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01-27-2011, 09:00 AM
Student Of The Game
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Melville selects Bob Stewart, D.

Stewart is the owner of the worst career +/- of all-time. The perception that goes along with that will always make him a question mark, but it was from playing more games with the Seals/Barons franchise than any player in history (94 more than Al MacAdam and 101 more than Bert Marshall, and also from playing high minutes on that team. Stewart placed 2nd, 5th, 1st, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd on the team in ES ice time in his 6 full seasons there. In all, he averaged 23.26 minutes in his 414 games with the franchise, and 22.80 in his career following seasons as St. Louis' #2 and Pittsburgh's #4 (the one time he made the playoffs) - Now I completely realize that those numbers would be lower on better teams and can't be taken at face value - but how much lower? Better teams valued Stewart and wanted him, but the Seals wouldn't part with him.

To put into perspective how much more Stewart played for the Seals and Barons than other defensemen - He played 8563 ES minutes for the team; the next-most ES minutes played by a Seal defenseman was Bert Marshall's 5816, followed by Carol Vadnais' 4048, less than half as many. No wonder he's a -260!

The scouting report books rave about Stewart. He was big, strong, tough, a leader (was captain for a full season and co-captain with Jim Neilson for two others), and their go-to guy defensively. Clearly a very good player stuck far too long on a bad team.

The big question mark is what would his role be on a team that averaged more than 54 points a season in its 11-year existence? It's hard to believe that a frequent top pairing guy for the Seals would suddenly be a #6 benchwarmer on a good team; after all, they didn't lose every single game with him in a prominent role, they still picked up about a third of the available points.

Stewart barely got any PP time (8%), but this doesn't explain his low offensive output. At 0.19 adjusted ESPPG, he was not an offensive threat by any stretch. He is, however, the leading PK defenseman remaining, at least in terms of usage. He was on the ice for 54% of his team's PPGA in his career. Of course, his teams weren't any good at killing penalties but I have a feeling they'd have been even worse without him.

Originally Posted by Shorthanded: The Untold Story Of the Seals
"when you first come into the league, people on other teams want to find out if you will retaliate or not. After a while, they just tend to leave you alone."... teammates remember Stwart as a bit green when he joined the Seals. "He was a raw boned, tough kid. He hadn't developed his skills yet to a igh degree when he joined our team."That quickly changed as Stewart gained experience... "I had an opportunity to play and learn and get a lot of ice time.. It was great playing against great players. I got about 30 minutes per game, I killed penalties and I took a regular shift. I also enjoyed the dressing room and the people on the team."... Stewart wuickly fell into a bit of a policeman's role on the ice. "Bob was a steady guy although he was not very mobile," craig patrick said. "He was a good guy who took care of his teammates on and off the ice."... despite the fact that he saw a lot of combat on ice, many of his teammates felt that Stewart did not relish the role of enforcer on a Seals team that critics felt was lacking in tough, physical players. "Bob was tough when he had to be, but didn't like the tough guy role."

Despite his relative youth, Stewart quickly earned the respect of his teammates. "Bob was a real competitor, he gave 100% every night," Walt McKechnie recalled. "He was blocking shots all the time." "He was a tough one," said Fred Glover. "He played the same way all the time. He could shoot a puck, too. He was not a great finisher but he came to play."...While Stewart was considered a good defensive defenseman, he recalled one time when his opponent made him look foolish. "I prided myself on being tough to go around one on one. Once Whitey Widing of the Kings came in one on one and put the puck between my feet and beat me. I was on my knees and the puck was in the net and I was thinking to myself, God, I can't hide!"

"Bob was tough and a bit of a loose cannon on the ice", said Morris Mott. "He was a good teammate who liked to laugh and liked a party. There was nothing vicious about him off the ice. He really wanted to play well every game." Rick Kessell said, "nothing scared or bothered him." In 1974-75 Stewart was named an alternate captain. Despite the fact that he was just 24 years old, he was already one of the more senior members in terms of service to the club. Dave Gardner called Stewart "one of the elder statesmen of our team. We got beat so badly physically and he took the brunt of it. He played tough but we had nobody on the team to back him up. He was a big guy adn one of Jack Evans' favourites." Veteran Jim Neilson added, "Bob was a good player. He was nothing fancy but he was a hard working, steady stay at home defenseman."... "Bob was a good team man," Spike Huston said. "He was hard hitting and he would back anybody up. He was not a great skater, but he got by."

In 1975-76, Stewart had the honour of being named captain... "Being captain gave me a perspective that everything you do on the ice is not just for yourself, but for your team as well.. That is both on and off the ice. I trief to lead by example. I tried to get the players to work together and play together. Off the ice, we did charity work with burn victims. I tried to get the name of the team out there more." If Bob Murdoch is any indicator, Stewart did his job as captain well. "He taught me about off ice life. How to act away from the ice and on the road. He was a classy guy, the captain of our team and a great guy." Fred Ahern indicated how his teammates felt about Stewart. "He was the backbone of our team. He was a tough kid but a real gentleman. He commanded a lot of respect. " Wayne Merrick added, "Bob was a tough, intimidating type gut, a stay at home defenseman. He was as good as any defenseman in the league and a good leader."

Barry Cummins remembers his former teammate: "He was a big man and he was physically strong. Teams did not like to put the puck in his corner. He liked the physical play and got a lot of respect from the other teams." Rick Smith: "He was a rock on defense. He was a taem player and easily the captain of the team. He was a fun loving, great guy. He stood up for his teammates. When he was with cleveland, he was always in demand for trades. I know the Bruins wanted to get him although we never quite did."
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1974
one of the most popular seals among fans because of his menacing features and willingness to fight and bodycheck. Some rivals claim he plays dirty but Stewie innocently says no, adding that while he loves to fight he's never been cut...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1975
one of NHL's top young defenseman... several teams, including Philadelphia, were interested in obtaining him, but Seals see him as the heart of their defense for years to come...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1976
besides hoping to play for a winning team, this rugged blueliner's wish is for a healthy season... was primarily enforcer, but wants to be a more complete player.
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1977
solid, rugged defender who has been sought by many other teams...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1978
aggressive, and at 205 pounds can back it up... many NHL teams express interest in him when trade talks happen.

Last edited by seventieslord: 01-28-2011 at 02:16 AM.
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