Dr. Alfred Blue, who treated hockey players from the Seattle Totems in 1963 to the current Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds, died Sunday, April 23 at the age of 93, according to the T-Birds.
“Very sad news,” said T-Birds coach Matt O’Dette on Twitter. “Doc Blue was an incredible man and took great care of hockey players in Seattle for decades. We will miss him and his vast knowledge and wisdom around the rink. Deepest condolences to Doc Blue’s family and friends.”
Blue began his team doctor career with the Seattle Totems until the team folded in 1975. He then began working for the newly formed Seattle Breakers in 1977, later renamed the Thunderbirds, according to a 2019 article by Andy Eide posted on nhl.com and the Seattle Kraken website. The T-Birds moved in 2009 from Seattle to the ShoWare Center in Kent.
“Dr. Blue has mended many players over the years and got them back onto the ice, having barely missed a shift,” according to a T-Birds website post.
Blue was a plastic surgeon, hand surgeon and orthopedic surgeon. He also had a law degree and specialized in medical legal cases.
“His selfless dedication to Seattle hockey and the Seattle players’ physical and mental well-being was unparalleled,” according to the T-Birds. “He was a great Thunderbird who set a standard for excellence that cannot be matched.”
On Nov. 14, 2017, the T-Birds honored Blue’s long-time service by naming the team’s medical room at the accesso ShoWare Center the “Dr. Alfred Blue Medical Room.”
Ron Robison, commissioner of the Western Hockey League, presented Blue with the WHL Distinguished Service Award prior to the team’s home opener against the Vancouver Giants on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006.
Outside of hockey, Blue was an ardent supporter of the Seattle Mariners and a season ticket holder. He, and his wife, Jan, often drove to spring training in Arizona to watch the team.
Blue grew up in the south, playing baseball for Henderson State University in Arkansas before a stint in the Navy. He wasn’t much of a hockey fan then, but that changed when he arrived in Seattle to begin work as a surgeon, according to the article by Eide.
“The first game I ever saw was Seattle (Totems) playing Spokane and I think it was the most penalty minutes in a game,” Blue said in the article. “They fought, and fought, and fought. I’ve seen so many good players. Good men.”
Blue watched and attended to many top younger players over the years, including Guyle Fielder with the Totems and Patrick Marleau and Mathew Barzal with the T-Birds.
Fielder played with the Totems from 1958 to 1969. He played a handful games in the NHL, but became best known for his years with the Totems.
“He had a talent I haven’t seen in anybody since,” Blue said in the Eide article. “The closest I’ve seen, this may sound strange, is Barzal. Fielder could keep the puck and he kept it. He could hold it until he got someone open. He played for Detroit (in the NHL) and went up the same time (Hall of Fame legend) Gordie Howe did. There was only one puck, so Guyle came back here.”
The San Jose Sharks drafted Marleau with the No. 2 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft. He played with San Jose for most of his career. The New York Islanders drafted Barzal with the No. 16 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. He is still with the Islanders.