Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Mom's Friend, Fleming MacKell

On October 19, two-time Stanley Cup winner Fleming MacKell passed away at the age of 86. MacKell played thirteen seasons in the NHL and was named a First Team All-Star after the 1952/53 season in which he scored 27 goals. With 369 points in 665 games and another 63 in 80 playoff games, MacKell was an under-rated NHL star of the 1950's. 
The photo above was graciously given by MacKell to my Mother only a few years ago. My recently retired Mom was then a teller at the bank that he did his business with in Ajax, Ont. She must have struck a chord with Mr. MacKell as he would make a point of visiting only her counter every time he came in. She knew him as a friendly old gentleman, and not as an old hockey player. Once she discovered he was an ex-NHLer she of course told him about her hockey obsessed son. 
When she shared with me that she had an old NHL veteran as a bank client and asked me if I had ever heard of Fleming MacKell, I predictably replied yes. I shared with her how he and his father Jack were the second ever father/son combo to play on Stanley Cup champions after Lester and Muzz Patrick. I told her how in 1958 he had a magical playoff run when he scored an amazing 19 points in 12 games for the Bruins and how he won two Cups with the Maple Leafs before his 22nd birthday. On one of his later visits to the bank Mr. MacKell brought my Mom this terrific personalized photo to pass along to me. He even took the time to write on the back of the photo "Harry Lumley" and "Al Dewsbury" indicating the other two players shown. I especially enjoy how he wrote "Thank You Mom" at the bottom-left of the photo.
Fleming MacKell, Hockey Blueline Nov. 1958
Soon after this, my Mom told me that Mr. MacKell said he would be having some surgery done and would be moving from the Ajax area. That was about the last time she saw him. Mr. MacKell did however send her a few letters afterwards to stay in touch. I knew I had to repay his generosity and kindness to my Mother and me. I went through my collection of old hockey books and paraphernalia and found a hockey guide from the early 1950's that pictured a head shot of MacKell on the cover along with Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard. I thought he may like this so I packaged up the book and sent it to the address his letters had been sent from in Montreal.
My Mom received one more letter from Mr. MacKell and in it he mentioned that he had indeed received the book I sent him. After recovering from his surgery of a few years ago, he was living in Hawkesbury, Ontario when he peacefully passed away. I'd like to think he enjoyed the book I sent him and that it brought him back even one nice memory of a long ago time.

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