Born: January 19, 1950
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Height: 5'10" Weight: 149 lbs.
Seasons with Buffalo: 1973-74 to 1975-76
Uniform Numbers: 24, 28, 29
|* Save Percentage does not include 1973-74 season.|
|Gary Bromley was born and raised in Alberta, but played his junior hockey with the Regina Pats in Regina, Saskatchewan. Bromley led the Pats to the 1968-69 Memorial Cup Tournament. Undrafted by the NHL as a junior, Bromley turned pro in 1971, joining the Charlotte Checkers of the Eastern Hockey League as a backup goaltender for the 1971-72 season.
Bromley signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Sabres on September 29, 1971, and remained in Charlotte for the bulk of the season. He was called up for a three game stint to the Sabres' minor league affiliate, the Cincinnati Swords of the American Hockey League, during the 1971-72 season. Bromley remained in Cincinnati for 1972-73, where he split the netminding duties with the Sabres' other top goaltending prospect, Norman "Rocky" Farr. Bromley finished the season with an impressive 2.66 goals against average in 31 games played. Despite his stellar play, the bulk of the goaltending responsibility fell to Farr as the Swords entered the post-season, on their way to the 1973 Calder Cup championship.
|While 1973-74 was shaping up to be a good season for the Swords, with Farr and Bromley leading the way, the parent club in Buffalo was going through a tough season, marred by injury, illness and misfortune. The goaltending corps was among the hardest hit, with starter Roger Crozier missing a large part of the season with pancreatitis. When Bromley's rival Farr was called up to Buffalo to back up goaltender Dave Dryden after Crozier had taken ill, Bromley was left to shoulder the brunt of the goaltending load in Cincinnati. Bromley again performed admirably, posting a 2.80 GAA, and winning 19 of his 34 starts. Later that season, after Farr was sidelined with an ankle injury, Bromley received a call from the Sabres himself, and went on to make his NHL debut that year. Bromley played in 12 games for the Sabres in 1973-74, one more than Farr, though Farr posted a slightly better goals against average (3.13 to Bromley's 3.31) in his 11 games played.
In the off-season of 1974, the Sabres goaltending corps took another hit when Dave Dryden left the organization to join the Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association. The WHA burst onto the scene in the early 1970's, offering big money contracts to NHLers willing to jump to the upstart league. Dryden was just one of several Sabres to defect from the NHL to the WHA in the early 1970's.
|Bromley, keeping his eye on the puck.
Photo Credit: Ron Moscati
|With Dryden's departure, and Crozier's questionable health, the Sabres entered the 1974-75 season with a large hole in their goaltending corps. In the end, it was Bromley, not Farr who was chosen to fill that hole. Pegged as the backup goaltender, Bromley was thrust into the starting job when Crozier was again hospitalized during training camp. The Sabres rebounded from the disappionting 1973-74 season, and were one of the League's best teams. With everything else going so well, the fans focused their attention on the rookie netminder, who was often heckled. Despite the added attention from the rowdy fans, Bromley turned in a solid performance in the Buffalo net. In 50 games, Bromley had a 26-11-11 record, with 4 shutouts and a 3.10 GAA.|
|With the team well on it's way to their best record in franchise history, one question still remained. Would the team have what it took to make a run for the Cup with a rookie between the pipes? Crozier's health was still a problem. He couldn't be counted on to go the distance. With that in mind, Sabres GM Punch Imlach made a trade in early March that brought veteran goaltender Gerry Desjardins to Buffalo. In Desjardins, Imlach saw the experience and poise he was looking for. The fans were happy with the decision, as was coach Floyd Smith. The only one unhappy about it was Bromley, who was suddenly the odd man out.
Desjardins backed up Bromley down the stretch, gearing up for the playoffs. Bromley held on to the starting job until the end of the regular season, but when playoff time came around, Desjardins was tapped as the starter, with Crozier, back in the lineup, as his backup. Bromley was benched as the Sabres made their way to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Edged out of the lineup by Desjardins, Bromley would play just one more game as Sabre during the 1975-76 season. Gradually, Bromley faded away out of Buffalo. He surfaced later that season as a backup goaltender with the Providence Reds of the AHL.
|Following the 1975-76 season, Bromley jumped to the WHA. Bromley spent two seasons with the Calgary Cowboys and Winnepeg Jets. In 1978, he was back in the NHL, having signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks. Bromley played three seasons with Vancouver, and one with the New-Haven Nighthawks of the AHL. He retired from professional hockey following the 1981-82 season with New-Haven.|