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04-03-2011, 04:22 PM
Leafs Forever
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As a hockey player, Ed Van Impe was not blessed with blazing speed, flashy puck-handling skills or an offensive touch from the point. But buried deep within his frame was a copious supply of toughness, determination, and the intelligence to play within his abilities. Those abilities remained consistently anchored to his own zone where he held court as one of the ultimate defensive defensemen of his day.

...His arrival in the City of Brotherly Love was perfect timing for the sturdy rearguard to ply his rugged trade. For the more than eight seasons that followed, he blossomed into one of the Flyers' most consistent defensive blueliners. He excelled at clearing his crease and was a fearless shot-blocker. In a game against the Seals one night, Van Impe caught a puck right in the mouth off the stick of Wayne Muloin. Six of his teeth were shaved off at the gum line, 35 stitches were required to close up his lips and 15 more to tie up his tongue. But being tough as an old hockey glove, he still managed to return for the final eight minutes of the game.-Legends of Hockey
In an era when slashing was tolerated more than it is in contemporary hockey, Ed Van Impe was one of the most feared stickmen in the NHL.

...Van Impe was a major defensive component of the Broad Street Bullies who won Stanley Cup Championships in 1973-74 and 1974-75 while under coach Fred Shero. - Who's Who in Hockey
When Ed Van Impe laced up his skates, he underwent some sort of crazy metamorphosis. This mild-mannered, soft spoken gentleman would turn into a monster on the ice, never hesitating to to deliver his physical brand of hockey.

Van Impe, the second captain of the Broad Street Bullies, helped set the Flyer's bruising standards through his unrelenting play. He was known for his heavy open ice hits and his liberal stick work, but he never considered himself to be a goon.

"I don't want a tough guy reputation. I'd rather be known as a tough, hard working defenseman. I'd like to cut down the penalties. Some of them hurt the team," he said. In fact, that quote came in the early 1970s, prior to the arrival of the likes of Dave "The Hammer" Schultz.

While he never put up many points, Van Impe was respected for his defensive play. He was a left handed shot who was comfortable playing on the right side. He was steady defensively, sacrificing his body regularly to take out his man or block a shot. He was not in anyways flashy.

....Coach Fred Shero praised Van Impe and his decision to relinquish the C.

"His defense was never better after he gave up the captain’s role. He was right up there with the most valuable players on the team." - Joe Pelletier
At a glance, Ed Van Impe seemed too awkward to be a successful big-leaguer.

His skating reminded one of a snowshoer crossing the frozen tundra. His shot had a popgun consistency and his physique hardly suggested a Mister America.

In hockey sense, however, the sum was not a total of its parts.

Van Impe was all hockey player; through and through a nonpareil comptetitor and a defenseman who staked out his portion of the ice and defied any foe to cross his imaginary border. Those who did paid the price in welts, lacerations, bruises, and ocassionally, sutures. No doubt due to his Western Canadian roots, Van Impe had a frontier quality that was a throwback to an earlier era.

The husky, heavy-bearded veteran preferred preventing a score rather than flashing the red-light himself- not that he could do the latter very easily.

...Ed's willingness to take the team's younger players aside and patiently instruct them contributed to his captaincy. His reputation around the league was another story. A horror story, if you listened t osome of his opponents. Those who drifted to Van Impe's side of the rink were apt to feel the swing of lumber, as in cross check, high stick or butt end. He was not particular but his message was clear. Beware, brother, beware!

"I didn't want other teams to push us around," he said. "It was my belief opposing forwards had to respect us. I had to keep them wondering what I might do."

They wondered, all right, because no one ever knew just what response might be delivered by Van Impe other than the fact that it would be with vigour.

...Vic Statsiuk, coach of the Flyers at the time of the first incident (a puck to the face that shattered his mouth as he moved to block the shot, but he returned soon to finish the game) remarked, "Van Impe has a killer instinct. Not many hockey players would have taken the chance he did. A guy who will make a move like that really comes to play the game."

Picture sub quotes:

Ed Van Impe was one of goaltender Bernie Parent's (30) best protector's during the Flyers' Stanley Cup victories in 1974 and 1975.

Defenseman Ed Van Impe(2), Flyers Captain from 1968-69 through 1972-73, was always willing to take one for the team.

-The Greatest Players and Moments of the Philadelphia Flyers

It was certainly not an easy start as Van Impe suffered through serious injuries to his face and mouth requiring many stitches, while enduring the boos of spectrum fans during the early years. He overcame it all, gaining the confidence to become team captain and the skill to represent the Flyers as one of their earliest players in the mid-season NHL All-star game. Van Impe turned his boos into cheers and his excellent defensive play helped to earn two Stanley Cups by the time the team was only eight years young.- Philadelphia Flyers Encyclopedia
When you ask one of Van Impe's contemporaries about his style of play, the answer depends on that person's perspective. If he was a teammate, a smile inevitably comes comes to his face as he refers to Van Impe's toughness and talent using his stick as a "defensive" weapon. If he was an opponent, he grimaces almost as if he is still feeling the pain of one of Van Impe's patented spears in front of his net. If you go to the source, well, he has a way of putting it all into perspective.

"Look, I was limited in terms of skill level," he (Ed Van Impe) explains. "I wasn't a very good skater. In fact, a lot of guys felt I was a terrible skater. I wasn't very good with the puck either. And I didn't have much of a shot. If I had an asset, it was that I always like to claim my little piece of territory on the ice, which I treated as though I owned. This, I did most of my work from the corners to the front of the net, the areas where goals were scored. I wanted the opposition to know that if they were coming there, I was going to be waiting to remind them that it wasn't going to be an easy job to jab our goaltender or get in his way."

Van Impe's methods of reminding opponents are what everybody remembers. A hack here. A whack there. They were less than subtle reminders, but very effective.

Actaully, while Van Impe downplays his skill level, it's obvious others recognized him as a quality hockey player. He was selected to play at the NHL All-Star game three times during his tenure asa Flyer (1969, 1974, 1975).

During his nine season in the orange and black, he had a lot to do with the Flyers establishing an identity as a difficult team to play against.

In short, he was a warrior, using whatever means available to do the job. Playing through pain was part of the job. He took the philosophy to a new level one night in the Spectrum. Van Impe attempted to block a shot by an Oakland defenseman and caught the puck square in his mouth. In effect, his mouth had been shattered. Seven teeth were smashed (some knocked out, others were broken off), and his tongue and lips were badly cut. He went to the locker room, got sutured up, and amazingly, went back out to finish the game with the blood stains all over his jersey as a reminder of the pain he was enduring. After the game, all he had to do was go to the hospital to have what was left of his damaged teeth surgically removed. He played some subsequent games with his mouth wired shut as part of the recovery process. Yet he barely missed any action!

"Those were my younger, macho days," he smirks now. "Every athlete goes through their macho days. Also I was team captain at the time, so I felt I had to play through it. In the locker room, they told me not to go back out, but I insisted. Was it the smartest thing to do? Absolutely not. Would I do it again? Absolutely! It was a special thing to play for the Flyers and be their captain. I wasn't going to set any trends, but I sure wasn't going to break any, either." -Walking Together: The Broadstreet Bullies, Then and Now
Ed broke into the N.H.L. with the Black Hawks and after one season, Philadelphia drafted him in the first N.H.L. expansion draft. A solid body-checker and an expert at carrying the puck out of his own end, Ed has been a remendous help to the Flyers- Back of 1970-71 Hockey Card
Hard-hitting Eddie was the Phileadalphia tram's first pick in the 1967 expansion draft...Ed seldom scores a goal, but specializes in keeping the opposition off the scoreboard with tough body checks.- 1972-73 Hockey Card
Ed Van Impe was a pro eight years before breaking into the NHL with Chicago in 1966. Named Philadelphia captain in 1968. A very hard hitter, and no stranger to the penalty box.- Back of 1972 Hockey Card
Ed is most known for his ability to clear opposing forwards away from the front of his goalie. He's big and never hesitates to use his size to his best advantage. - Back of 1976-77 Hockey Card


Awards and Achievements
2 x Stanley Cup Champion (1974, 1975)
3 x All Star Game Participant (1969, 1974, 1975)

Last edited by Leafs Forever: 04-04-2011 at 05:15 PM.
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