Although Andy Brown played in just 62 games in the NHL over the course of three seasons, he will forever be a part of NHL hockey history. Brown carries the distinction of being the last goaltender in the league to play without a protective mask, now a mandatory rule.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Brown joined the Guelph Royals of the OHA at the age of 18 in 1962. Midway through the year he was traded to the Brampton 7-Ups. The following year he played for the Gander Flyers in Newfoundland.
In 1965-66, Brown played one game with the AHL's Baltimore Clippers, but also played 70 games for the Johnston Jets of the EHL After a one-year stay on Long Island with the Ducks, Brown returned to Johnston where he played in 72 games. By 1968-69, Brown was a member of the Baltimore Clippers once again, where he remained as the team's number-one backstop for the next three years.
Despite never being drafted, Brown was determined to make it to the NHL. By 1971 he was considered to be the best goalie in the AHL. The Detroit Red Wings spotted Brown and selected him in an Inter-League Draft. Again, he spent most of the year in the minors, but was called upon to start ten games for the Red Wings, who had been using Joe Daley and Al Smith. Brown went 4-5-1 with a 3.96 gaa.
By 1972-73, Brown had high hopes of landing a regular spot in the Red Wings, but the club made it clear Roy Edwards was to be the starter with Dennis DeJordy as the backup, which left Brown packing for the minors, this time to Fort Worth where he played for the Wings of the CHL. He did play seven games with Detroit, officially recording a 2-1-2 mark with a 3.56 gaa. In February, 1973, Brown was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a third-round draft choice, which turned out to be Nelson Pyatt, and cash. He started nine games for the Penguins, going 3-4-2 with a 4.73 gaa.
In 1973-74, Brown was given a legitimate shot at playing, appearing in 36 games for the Penguins, recording a 13-16-4 record and a 3.53 gaa. However, the long-term plans set out by the Penguins seemed to indicate they would be using Denis Herron and Jim Rutherford, so Brown decided to try his hand in the WHA. In 1974-75, Brown joined the Indianapolis Racers, who had acquired his WHA rights from the Minnesota Fighting Saints. He was immediately installed as the team's number-one netminder, starting 52 games and compiling a record of 15-35-0 with a 4.15 gaa. A pulled back muscle forced him to miss a good portion of the 1975-76 season. In being limited to just 24 games he went 9-11-2 with a 3.60 gaa. If that wasn't bad enough, the following year Brown had spinal surgery, which limited him to just ten games, and effectively was the cause for his retirement at the age of 33 in 1978. Brown did wear a mask in practices for most of his career as a pro, but refused to wear one in a game, saying it blocked too much of his on-ice vision. For a time he also held the NHL single-season record for penalty minutes by a goaltender with 60 in 1973-74, a record which was broken.
Luckily for Brown he had a plethora of interesting hobbies which made leaving hockey somewhat easier. Even during his hockey days, Brown was an avid race-car driver, who worked on his own cars to get them in tip-top racing condition. He at one time had aspirations of racing in the famed Indianapolis 500, and although that never transpired, he was a mainstay at Speedway Park in Hamilton, and Cayuga Speedway, often taking the checkered flag.
Brown's father Adam, who was born in Johnstone, Scotland, was himself a ten-year NHL veteran, as a left wing for Detroit, Chicago and Boston in the 1940s and 1950s.