Glen Frederick Skov
Born: January 26, 1931 (Wheatley, Ont.)
Died: September 10, 2013 (Palm Harbor, Fla.)
Member: Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame (1988)
The stars of the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings teams of the early 1950s were known by a single name — Howe, Lindsay, Abel, Sawchuk. The supporting cast were less familiar. Glen Skov, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound forward, was hailed as a possible replacement for the aged Sid Abel, as were other of his contemporaries, the job eventually won by Alex Delvecchio. Skov became a checking forward, a regular whose job it was to shadow the opponents’ top line.
His linemates were Marty Pavelich and Tony Leswick, a trio of shadows whose unenviable task it was to keep the likes of Rocket Richard off the score sheet. They did so with uncommon success, Skov getting his name etched on the Stanley Cup in 1952 (his first full season), as well as ’54 and ’55.
The checkers also had their moments of glory. In overtime of Game Seven of the ’54 finals, it was a scrappy Skov who bullied into the Montreal corner to fetch a loose puck before passing it to Leswick in the face-off circle. His weak shot — a high floater — glanced off the finger of the raised glove of Canadiens defenceman Doug Harvey and into the Montreal net.
Two years early, Skov scored the insurance goal in a 3-0 victory over the Canadiens in the final game of Detroit’s unprecedented eight-game sweep to the Cup.
Detroit claimed the Prince of Wales Trophy as champions of the National Hockey League regular season in each of the six seasons the hard-nosed centre spent with the Red Wings. He was traded to the sad-sack Chicago Black Hawks in 1955, a questionable deal in a league in which three of six teams were owned by the Norris family. (Such swaps led to the joke that NHL stood for the Norris House League.) Skov spent five seasons in Chicago, the Hawks at long last making the playoffs in his final two seasons with the club. They lost to the Canadiens in a six-game semifinal, but not before Skov knocked Jean Beliveau out of action with a bone-jarring check.
In the summer of 1960, Skov was traded again, this time to Montreal. He only played three games for the Canadiens before becoming a player-coach for the junior Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, whom he led to the championship of the Eastern Professional Hockey League.
In a 650-game NHL career, Skov scored 106 goals and 136 assists. He had seven goals and seven assists in 53 playoff games.
Skov had an enviable ironman streak in the NHL before a groin injury caused him to miss three games in 1957. He had gone 422 games without missing one, then only missed a single game in his final three seasons.
Glen’s older brother, Art, was a longtime NHL referee from 1956 to 1975. (Art Skov died in 2009, aged 80.) Coincidentally, Glen’s linemate also had a brother as an official in lineman Matt Pavelich.
Glen Frederick Skov was born on Jan. 26, 1931, at Wheatley, Ont., to Mathilde and August Skov. He attended W.D. Lowe high school in downtown Windsor while playing for both the Windsor Spitfires junior team and for the Hettche Spitfires of the International Hockey League.
In 1949-50, Skov centered a line for the Spitfires of the junior Ontario Hockey Association with Earl (Dutch) Reibel and Ed Stankiewicz. Skov tallied a remarkable 51 goals and 51 assists in just 47 games, making him a top prospect for the NHL.
He played two games for the Red Wings in February, 1950, a tryout for which he did not have to give up his amateur status. He signed a professional contract with the club in April, 1950, touted at the time as the greatest prospect ever to come from the Windsor area.
“Already, he can do things that many pros cannot,” said Red Wings general manager Jack Adams.
The Red Wings signed him despite a grievous injury suffered in the junior hockey playoffs, when a skate slashed the lower part of his left calf. Without Skov in the lineup, his team lost in the finals.
Skov said the camaraderie of the Red Wings helped them bond off the ice.
“Once or twice a month, we’d all get together and go out with the wives,” Skov told Bob Duff of the Windsor Star in 1995. “We socialized together and we’d go out and hash over the games we’d just played.”
Skov employed a rare weapon on the ice. He was known for his flip shot in which he lofted the puck towards the goal in hopes the pucks odd shape would lead to an odd bounce. It worked often enough for him to gain a reputation for it. With Chicago, he once scored on an 80-foot backhander against Terry Sawchuk, his former teammate.
After leaving hockey, Skov worked in a plastics and corrugated box business in a Chicago suburb. He also teamed with the Black Hawks’ Stan Mikita in operating a hockey school for hearing impaired players.
In summer, Skov played baseball and softball, including a stint with the Galt Terriers of Ontario’s storied semiprofessional Intercounty Baseball League. Adams, his hockey boss, ordered him to quit, which he did so, but resumed playing in summer after being traded to Chicago.