the American Hockey League, Grant was coaxed out of retirement and played 18 games in the 1981-82 season.
He would go on to coach locally at the senior and midget AAA levels, giving back to the game he loved and the community where he grew up.
Shannon has made it very clear the return of the Red Wings to the Fredericton sporting landscape is a tribute to so many names who helped pave the way for hockey in the city.
Two of the city’s arenas are named after professional hockey players including Grant, Harvey and the celebrated Willie O’Ree, who was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.
Grant and Harvey are both in the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and Fredericton Wall of Fame.
As a tribute to Grant’s memory, the Red Wings will wear a commemorative helmet sticker.
MHL fans will get a chance to see the decal Thursday when Fredericton hosts the Miramichi Timberwolves at the Grant*Harvey Centre.
Game time is 7 p.m.