New Brunswick

Hockey legend Danny Grant dead at 73

Former National Hockey League star and Stanley Cup champion Danny Grant has died.

Fredericton native helped Montreal Canadiens win Stanley Cup, was National Hockey League's rookie of the year

Danny Grant played 736 games in the National Hockey League with Montreal, Minnesota, Detroit and Los Angeles. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Former National Hockey League star and Stanley Cup champion Danny Grant has died.

Grant, a Fredericton native, died in hospital Monday night after a battle with cancer. He was 73.

He is survived by his wife Linda, their two children and one grandchild.

Known locally as the Barkers Point Ace, the left winger made his NHL debut playing one game with the Montreal Canadiens in 1965-66.

While he only appeared in 22 regular season games, he did help the Habs win the Stanley Cup in 1968, playing in 10 playoff games.

He was then traded to the Minnesota North Stars and won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year in the 1968-69 season.

It was seven years later when Grant really made his mark, scoring 50 goals in a single season with the Detroit Red Wings.

NHL Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne said he'll remember Danny Grant as a 'very nice guy' and 'a real sniper.' (Marcel Dionne Inc.)

NHL Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne was his linemate during that outstanding 1974-75 season.

"Very nice guy," Dionne told CBC News on Tuesday. "I played against him until I played with him. I appreciate the value of his friendship. And he was a real sniper. I will tell you this right now. He was a sniper."

Injuries subsequently limited Grant's playing time and cut his career short after 13 seasons. 

"I think Danny was the best player ever to come out of the national hockey [league] from New Brunswick," said Dave Morell, a former sports broadcaster and long-time friend.

"A great player, a good person, a great community guy."

Former sports broadcaster Dave Morell said his friend Danny Grant will be remembered for being New Brunswick's greatest hockey player, as well as for his community work. (CBC)

Morell, who visited Grant during his illness, said he always enjoyed being around him. "Danny had a smile that would take over a room. When he smiled it was his eyes, it was his ears — everything smiled."

Grant also made friends easily and had a way of putting people around him at ease — "that he wasn't anything special, that he was just another guy," said Morell. "And if you ever tried to put a spotlight on him, he always deferred."

"His legacy in sport will live on through the impact he has made on so many," the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame posted on Twitter Tuesday.

Grant was inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

"Community [leader], champion of innumerable charitable causes, role model for youngsters everywhere, outstanding performer for Minnesota [North Stars], Detroit and Los Angeles [Kings], he will always be remembered as one who could put the puck in the net better than most," the website states.

Grant, who headed home to his farm just outside of Fredericton after he left the league, went on to play with the Fredericton Express AHL team.

His obituary said he was "instrumental" in bringing the Express to the New Brunswick capital. In addition to playing for the team, he served as president and assistant coach. 

He later switched to the other side of the boards, coaching the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds in 1995 and 1996, and the Halifax Mooseheads Quebec league junior team in 1998.

Danny Grant, whose first 'rink' was Bird's Pond in Barkers Point, N.B., started his NHL career playing for the Montreal Canadiens. (CBC)

In 2008, a new arena being built on Fredericton's south side was slated to be named the Danny Grant Centre in his honour, but Grant asked council to include the name of his friend and former teammate, Fred (Buster) Harvey, who died after a battle with cancer.

Harvey,  also a Fredericton native, was best known for playing with the Minnesota North Stars during the early 1970s. He also played with the Atlanta Flames and the Detroit Red Wings before returning to New Brunswick to serve as head coach of the Fredericton Red Wings in 1979-80.

Council agreed to name the arena the Grant-Harvey Centre.

Danny Grant moved back to his farm just outside Fredericton when he left the National Hockey League. (CBC)

Jake Allen, goaltender for the St. Louis Blues and Fredericton native, offered his condolences to the Grant family on Twitter Tuesday.

"A local hero and resident in the NB community," he tweeted. 'The last time I saw Danny was fishing on the Miramichi, which he loved. Thoughts and Prayers."

There will be no service at Grant's request. A visitation will be held at Kingswood Lodge on Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m.

With files from Shane Fowler

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