How good was Fielder? He is one of five players in the history of professional hockey to have more than 2,000 points (one point for a goal, one for an assist). The others are NHL greats Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr and Gordie Howe.

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With Seattle on the threshold of getting an NHL team, it is worth remembering that the man generally considered the greatest minor-league hockey player of all time skated in Seattle for nearly two decades.

Guyle Fielder, now 87 and living in a retirement community in Mesa, Ariz., was a puck-handling virtuoso who played for Seattle teams named Bombers, Americans and Totems from 1953 to 1969.

How good was Fielder? He is one of five players in the history of professional hockey to have more than 2,000 points (one point for a goal, one for an assist). The others are NHL greats Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr and Gordie Howe.

The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto thinks so highly of Fielder that years ago it had a special exhibit honoring him.

Fielder was Western Hockey League scoring champion nine times back when the league was the equivalent of a baseball AAA league, not the major junior league for mostly teenage players that has the same name today. He won six MVP awards, was an all-star eight times and led the Totems to three championships.

The Totems back-to-back title years of 1967 and 1968 are a major highlight of Seattle hockey.

Fielder’s name was synonymous with Seattle sports and hockey in the 1950s and 1960s. His nickname was “Golden Guyle,” bestowed on him by Seattle Times writer Hy Zimmerman, who also is credited with suggesting the team name Totems.

Ex-Totem Tommy McVie, who played and coached in the NHL, accompanied Fielder on a recent book-promotion trip here and recalled Zimmerman writing that “a Zamboni would get 20 goals playing with Fielder.”

Fielder’s Seattle teams skated in the era before the Mariners and Seahawks. The SuperSonics didn’t start playing until 1967, late in Fielder’s career.

Until moving to the Coliseum in 1964, the Totems played in the now-demolished building last known as Mercer Arena with capacity for 4,600 fans. The “old WHL” as it is now known operated from 1952-74 and 18 cities, from as big as Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco to as small as Brandon, Manitoba.

Fielder was a bashful celebrity in Seattle. West Seattle resident Bud Jobe sat across from Fielder at a recent luncheon and told him, “I’m in awe. I got hockey tips from you as a kid at the Highland Ice Arena.”

Fielder said he never made more than $15,000 playing in Seattle. He was coaxed out of retirement by Salt Lake City where he played two years and made $20,000 his first season. His final season was in 1972-73 in Portland and he retired at age 42.

His jobs after hockey included working pari-mutuel windows at horse and dog tracks.

Fielder was at ShoWare Center in Kent recently to promote the new self-published book about him by Canadian author James Vantour titled, “I Just Wanted to Play Hockey, Guyle Fielder: The Unknown Superstar.”

The book quotes Fielder as saying, “When I was 14 or 15 the principal said I was never going to get out of grade eight, that I should forget about the books and go play hockey for a living. That suited me just fine. That’s all that was on my mind anyway. I just wanted to play hockey.”

Vantour writes:

“Nobody ever loved being on the ice more than Guyle. As a kid his burning desire was not to make the NHL or even the minor pro ranks. It was simply to play hockey, anywhere. His love of the game never diminished through the years.”

Fielder was known for otherworldly puck-handling ability and passing but he also could put the puck in the net. After reading a Vancouver writer’s assessment that goal-scoring was his weakness, Fielder scored all four goals in a 4-3 Seattle win over the rival Canucks.

Fielder was born in Idaho and raised in Saskatchewan. His other youthful passion was pool. Later, he became a good golfer. His handicap got as low as one and he has five career holes-in-one.

He has been married twice and lives with a girlfriend of five years in Leisure World.

Fielder doesn’t attend hockey games but said he enjoyed watching the U.S.-Canada women’s gold-medal Olympic hockey game on TV. However, he was disappointed that it was decided in a shootout instead of a continuation of play.

Fielder played professional hockey for 22 years and appeared in only 15 NHL games – 10 with Detroit, three with Chicago and two with Boston. Why he didn’t stick in the NHL has baffled some hockey experts for decades. Here are ae some of the reasons given:

• His playing style was to control the puck and feed wingers at a time when “dump-and-chase” tactics were becoming increasingly popular.

• For much of his career, there were only six NHL teams and thus fewer major-league jobs. The NHL expanded from six to 12 teams in 1967. Although teams carried three centers, the third center was more of a defensive player and that wasn’t Fielder’s skill set.

•He was 5 feet 9 and 160 pounds in a sport where players were becoming bigger and more physical.

•He had an independent nature off the ice that included his penchant for pool halls. However, Vantour maintains that a lot of Fielder’s off-ice reputation was an undeserved “bad rap.”

• He was impatient and “just wanted to play hockey.” When the Detroit Red Wings benched him in 1957, he told them to send him back to Seattle so he could play.

“I was really immature at the time and didn’t realize the opportunity I had,” Fielder said while in Kent. “I didn’t want to sit on the bench. I just loved to play like the book title says.”

So, how does Fielder feel about his label as the best minor-league player in hockey history?

“It’s nice to be remembered that way,” he said.

• He had some bad luck. Detroit called the Seattle line of Fielder, Ray Kinasewich and Val Fonteyne to camp in 1957 but never had them play together despite their proven success in the WHL.

“We did not see each other on the ice one day,” Fielder said in Kent. “We never played as a unit. If we had had that opportunity, it might have made somewhat of a different. You can ask Ray and Val and they will tell you the same thing.”

“I Just Wanted to Play Hockey, Guyle Fielder: The Unknown Superstar” is available for $30 (U.S. funds) including shipping and handling from author James Vantour, 1028 Fieldfair Way, Ottawa, Ont., K4A0E2.