Lidio "Lee" Fogolin Sr.

Last week I wrote a piece about Lee Fogolin, the veteran Edmonton Oilers defenseman from the dynasty days of the mid-1980s.

Did you know that Fogolin was a second generation NHL star?

Lidio "Lee" Fogolin Sr. played 427 games in the NHL, mostly in the 1950s. The statistics tell us he played 2 and 1/2 seasons in Detroit before playing 5 and 1/2 seasons in Chicago, where son Lee Jr. was born. Father and son played very similar stay-at-home, hard hitting styles of defense. Lee Sr. scored 10 goals and 58 points in his career. He got into 28 playoff games, scoring 2 assists.

I was not satisfied with the little bit of information the statistical record provides. I wanted to know more about Lee Fogolin Sr. I turned to an old book I found in a used bookstore once upon a time - Frank Pagnucco's Heroes: Stars of Hockey's Golden Era, published in 1985.

Pagnucco interviewed Fogolin, asking him to describe himself.

"They always teamed a hitting defenceman with a rushing defenceman," Fogolin explained. Despite strong skating and a hard shot, Red Wings boss Jack Adams welcomed him to the NHL in 1948 saying "Listen, kid, I got enough fancy pants on this team. I need guys who'll stay back there and hit 'em.

Fogolin took the advice the heart, and lasted nearly a decade in the league. He became a feared bodychecker.

Fogolin remembered one big hit on Dean Prentice.

"He passed the puck and made the fatal mistake of admiring the beautiful pass he made. I was right inside our blue line. I took one step. I used to hit with the shoulder . . . and I can still remember . . . I was scared really. I caught him with my shoulder in the breastbone and down he went. I said, 'Oh my god, I think I killed him.'"

Fogolin was forced out of the NHL by 1957 after breaking his elbow twice. He tried to extend his career playing pro hockey in Calgary, but soon retired. He later returned to his home town of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He tried coaching locally, but soon became involved in the service station business before working for a steel firm. He would regret not staying more involved in the game after retiring as a pro.

But his career highlight in hockey was still to come. His son would soon make the NHL, and, unlike his father, would lift the Stanley Cup over his head.

"In all my years of hockey I never worked myself into such a frenzy," Fogolin told Pagnucco. "I wanted to see him win a Stanley Cup. The ultimate thing in your career is winning the Stanley Cup and getting your name on it."


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