Paul Brydges is an example of a hockey player that never saw a mountain he couldn’t climb. Drafted in the 20 round of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) draft in 1982 by the Guelph Platers, he would not only go on to captain the team but lead them to the Memorial Cup. Perhaps his determination came from the fact he was the youngest of five boys (Bob, Glen, Dan, Steve) in his Foster Avenue household with loving and supportive parents Ed and Arlene acting as referees. Competition was fierce – whether it was pick-up games on the neighbourhood Sunny Acres outdoor rink or fighting for extra helpings at the dinner table – Paul never took a backseat to anyone.
Since joining the OHL in 1982 the Platers had never made the playoffs, but in 1985-86 they went on an historic run winning the OHL crown (in 6 games over Belleville) and eventually defeating the Hull Olympiques 6-2 in the Memorial Cup final to give Guelph its first national championship since the Biltmore Madhatters of 1952.
Brydges proudly wore the captain’s “C” on his jersey and his resolve and in-your-face style of play was perfect for a team that played excellent two-way hockey. During the 1986 playoffs, Brydges trailed only Gary Roberts in scoring with 10 goals and 25 points in 19 games. Brydges’ four-year junior career led to a free agent contract with the Buffalo Sabres where he beat the odds again and made it to the NHL as an undrafted player. Playing for the legendary Scotty Bowman in Buffalo he scored his first NHL goal on a breakaway at Maple Leaf Gardens – a moment he will never forget.
Brydges would go on to play 15 games in the National Hockey League (NHL) and 211 games in the American Hockey League helping the Rochester Americans win the Calder Cup in 1987.
After his playing career he slipped seamlessly behind the bench as an assistant coach with the Guelph Storm returning to the Memorial Cup twice (1996 in Peterborough and 2004 in Kelowna). Brydges was also an assistant with the Guelph Gryphon men’s hockey team that won the national championship in 1997.
Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Athlete category – on May 18, 2022