No one could ever accuse Gary Bromley of spinning his wheels or staying in one place too long. From the time this netminder turned pro in the Buffalo Sabres organization in 1972, until the year he retired (1981), he saw action in four different pro leagues and seven North American cities.
After playing three years in the minors, Gary finally got his chance to play with the emerging powerful Sabres in 1974-75. He played really well that year too, with a 26-11-11 record in 50 games. He also posted 4 shutouts and a 3.10 GAA
Despite the success, Bromley got little respect. Many experts and the Sabres themselves felt that Bromley could not be the goalie that could take them to the next level. The Sabres made moves to upgrade the goaltending situation, which left Bromley out of the picture for the 1975-76 season. Playing behind Rogier Crozier, Gerry Desjardins and Al Smith, Bromley only got into one game that season, and gave up seven goals.
Bromley resurfaced in the World Hockey Association, first in Calgary and then in Winnipeg, where he enjoyed a 25-12-1 season.
"I'll never forget that Jets team" recalls Bromley. "We had guys like Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, and we won the Avco Cup (as WHA champions)."
Bromley returned to the NHL with Vancouver in 1978-79, and appeared in 38 contests behind a weak Canucks team. The Canucks, who also had Glen Hanlon, went out and acquired their future "King," Richard Brodeur. Needless to say Gary didn't see much playing time behind those two guys, and was traded to Los Angeles, where he signed a two-way minor league contract.
"I had applied to the Vancouver Fire Department the summer before my last season," he said. "Because when I signed my two-way contract with LA, I pretty well knew which way it would be no matter how well I played. I was a bit disappointed because I did have a good training camp."
"So they sent me down to New Haven for the year. But I still had the idea that I was going to get on with the fire department. When I came back to Vancouver at the end of the season, I applied to the department again and got on. So I took the secure job."
Still living in British Columbia's lower mainland, Bromley has no regrets. "Its been a terrific experience. Like hockey, firefighting is a team game with camaraderie and shift work .... so the transition was easy."
Gary was nicknamed "Bones" right from the start of his career as he weighed only 145 lbs when he first attended professional camps. He eventually tipped the scales at 160 lbs but is forever known as Bones.