Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Colville, Neil

Colville, Neil

Born August 4, 1914, in Edmonton, Alberta, Neil "Frosty" Colville played three seasons of junior hockey in and around Edmonton before moving into the New York Rangers' organization. Early in 1934, he joined the New York Crescents, a Rangers' farm team in the Eastern Amateur League, helping them win the league title. He advanced to the Philadelphia Ramblers for the 1935-36 season, and the club not only won the league championship, but Colville was the leading scorer until about six weeks from the end of the scheduled when he was sidelined by an injury.

Colville moved up to the Rangers in 1936 and later centered the "Bread Line" consisting of brother Mac and Alex Shibicky. Neil was both a prominent NHL playmaker and scorer until joining the war in 1942.

From 1942 to 1945, Neil served with the Canadian Armed Forces, stationed in Ottawa where he captained the 1942-43 Allan Cup-winning Ottawa Commandos.

Upon returing to the NHL near the end of the 1944-45 season, he and his brother, both a step slower, took their place on the blueline, the first ever brother combination to do so. Neil's conversion to defence was seamless, and he became the first player to be named to All-Star teams both as a forward and defenceman. He retired in 1949 and became coach of the Rangers a year later after serving New Haven in that capacity in the interim.

At 36, he was the league's youngest bench boss, but he held the position for just a year and a half. Ulcers had forced him to adopt a strictly milk diet and he had half his stomach removed.

At 61, he married for the first time and settled in Vancouver. He was named to the Selection Committee of the Hockey Hall of Fame--himself an inductee in 1967-- but in 1984 he lost a leg to cancer and stepped down. He passed away three years later.

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