Bobby Orr: The Goal

Posted: January 15, 2013 in History, Hockey

This is when the Bruins’ Bobby Orr learned to fly. Everyone knew he could fly down the ice. But on May 10, 1970, he defied gravity, too.

Gordon Allan Wilson, better known as Phat Wilson, was perhaps the original offensive defenceman. He led the Port Arthur Bearcats to three Allan Cup championships, beating elite teams from Toronto and Montreal in the process.

It wasn’t long before the NHL took notice. Several Bearcat players were courted by NHL teams. At least one took the bait — Bobby Connors, the Bearcat Phat clicked so well with.

Here is his writeup on the Hockey Hall of Fame website:
There are few men who have done more for hockey in their native communities than has Gordon Allan “Phat” Wilson. A product of the Lakehead, Wilson joined the local church league hockey team at St. Andrew’s in 1914 before he learned to skate. He spent his first year as a sub but came back the next year with much improved skating abilities and took his position on defence. Wilson spent the following two seasons playing in the local junior hockey circuit before joining the War Veterans Senior Hockey Club in 1918.
With two seasons of senior hockey under his belt, he tried his luck in the NOHA with Iroquois Falls in 1921-22. The team made it to the Allan Cup playdowns, eventually losing to the Toronto Granites. Wilson returned home and stayed with amateur hockey, eventually guiding Port Arthur to the Allan Cup in 1925, 1926, and 1929. His play did not go unnoticed by the pros and he was offered contracts with Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto but turned them all down.He was noted as an all-time great amateur player whose long rushes down ice contributed to his winning the senior scoring title as a defenceman. Although he retired from active play in 1933 at the age of 37, he stayed very active in the hockey and sports scene in Port Arthur. He died July 26, 1970, at age 75, and is buried in the Riverview Cemetery in Thunder Bay.

While Phat had an admired hockey career and a long, productive life after hockey, the same cannot be said for his friend, Bobby Connors. He bounced around the NHL for several seasons, playing for the New York Americans and the Detroit Cougars of the NHL, but never burning up the league.

During a visit home in the offseason, he drowned at age 26 near Port Arthur  on July 27, 1931 — 39 years less a day before the man with whom he made so much magic on the ice.