BIRTHPLACE: Minneapolis, Minn.
BORN: August 14, 1907
DIED: May 1981
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: Minneapolis Millers, Oklahoma City Warriors, St. Louis Flyers
The figures were simply amazing. Goals against averages of 1.70, 1.80, 2.00, 1.90, etc., etc., etc., posted over a period of 12 years. Here was a man who could stop just about anything shot at him. Of Swedish heritage, Hub was raised in Minneapolis, where he went on to become one of the great American goaltenders.
"Hub" first donned the pads at age 12 in Park Board play. After that, it was on to high school where the future Hall of Famer was to play on two championship teams and be named to the All City Team on two occasions. Turning professional with the Minneapolis Millers of the Central League in 1930, Nelson went on to play 12 brilliant seasons in both the Central League and American Hockey Association. Over that period of time, he recorded a lifetime regular season average of 1.87, while blanking the opposition in nearly 25% of all games played.
In 1939, with the St. Louis Flyers, Nelson blanked opposing teams an amazing 18 times in 48 regular-season games. The previous year, he had done almost as well with 15 shutouts in the same number of games. Needless to say, such heroics gained Nelson All-Star honors on eight different occasions. During World War II, he served with Hall of Famers John Mariucci, Eddie Olson, and Frank Brimsek on the famed Coast Guard Cutters team.
With such a brilliant career, the question is asked: "Why didn't he play in the NHL?" The answer: Both the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks made repeated attempts to buy Nelson while he was with St. Louis, but the management there chose to keep him rather than give him his opportunity in the majors. One can understand this reluctance when reading this excerpt from a St. Louis newspaper: "Nelson, the goalie, has not an equal in the league in the last 10 years. He enjoyed his greatest season and perhaps was more responsible than any other member of the team for keeping the Flyers ahead of the procession from the start of the campaign."
Nelson retired after his Coast Guard career and devoted his time to business interests in Minneapolis.