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Born in Ireland on April 15, 1920, Jim McFadden has the distinction of being one of only six people from Ireland to reach the NHL. Unlike many people who would reach the NHL, McFadden wouldn’t until late into his 20s.
While he was born in Belfast, he would move to Miami, Manitoba at the age of eight with his family. He would begin playing hockey at the age of 11.
In relating his story, McFadden said, “I was crazy about hockey. I’d put my skates on at home, skate down the hill to Opawaka School and sit at the back of the room with my skates on.”
He would play three seasons with the Carman Beavers in the South Eastern Hockey League.
McFadden would begin his professional career with the Portland Buckaroos of the Pacific Coast Hockey League where he spent two years before joining the Montreal Senior Canadiens in 1941-42. The following year, he would join the Canadian Army and was posted in Winnipeg where he played hockey with Winnipeg Army. During one game, he scored three goals in 50 seconds.
After three years, he would leave the army and join the Ottawa Senators thanks to an offer of $2,000 from the club before he was traded to the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League. He would light up the AHL with the Bisons before signing with the Detroit Red Wings during their playoff run in 1946-47. Thanks to his strong play, he would earn a spot with the team for the next season. In that season, he would score 24 goals and be awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy. He would remain the oldest person to win the trophy until Sergei Makarov, who won it while playing for the Calgary Flames in 1989 at the age of 31. Due to rule changes, no player beyond Makarov and McFadden will win the trophy after the age of 26. During his rookie year, he would also score two goals in only eight seconds.
He would remain with Detroit for the next three seasons, winning the Stanley Cup with the team in 1949-50 and playing in the 1950 NHL All Star Game.
During the 1950-51 season, he finished eighth in team scoring.
On Aug. 20, 1951, McFadden was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks along with several teammates in exchange for $75,000. In 1951-52 with Chicago, he finished fifth in team scoring. In 1952-53, his last full season with the club, he finished first in team scoring with 44 points in 70 games.
He would play three seasons for the club before being sent down to the minors in the 1953-54 season. During that season, he would help lead the team to the Lester Patrick Cup, picking up 55 points in 37 games in the regular season and 22 points in 18 games in the playoffs.
He would play three seasons in the minors with the Calgary Stampeders before he retired.
Over the course of his NHL career, McFadden played in 412 games, earning 100 goals, 126 assists and 226 points. His best season in the NHL would be when he had 48 points in 60 games in 1947-48.
Following his hockey career, he returned to Miami and coached the Miami Rockets to the top in the Southern Manitoba Hockey League, while also playing old timers hockey.
His best season in his hockey career was in 1954-55 with the Stampeders when he had 65 points in 56 games. When he was not coaching hockey, he spent his time farming and driving school bus.
In 2004, he was inducted into he Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and is an honoured member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985. He would pass away in Winnipeg on Aug. 22, 2002 at the age of 82.
In 2015, Sports Illustrated selected the 10 greatest Irish hockey players at all time, and one of only two players on the list to have actually been born in Ireland.
Information for this episode came from Wikipedia and Miami and RM of Thompson Chronicles,