Fred Williams (ice hockey)

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Fred Williams
Born (1956-07-01) July 1, 1956 (age 60)
Saskatoon, SK, CAN
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for Detroit Red Wings
NHL Draft 4th overall, 1976
Detroit Red Wings
WHA Draft 26th overall, 1976
New England Whalers
Playing career 1976–1982

Frederick Richard "Freddy" Williams (born July 1, 1956 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) is a retired professional ice hockey centre. He was drafted in the 1st round (4th overall) by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1976 NHL draft and 26th overall in the third round of the World Hockey Association draft, by the Hartford Whalers. Williams played in only 44 games at the NHL level. He is the older brother of former NHL player Gord Williams.

Hockey Career[edit]

Major Junior Hockey[edit]

An explosive skater with outstanding stick-handling skill, Fred Williams began his career towards the pro ranks as a 15-year-old in major junior hockey in the Western Canada Hockey League as a centre for his hometown Saskatoon Blades in the 1971–72 season. It was unusual for players of Williams' age to play in the major junior ranks in particular because of size and experience of older players who were ultimately seeking draft positions in the NHL or at the time, the World Hockey Association. However, Williams, being younger than the majority of players he played with and against, had unusual skill and size for his age, and made the Saskatoon Blades roster after his first training camp. Despite this, Williams had mediocre statistics in his first two seasons in the WCHL with only 41 points in a 121 games. However, in the following three seasons as he became a more experienced player, Williams would score 36, 70, and 118 points. His efforts guided the Saskatoon Blades to two trips to the playoffs, driving the Blades to the league finals two years in a row, with 63 total playoff points over 37 games. Interestingly, despite having some marquee players that season, Saskatoon would not win the championship and to this day, still have not won a WHL championship cup. During the 1975-76 WCHL season, Williams was on of the top assist getters in the WCHL with 87, only behind the likes of top players such as Bernie Federko who would go on to illustrious success in the NHL ranks. During his draft year, Williams' excellent skating ability, his solid hockey sense and a consistent scoring touch, he attracted the attention of the Detroit Red Wings, who opted to draft Williams as their first round pick, fourth to be selected overall, in the 1976 NHL draft.[1] The same year, the World Hockey Association's Hartford Whalers drafted Williams 26th overall, in the third round of their draft. Interestingly, the disparity between the NHL's Red Wings' and the WHA's Whalers' draft positions for Williams would guide him to accept a contract offer and an almost guaranteed roster spot on the Red Wings for the 1976-77 NHL season.

NHL Debut and Minor Leagues[edit]

Despite a strong Red Wings training camp, Alex Delvecchio and his coaching staff decided to send Williams to the minors for more professional experience to hone is game and develop his readiness to enter the National Hockey League. Williams then started the 1976–77 season with the Rhode Island Reds of the American Hockey League but due to injuries on the Red Wings, he was quickly called up to the big club on October 7, 1976. Expectations for Williams debut were high as a first round draft pick, and Williams did not disappoint. He scored his first goal in his first NHL game against the Washington Capitals.[citation needed] The Red Wings, who were playing in one of their most historically dismal seasons with only 16 wins over 80 games, decided to keep Williams up with the team for the remaining 43 games of the regular season, to allow him to gain more NHL experience, as the Red Wings would not make the playoffs. However, in disappointing fashion during his chance to impress Red Wings brass, Williams went on to score only six points in those remaining games in '76-'77 and was subsequently sent down to the Wing's minor league affiliates for the following season on a conditioning stint. Detroit felt that his play was not up to NHL standards, and in spite of his high draft selection and the high expectations which befall a first rounder, he was not contributing to the same level as the likes of Bernie Federko or Don Murdoch who were drafted later than Williams and were having spectacular NHL seasons. Williams continued to flounder while playing for Detroit's minor affiliate Kansas City Red Wings of the Central Hockey League, even trying to play as an defenseman to see if his game and play-making would turn around. However, Williams did not improve and was waived and then released outright by the Red Wings organization at the end of the season. At this time, he decided to retire for the first time in his career[citation needed]. Since he was no longer under contract to Detroit and a free agent, Williams was quickly enticed out of retirement by an attractive offer from the Philadelphia Firebirds of the AHL on September 15, 1979. He played in 35 games for the Firebirds where he scored only 5 goals and contributed 11 assists before being traded to the league leading Maine Mariners. He played is final three seasons for the Mariners scoring 51, 55, and 32 points respectively. Without any NHL suitors for his talents, Williams decided to retire after the 1981–82 season.[1] Unfortunately, Fred Williams garners a distinction among others, to be one of the biggest draft busts in NHL history, never rising to a level of talent or consistency in his game which would have allowed him to play a long career in the NHL. Fred Williams currently resides in Western Canada with his family.

Career Statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1971-72 Saskatoon Blades WCHL 54 7 9 16 6
1972-73 Saskatoon Blades WCHL 67 7 18 25 24
1973-74 Saskatoon Blades WCHL 67 16 20 36 46
1974-75 Saskatoon Blades WCHL 59 21 49 70 61 17 8 16 24 43
1975-76 Saskatoon Blades WCHL 72 31 87 118 129 20 7 20 27 20
1976-77 Detroit Red Wings NHL 44 2 5 7 10
1976-77 Rhode Island Reds AHL 34 7 19 26 24
1977-78 Kansas City Red Wings CHL 32 0 6 6 12
1977-78 Philadelphia Firebirds AHL 35 5 11 16 22 4 2 3 5 2
1979-80 Maine Mariners AHL 73 17 34 51 26 12 5 12 18 8
1980-81 Maine Mariners AHL 79 21 34 55 78 20 8 8 16 20
1981-82 Maine Mariners AHL 46 6 26 32 44 3 0 0 0 2
NHL Totals 44 2 5 7 10
AHL Totals 267 56 124 180 194 39 15 23 39 32

Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Fred Williams player profile". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Rick Lapointe
Detroit Red Wings first round draft pick
1976
Succeeded by
Dale McCourt