Clifford Joseph "Fido" Purpur - Born September 26, 1914 in Grand Forks, North Dakota – Died February 21, 2001 in Grand Forks, North Dakota was a professional ice Hockey right winger and coach.
Purpur played his early Hockey in Grand Forks, also playing on his high school Hockey team, the Grand Forks Falcons.
Purpur turned pro in 1932 with the Minneapolis Millers of the Central Hockey League / CHL, and after playing two seasons for the Millers, signed with the NHL St. Louis Eagles. After playing 25 games with St. Louis, including scoring his first NHL goal, Purpur rejoined the Millers for the remainder of the season.
It was in Minneapolis that he acquired his unusual nickname "Fido" Purpur himself reveals that a Minneapolis sportswriter named Fred Matthewson reported that Cliff was 'busier than a springer in a field full of pheasants.
Purpur went back to St. Louis to start the 1935-36 season, this time the team was the American Hockey Association / AHA St. Louis Flyers, who were starting a dynasty in the AHA. Purpur and the Flyers would win the Harry F. Sinclair Trophy in 1936, 1938, 1939 and 1941 as AHA champions. Purpur scored 135 regular season goals and 12 playoff goals in the Flyers jersey, leading the club in scoring during the 1938-39 season. His speed and determined play, combined with his smaller size ( 5' 6" and 155 lbs.) and his accessibility made him a fan favourite in St. Louis, because he always took time out to talk to the fans and sign autographs for the youngsters.
His successes in the minors earned him a second opportunity in the NHL, this time with the Chicago Black Hawks. His stay only lasted eight games, as he contracted an unidentified illness that consistently elevated his body temperature. He never fully recovered The remainder of the 1941-42 season was spent with the Kansas City Americans of the AHA.
During the next two seasons that followed, Purpur skated with the Black Hawks Bentley brothers, Max and Doug, setting a career NHL best in all offensive categories with 13 goals, 16 assists and 29 points in his first full year in a Black Hawks jersey in 1942-43.
During the 1943-44 season, Purpur scored the only hat trick of his career, when he had three goals and an assist in a Black Hawks 7-6 win over the New York Rangers. His hat trick accounted for a third of his 9 total goals for the entire season.
Purpur's mystery illness had sapped some of the speed from his legs. Midway through the 1944-45 campaign, he was sent to the AHA Indianapolis Capitols before resurfacing for the playoffs with the Detroit Red Wings. He played in seven games and had an assist - his last NHL action.
Over the next two seasons, he played with the St. Louis Flyers in 1945-46, scoring 18 goals, and the St. Paul Saints of the of the United States Hockey League in 1946-47 where he retired after the season.
Purpur was the first North Dakota native to become a National Hockey League player. He achieved this at a time when there were only six NHL teams and an American player playing on any of these teams was an oddity.
Following his playing days, Purpur played senior Hockey in Grand Forks with his brothers Ray and Ken, coached at both the high school level in Grand Forks and served as the coach at the University of North Dakota from 1949 to 1956.
Clifford "Fido" Purpur was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1974.
Clifford "Fido" Purpur was a Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award recipient in 1981.
Fidi Purpur was a Hobey Baker Legends of College Hockey Award recipient in 1988.