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Fred Marsh

Location: Kamloops, BC

Award: Innovation Award

Category: Survival & Safety

Year: 2000


Crafted the Marsh Flexible Goal Peg System, a safer method for holding goal nets in place. This successful system was adopted by the NHL and has been used exclusively since 1991. Read the News Release and Media Backgrounder for additional information.

News Release

Canadian Hockey Invention Scores Big with NHL

Marsh flexible goal post pegs reduce injury, improve game. October 10, 2000

Calgary, AB -- Marsh Flexible Goal Pegs have played a starring role in the National Hockey League, eliminating serious injuries to players who collided with nets anchored by steel posts. Now the inventor of the system, Fred Marsh of Kamloops, B.C., has received a prestigious Manning Innovation Award.

Marsh, a former arena ice-maker and life-long hockey fan, developed his patented goal post pegs after watching talented players sustain career-threatening injuries. It took him several years of determined letter writing and telephone calling to convince NHL officials to adopt his innovation.

"I'm 65, but I'm the oldest rookie that got into the NHL," Marsh jokes. "I made it when I was 56."

Marsh Flexible Goal Pegs are now used by all NHL teams, the Western Hockey League, many collegiate and junior leagues, and are endorsed by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Marsh has won one of this year's $5,000 Manning Innovation Awards. The annual awards program has recognized leading Canadian innovators since 1982, presenting them with $155,000 in prize money each year.

Another benefit of the Marsh pegs has been less stoppage in play due to the net being knocked awry. The unique rubber-and-plastic pegs will bend and return to their original position, allowing the net to stay in place when jostled. But if the net is hit hard, it will pop off the pegs.

"This simple but effective device has saved many an injury that was always associated with driving hard to the net," says Mike Gartner, former forward with the Washington Capitals.

The pegs, marketed by Marsh Pegs And Nets Ltd., a family business run by Marsh and his wife, Sheila, have been used in the 1998 Winter Olympics and been sold in Scotland, England, Japan and Finland.

The Manning Innovation Awards Foundation will announce all of this year's recipients, including the $100,000 Manning Principal Award, throughout this month prior to the annual awards dinner on November 6 in Montreal.

* For more information about the Marsh Flexible Goal Pegs, please contact Fred Marsh at (250)-851-2750.

* For more information about the Manning Innovation Awards Foundation, please contact Donald Park, Executive Director, at (403)-266-8288 or visit the Foundation's website at www.manningawards.ca

Media Backgrounder

$5,000 Manning Innovation Award: Marsh Flexible Goal Pegs.

Fred Marsh remembers watching former Hartford Whalers defenceman Mark Howe crash into the net and be seriously injured on one of the pointed steel centre posts. Marsh, a life-long hockey fan, figured there must be a safer way to hold the net in place.

"There were quite a few career-ending injuries with the steel posts," Marsh recalls. "There was no give in the net. Once you hit it, it was solid."

Marsh, born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, grew up playing hockey on icy streets and outdoor rinks. As a teenager hanging out at the old Moose Jaw Arena, he learned how to make good ice by hand. He went on to operate two arenas in Kitimat, B.C. "Hockey and ice-making have been my life," he says. "I started ice-making when I was in high school, and I spent 25 years running the facilities in Kitimat."

Marsh's other passion is hockey. He has been a fan since the NHL had six teams; the Detroit Red Wings of Gordie Howe's day were his favourite.

Four years after Howe's son Mark was injured, the NHL moved to a system that used magnets to hold the net in place. It was a lot safer than steel posts. But the frequent stoppages in play were frustrating for players and fans. Marsh, who by 1984 had located the right material for his flexible goal post pegs, kept track of how many times the net was knocked off its magnets. It averaged more than seven times per game -- often during crucial moments of play.

"(Wayne) Gretzky was playing in Vancouver one night and they had the net come off, just as the puck went in," Marsh says. "And they ended up with a tie instead of win. I wrote Wayne at the time and said, 'You know, if they would've been using the Marsh Peg, they would have won the game.'"

Marsh patented his flexible pegs system in 1986. The following year, the Moose Jaw Civic Centre, home of the Moose Jaw Warriors, became the first arena in the Western Hockey League to adopt the Marsh Flexible Goal Pegs. Marsh kept trying to convince the NHL of his invention's merits, even sending officials a sample peg in 1989. He began travelling to NHL games, where he managed to attract the attention of broadcasters and commentators. Ed Chynowth, then president of the Western Hockey League, wrote to the NHL in support of the Marsh system.

Finally, in 1991, then NHL vice-president Brian O'Neill and referee-in-chief Brian Lewis attended a game at the Bonaventure Arena in Montreal to check out the pegs. In July that year, the NHL adopted the Marsh Flexible Goal Pegs for every arena in the league.

"I'm 65, but I'm the oldest rookie that got into the NHL," Marsh jokes. "I made it when I was 56."

Marsh pegs are now the standard in the National Hockey League, the Western Hockey League, the American Hockey League, the Western Collegiate Hockey League, the Eastern Hockey League, the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and the Quebec Junior Hockey League. The Marsh system was also used in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and the World Championship in Helskinki, Finland. The International Ice Hockey Federation has recommended its member associations use the Marsh Flexible Goal Pegs.

"This simple but effective device has saved many an injury that was always associated with driving hard to the net," says former Washington Capitals forward Mike Gartner. "I thank Fred for his insight and only wish that I had played the first 10 years of my career with the Marsh pegs in place."

Marsh pegs are a mixture of rubber and plastics. The mixture is poured into a mold, removed and then cured in an oven. Each peg undergoes a quality test to ensure it bends at 90 degrees under a specific pressure. The pegs are dropped into inserts in the arena floor, with three to four inches of peg sticking above the ice. The hollow posts of the net's frame fit over the pegs leaving a bit of "play" so the net moves when jostled without being released.

Marsh Pegs & Nets Ltd., the family business run by Marsh and his wife, Sheila, has sold the system in Canada, the United States, Scotland, England, Japan and Finland.

When it comes to Marsh's contribution to the game, one NHL legend summed it up best. Marsh fondly remembers meeting Gordie Howe and telling him about the flexible peg system. "He just said if I would have invented it earlier, he'd probably still be playing.