Brian Spencer

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Brian Spencer
Born (1949-09-03)September 3, 1949
Fort St. James, BC, CAN
Died June 3, 1988(1988-06-03) (aged 38)
Riviera Beach, FL, USA
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Left Wing
Played for Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders
Buffalo Sabres
Pittsburgh Penguins
NHL Draft 55th overall, 1969
Toronto Maple Leafs
Playing career 1969–1980

Brian Roy "Spinner" Spencer (September 3, 1949 – June 3, 1988) was a Canadian professional ice hockey left winger. He played a career total of 10 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL). He played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Career[change | change source]

Spencer was drafted 55th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft. On December 12, 1970, He was called up to play for the Leafs in what would be his first NHL game on television. Spencer phoned his father Roy in British Columbia to tell him to watch the game that night on Hockey Night in Canada. There was an interview with Spencer between periods of the game. However, in British Columbia, instead of the Toronto Maple Leafs/Chicago Black Hawks game being shown, CBC Television aired a game featuring the Vancouver Canucks versus the California Golden Seals instead. Roy was infuriated by this and drove 135 kilometres (84 mi) to Prince George, where the closest CBC Television station, CKPG-TV, is located. When he arrived there, he ordered station staff, at gunpoint, to broadcast the Maple Leafs/Black Hawks game instead. The station did put the game on, but as Roy left the station, he was confronted by the RCMP. After he had a short stand-off with the RCMP, Roy Spencer was shot and killed.[1] He played 95 regular season games with the Maple Leafs and also spent time with their developmental team, the Tulsa Oilers.

On June 6, 1972, during the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft, Spencer was claimed by the New York Islanders from the Maple Leafs.[2]

He would play 2 seasons with the Islanders before he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Doug Rombough on March 10, 1974.[2] During his time with the Sabres, he had his best offensive production. He was able to record 12 goals and 29 assists in the 1974–75 season. He was a fan favourite in Buffalo, fans loved his hustle, aggressive play, and hitting ability.

On September 20, 1977, the Sabres traded Spencer to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Ron Schock.[2] During his time with the Penguins, his offensive play declined drastically. His last seasons in the NHL came in 1978-79. He was sent down to the AHL to play for the Binghamton Dusters, Springfield Indians, and Hershey Bears and then he retired in 1980.

Death[change | change source]

After Spencer retired from hockey, he struggled with a life of drugs and violence. In 1987, he was charged murder and kidnapping and he faced the death penalty.[3] Former Sabres teammate Rick Martin testified as a character witness at the trial. In March 1988, a not guilty verdict was returned by the jury and Spencer vowed to change his life around.

Even though he was acquitted, his life still continued to spiral out of control and on June 3, 1988, Spencer was shot and killed at gunpoint in a robbery following a crack cocaine purchase in Riviera Beach, Florida.[4] Two men were charged in his murder. Larry Willie Johnson was sentenced to 40 years in prison and Leon Daniels was sentenced to 18 years in prison.[5]

He was survived by five children from two marriages, and his twin brother, Byron. A book about Spencer's life called Gross Misconduct: The Life of Spinner Spencer, was written by Martin O'Malley. The book was later adapted into a made-for-television movie in Canada called Gross Misconduct by Atom Egoyan.[6]

Career statistics[change | change source]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1966-67 Estevan Bruins SJHL - - - - - - - - - -
1967-68 Regina Pats WCJHL 23 1 2 3 12 - - - - -
1967-68 Calgary Centennials WCJHL 34 13 10 23 27 - - - - -
1968-69 Swift Current Broncos WCJHL 53 19 29 48 120 4 3 1 4 14
1969–70 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 9 0 0 0 12 - - - - -
1969-70 Tulsa Oilers CHL 66 13 19 32 186 - - - - -
1970-71 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 50 9 15 24 115 6 0 1 1 17
1970–71 Tulsa Oilers CHL 23 6 8 14 103 - - - - -
1971–72 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 36 1 5 6 65 - - - - -
1971–72 Tulsa Oilers CHL 20 7 7 14 115 - - - - -
1972–73 New York Islanders NHL 78 14 24 38 90 - - - - -
1973–74 New York Islanders NHL 54 5 16 21 65 - - - - -
1973-74 Buffalo Sabres NHL 13 3 2 5 4 - - - - -
1974-75 Buffalo Sabres NHL 73 12 29 41 77 16 0 4 4 8
1975-76 Buffalo Sabres NHL 77 13 26 39 70 9 1 0 1 4
1976-77 Buffalo Sabres NHL 77 14 15 29 55 6 0 0 0 0
1977–78 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 79 9 11 20 81 - - - - -
1978–79 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 7 0 0 0 0 - - - - -
1978–79 Binghamton Dusters AHL 39 5 9 14 58 - - - - -
1979–80 Springfield Indians AHL 9 1 1 2 0 - - - - -
1979–80 Hershey Bears AHL 40 0 4 4 23 - - - - -
NHL totals 553 80 143 223 634 37 1 5 6 29

References[change | change source]

  1. "A father of an NHL player held up a TV station to force them to show his son's game". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Brian Spencer - Notes". NHL. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  3. "The Case Against Brian Spencer: One woman's testimony could mean a death sentence for a former hockey player accused of murder". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  4. "Ex-nhl Player Shot To Death". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  5. "Hockey Player`s Killer Gets 40 Years". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  6. "Gross Misconduct: The Life of Brian Spencer". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2014-10-20.

Other websites[change | change source]