Constable: This octogenarian goalie blocked shots from 2 Blackhawk legends, then finally retired

  • Playing competitive league hockey until age 80, Ron Fedor got chances to take shots from Chicago Blackhawk legend Mush Marsh, hero of the 1934 Stanley Cup, and later Patrick Kane.

      Playing competitive league hockey until age 80, Ron Fedor got chances to take shots from Chicago Blackhawk legend Mush Marsh, hero of the 1934 Stanley Cup, and later Patrick Kane. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • His goalie pads in the background, Ron Fedor, 88, of Mount Prospect, played competitive hockey for six decades. At age 80, he played on the rink where the Chicago Blackhawks practiced, and got to stop a few shots from star Patrick Kane.

      His goalie pads in the background, Ron Fedor, 88, of Mount Prospect, played competitive hockey for six decades. At age 80, he played on the rink where the Chicago Blackhawks practiced, and got to stop a few shots from star Patrick Kane. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/1/2020 3:28 PM

Chicago Blackhawks legends Mush Marsh and Patrick Kane have a couple of things in common:

1. They both scored overtime goals to win the Stanley Cup -- Marsh pushing a slap shot past the Detroit Red Wings' goalie in the second overtime to give his Blackhawks a 1-0 victory and the 1934 Stanley Cup, and Kane scoring in overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and bring home the 2010 Stanley Cup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

2. They both had shots blocked by goalie Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect.

Fedor, who has lived in Mount Prospect since 1967, grew up playing pond hockey on Chicago's South Side and was a member of the first amateur men's hockey leagues in the area in the 1950s. Marsh, after his playing days were over, served as head referee for that league at the Rainbo Arena on Chicago's North Side and would fire shots at a young Fedor to help him warm up before games. In 2012, just as Fedor's team finished a game, Kane skated onto the ice for Blackhawks' practice at Johnny's IceHouse West and took a few shots at Fedor.

"Kane took it easy on me because I was 80 years old," Fedor says. "The day it happened, I was tired and weak, so I really couldn't move."

In a matchup of No. 88 and the 80-year-old goalie, Patrick Kane "took it easy" on Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect. Fedor "retired" shortly afterward; the now 88-year-old still misses the action.
In a matchup of No. 88 and the 80-year-old goalie, Patrick Kane "took it easy" on Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect. Fedor "retired" shortly afterward; the now 88-year-old still misses the action. - Courtesy of Ron Fedor

Now 88, Fedor says he might still be manning the nets if injury fears hadn't forced his retirement at age 80.

"I got wrapped around a goal post and broke some vessels in my arm and shoulder," Fedor says. He healed, but he also has had a couple of heart attacks, and his teammates didn't think it was safe for him to return to action.

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"They dropped me," he says.

When Fedor commits himself to something, he's all in. Every inch of his basement is covered with train tracks for his elaborate museum-quality miniature electric train set, which winds behind the water heater and chugs past his washer and dryer. He drove a suburban school bus for 13 years and filled photo albums with the photographs he shot of high school sporting events.

What will his son, longtime paid-on-call Mount Prospect Deputy Fire Chief Mark Fedor, do with all those memories when the time comes?

"I don't care. I'll be dead," Ron Fedor says.

Before he got real hockey goalie equipment, Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect used burlap bags filled with rags for his leg pads and a World War II gunner's glove to snag pucks.
Before he got real hockey goalie equipment, Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect used burlap bags filled with rags for his leg pads and a World War II gunner's glove to snag pucks. - Courtesy of Ron Fedor

Fedor started playing hockey in 1947 on a frozen Sherman Park, between Englewood and the Back of the Yards neighborhoods.

"I was interested in playing goalie from the beginning because I wasn't that good of a skater," Fedor says. "I filled two burlap potato bags with rags and tied them around my legs, and those were my pads."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
A member of the first men's hockey league in the area, Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect played goalie without a mask until the 1960s.
A member of the first men's hockey league in the area, Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect played goalie without a mask until the 1960s. - Courtesy of Ron Fedor

Later, he modified a three-fingered World War II gunner's glove worn by machine-gun operators in B-17 bombers as his goalie glove. Fedor even managed to play a little hockey during his 1951-55 service in the Navy, where he spent most of that time on the U.S.S. Perry, a destroyer manning the Mediterranean.

A draftsman, Fedor got out of the Navy and wanted to stay in Boston.

"I wanted to try out for the Eastern League," he says, recalling an established high-quality, semipro league. "But I couldn't find work."

Returning to Chicago, Fedor hooked up with a team that won its amateur league, with the help of several Canadians who had been playing hockey since they were old enough to walk.

Not the best skater as a boy, Ron Fedor, second from left, latched onto the goalie position early in his playing career. The Mount Prospect resident, now 88, played competitive hockey until he was 80.
Not the best skater as a boy, Ron Fedor, second from left, latched onto the goalie position early in his playing career. The Mount Prospect resident, now 88, played competitive hockey until he was 80. - Courtesy of Ron Fedor

Styling himself after Boston Bruins' Hall of Fame goalie Frank Brimsek, "I'd slide toward the shooter to cut down the angle," Fedor says, admitting that he wasn't concerned about safety.

"You're stationary and they're moving at 30 miles an hour toward you," Fedor says. "I got hit one time so hard, so hard, clean off my skates. I was like a gymnast way up in the air."

He smiles at the memory, which obligates him to explain his toothless grin.

"Some of that is from pucks in the mouth," he says. "Fortunately, we (goalies) would usually get hit in the cheek, so we could get stitches."

When goalies began wearing masks in the 1960s, it cut down on stitches, but not pain.

Longtime hockey goalie Ron Fedor holds a photograph of him in full gear, taken by former Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune photographer Charles Cherney. Fedor's hockey photo is in a coffee-table book that includes portraits of stars such as Lady Gaga.
  Longtime hockey goalie Ron Fedor holds a photograph of him in full gear, taken by former Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune photographer Charles Cherney. Fedor's hockey photo is in a coffee-table book that includes portraits of stars such as Lady Gaga. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

"The worst one was when I started wearing a mask," Fedor says of pucks to the face. "It's whiplash."

He's played in leagues across the city and suburbs. His photo -- taken by former Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune photographer Charles Cherney, who played in hockey games with Fedor -- appears in a coffee-table book. "I'm in there with Lady Gaga," Fedor says, turning to both their images to prove it.

A photographer himself, Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect looks through some of his photo albums during his six decades as a hockey goalie. He says he still likes the era when the National Hockey League had just the original six franchises and goalies didn't wear masks.
  A photographer himself, Ron Fedor of Mount Prospect looks through some of his photo albums during his six decades as a hockey goalie. He says he still likes the era when the National Hockey League had just the original six franchises and goalies didn't wear masks. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

With hockey season restarting, Fedor says he prefers the days when the National Hockey League just sported the original six franchises.

"The old days. the '40s, when hockey was hockey," Fedor says. "To tell you the truth, because I'm not playing anymore, I don't care. It's not the same."

He walks over to a large equipment bag on his living room floor, near his glove and leg pads.

"But," Fedor says, "all my stuff is packed on the floor and ready to go."

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