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11-08-2012, 04:32 PM
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Harold Snepsts !!!

Awards and Achievements:
2 x NHL All-Star (1977, 1982)

Vancouver Canucks Ring of Honor (2011)
Fred J. Hume Award (unsung hero) (1979)
4 x Babe Pratt Award (best defenseman) (1978, 1979, 1980, 1982)

Offensive Accomplishments:
233 Points in 1033 NHL Regular Season Games
15 Points in 93 NHL Play-off Games

Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
Harold Snepsts played 17 seasons in the NHL and the list of injuries the gritty defenceman suffered is as long as his stats page. He has had cuts, breaks, separations, sprains, and numerous operations--from his eye to his knees--and even some plastic surgery to his ear. But when all was said and done, Snepsts was known as a standup defenceman who played every game with intensity and feeling.

The Vancouver Canucks selected Snepsts from the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings in the 1974 Amateur Draft. He made his NHL debut in the 1974-75 season and in only his third season in the league played in the 1977 All-Star Game. He played in the All-Star Game once again in 1982 when the Canucks made a run for the Cup. They faced the Islanders in the finals but failed to win a game, giving New York their third straight Cup.

Snepsts was traded to the North Stars in 1994 but played only one season there before signing with the Red Wings as a free agent. He helped Detroit get to the conference finals in both 1986-87 and 1987-88, but both times the Detroiters were stopped by the Oilers as the Edmontons headed toward consecutive championships.
Originally Posted by BC Hockey Hall of Fame
While Canuck players like Pavel Bure, Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden may have been flashier, perhaps the most popular Canuck of all time is rugged defenseman Harold Snepsts.

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, on October 24, 1954, Harold was a mainstay on the Vancouver Canucks blueline for more than a decade. While his 17-year NHL career included stops with the Minnesota North Stars, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, Snepsts will be considered first and foremost a Vancouver Canuck.

He joined the Canucks during the 1974 season, and would remain with the team for the next 10 years. Included in that stint was the Canucks memorable march to the Stanley Cup finals in 1982. Snepsts value to the Canucks didn't go un-noticed by the fans or media.

In voting conducted by the Vancouver media, Snepsts was awarded the Premier's Trophy as the team's top defenseman four times in a five-year stretch, joining Doug Lidster and Jyrki Lumme, as the only four-time winners in team history.

Snepsts was also presented with the Fred J. Hume Award as the Canucks unsung hero in 1979. Snepsts was also one of the last skaters in the league to play without a helmet.
Originally Posted by BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
You remember the chant. “Har-old! Har-old!” And who can forget the bushy moustache and icy glare? Never known for his scoring prowess, long-time Vancouver Canucks defenceman Harold Snepsts made an indelible mark on this province with his on-ice leadership, toughness, heart, and grit. To this day he remains one of the most popular players in franchise history.

Drafted 59th overall by the Canucks in the 1974 Amateur Draft, Snepsts’ rugged play with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings attracted the attention of big league scouts. As a clean-shaven, baby-faced 19-year-old, Snepsts made his NHL debut with the Canucks in 1974-75 as Phil Maloney’s troops marched to the franchise’s first-ever Smythe Division title. Establishing himself as a mainstay on the Canucks blueline the following season, the towering Snepsts would remain with the club for a decade, developing into a fan favourite, whose every touch of the puck was greeted by The Chant. He admits that with the tremendous support came tremendous pressure to perform at his best night in, night out, noting, “How could you not want to do well for these fans?”

Playing the best hockey of his career during the 1981-82 season, Snepsts was a key cog in the Canucks unlikely cinderella run to the Stanley Cup final against the powerful New York Islanders. Although that magical spring remains the highlight of Snepsts’ career, one unlucky picked-off pass that led to Mike Bossy’s winner in Game One continues to haunt him.

In one of the most unpopular moves in team history, Snepsts was traded in 1984 to Minnesota. After three years in Detroit, Snepsts returned to Vancouver for two more seasons, restarting British Columbia’s idolization of ‘Big Harry.’ Although 34 years old, Snepsts could still play with the youth of the NHL. The Vancouver Sun’s Archie McDonald wrote, “There is a hockey expression for guys who embrace the ice like Harold Snepsts. They say he can play defence in a rocking chair.”

In 1990, he was traded to St. Louis where he eventually retired in 1991, finishing his 17-year career with 1033 games played, 233 points, and 2009 penalty minutes. For the rest of the decade, he remained involved in the game through coaching, as head coach of the Peoria Rivermen (1991-92) and San Diego Gulls (1993-94), the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks (1998-00) where he was a longtime minority shareholder since his early playing days, and as an assistant with the St. Louis Blues for one NHL season (1992-93). After spending several years with the NHL’s Central Scouting, Snepsts recently returned to the Canucks organization as a western scout.

Amid frequent uniform changes, Snepsts’ hard-working, lunch-bucket play was always consistent, making life miserable for many NHL forwards who dared to venture into the Canucks’ zone. There was never any question about big number 27’s toughness either, playing through innumerable injuries. As one of the last NHL players to play without a helmet, his doctor once advised him to wear a lid to protect against potential damage to the noggin. Displaying his characteristic good nature and humour he replied, “Don’t worry about that, Doc. If it happens, I could always return as a forward.”

Snepsts’ character and fine defensive play did not go unrewarded. He represented the Canucks at the NHL All-Star Game twice in 1977 and 1982, was named Vancouver’s top defenceman on four occasions, and was awarded the Fred Hume Award once as the team’s unsung hero.

Some players captivate with their skill and speed, while others impress with their size and strength. And then there are those rare few whose character transcends the game they play. Big Harold’s heart touched every corner of this province. The Har-old chants may be rare these days, but they still echo clearly in the memories of many.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
While he played in short stops with the Minnesota North Stars, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, the mustachioed and helmetless Harold Snepsts will forever be remembered as the robust though anything but graceful blue liner with the Vancouver Canucks for a combined 12 NHL seasons.

Harold was a hugely popular player on the west coast, perhaps the most popular ever. He was a cult hero in the old Pacific Coliseum, where fans would boisterously chant "Haaar-Old! .... Haaar-Old!....Haaar-Old!" over and over. Even in the later years of his career when he would revisit Vancouver as a member of another club, the fans would cheer for their hero.

Snepsts making the NHL was an odd-defying feat. Edmonton Journal writer Mark Spector might have put it best when he wrote "Harold Snepsts was the ultimate diamond in the rough. Light on the diamond, heavy on the . . . well, you get the picture."

Harold had no real finesse skill to speak of. He was a down right terrible skater. He seemingly ran on the ice instead of gliding in strong strides. He had little speed and even less mobility. This made him prone to being beaten one-on-one by a fleet footed enemy. Harold also was an adventure with the puck. Over time he learned to almost avoid handling the puck. If he did have to play it he'd most likely just fire it out of the zone. However because he often played with his back to the play, he was often intercepted.

What Snepsts could do though was extremely valuable. He intimidated the opposition. You would think twice before traveling to the slot in front of the Canucks net, as Harold would punish you with enjoyment. He loved to hit and did so with great aggression and authority. In his younger years he was a willing and good fighter, though. Essentially he was on the ice to add size and aggression, and to keep the other team honest.

One of the reasons why Harold lasted over 1000 games in the National Hockey League was because he was as popular with his teammates as he was with the fans. He had a legendary sense of humour and was a great leader. The great character he showed every day of his career was an immeasurable contribution that far outweighed any amount of goals or bodychecks he collected.

Harold was born and raised in Edmonton. His long road to the NHL began as a simple desire to play indoors during the cold, unforgiving Edmonton winters. As an 11 year old, Snepsts, who like many top bantam players of that day desired to play for the local Maple Leafs Athletic Club.

"I was playing for Beverly Heights (a local club team) and that was the elite - to make it to the Maple Leafs and the indoor rink," said Snepsts. And while he had to scrape and claw his way just to stay on the team.

"After I turned 12 I barely made every team I played on," said Snepsts.

Snepsts graduated from the MLAC to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League.

"Initially, you were just happy to play Bantam AA. Then as you started playing there, you realized that a good portion of the guys that made the Oil Kings were from the Maple Leafs."

But it wasn't that easy for Snepsts, who was nearly cut from the Leafs juvenile team.

"Harold Snepsts was the worst skater on the team, but he could run like crazy on the ice," said coach Jim Stewart

"It was a fine line between being cut from that team and not making the Oil Kings, to not making professional hockey at all," Snepsts said.

Yet Snepsts persevered and did stick, and did graduate to the Oil Kings.

"He was tough, he had the size and he loved to practice but I still thought he was a long term project. When I look back on my NHL and junior career and all the players played with and against, I would have to say Harold fell into the category of the guy you thought was never going to make it." said junior and NHL teammate Darcy Rota.

But he did. He was brought in for his toughness, and he supplied it amply. In one legendary fight, Snepsts tangled with Clark Gillies, a future NHL power forward. "We fought, we stopped, then we fought again. We both ended up with black eyes," remembers Snepsts fondly. .

Snepsts was a NHL prospect because of his size and toughness, but even he knew he was a long shot.

"All I wanted was to get drafted anywhere and get a tryout." he said. His wish was granted when he became the third-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1974 entry draft.

After his initial training camp with the Canucks he was sent to the minor leagues, though by midseason was recalled permanently to the NHL. He would be a standout in his own style of defense in Vancouver, and twice represented the Canucks in the mid-season all star game, including in 1977 when the game was held in Vancouver. The crowd went wild when they introduced the local folk hero.

"Dirty Harry's" career highlight came in 1982 when the Canucks made an unexpected run at the Stanley Cup. Harold was incredible that spring, but unfortunately is remembered for a mistake that perhaps cost the Canucks a win in game one of the Stanley Cup finals. In overtime, Harold fired a loose puck straight up the middle, in a desperate attempt to clear the puck. Except the puck landed right on the stick of the great Mike Bossy. Bossy, perhaps the best pure goal scorer ever seen in the NHL, quickly put the puck behind Richard Brodeur to clinch game one. The feisty Canucks deserved to win that game, and while it is unlikely that it would have made a difference in the series with the dynastic Islanders, it was too bad they lost as they seemed to lose some momentum as well..

He played 10 seasons with the Canucks before being traded to Minnesota for Al MacAdam in 1984. The Canucks thought Snepsts was dispensable because of age, injuries, and because promising youngsters like Rick Lanz, Michel Petit, Garth Butcher and J.J. Daigneault were in the system.

It is interesting to review the comments of general manager Harry Neale on the day he made the deal. Said Neale: "I think we may have done Harold a favor. If we had let compassion come into our decision and kept him it might not have been best for either party. He is going to a good team that wants him. We haven't exactly sent him to hell . . . It wasn't going to be long before one of the young defencemen nudged him out of here anyway . . . He will get a new lease on life with a new team."

He stayed only one season in Minnesota and had to wait to get to Detroit to become reborn. He signed as a free agent with the Red Wings in 1985, and became a cult hero in Motown as well.

"I learned an awful lot in Detroit what a veteran should do to help turn a club around," he says. "We had about six old guys and it is unbelievable what you can do to help the young players. There is a lot of pressure on them to succeed right away and sometimes they didn't know where to turn. You just have to tell them their time will come. Talk to them in the dressing room and on the road and give them some confidence."

After 3 years in Detroit, he was released of his contract and seemed destined to retire. However he did desire to return to Vancouver, and publicly said he will only play with the Canucks. The Canucks were interested as well, as new general manager Pat Quinn had been critical of the lack of leadership and experience in Vancouver in the previous couple of years.

Snepsts signed and played almost two full years in Vancouver. He was instrumental in teaching one of the brightest youngsters in Canucks history. He was the road trip roommate of 18 year old phenom Trevor Linden. Linden would go on to become one of the best players in Canucks history, and is even better known as one of the nicest guys off the ice. Both accomplishments have a little Snepsts magic in them.

Snepsts, along with Rich Sutter, were unexpectedly traded at the the 1990 trading deadline to the St. Louis Blues. The Canucks were looking for a youth movement and sent the two veterans to St. Louis. Harold enjoyed his end of his season in St. Louis so much that he decided to return for one more year for the 1990-91 season. He had two goals left - to play in 1000 NHL games and to drink from the Stanley Cup.

While his thirst was never quenched, he did become the 70th player to appear in 1000 NHL games. That's an amazing fact for a player who based on his skill level likely never should have played in any.

There was a party for Snepsts on the night of his 1000th game. Snepsts, who scored the game winning goal against Detroit in his 999th game (just his 4th goal since 1984!), said "With this body, I'm just trying to get to 1,001." Ironically, Snepsts hurt his hip in game 1001 and never finished the game.

He ended his career with 1,033 games, 38 goals and 195 assists. He also had 2,009 penalty minutes, the equivalent of 33.5 games in the penalty box.
Originally Posted by Canucks Legends
many of the hundreds of players who have skated for the Canucks during the last 35 years have possessed more talent than Harold Snepsts. But few, if any, had a greater passion for the game than the big defenseman… and few, if any, were more popular with fans or teammates than the Edmonton native with the rock solid blue collar work ethic.

I think he was truly one of the big strongmen of the game,” says fellow defenseman Paul Reinhart, who played both with and against him. “And when I say strongmen, I’m talking about how he played a good, strong game. He wasn’t just a big, tough-guy fighter. He was a good, strong honest player.”

“(I came in) at that time when the Broad Street Bullies were trying to intimidate the league and everyone was looking for someone to combat that…”

…he certainly didn’t shy away from the rough going. But he also worked hard to learn the tough trade of NHL blueliner. He used his 6’3” frame and his penchant for physical contact to his advantage, but he also mastered the art of defensive responsibility. During his first 10 seasons with Vancouver, he was named the club’s top defenseman four times. He represented the Canucks in the NHL all-star game in 1977 and 1982, and was a centra figure in the team’s run to the 1982 Finals.

“The first time I played with Harold, the first thing he said to me was, if you can establish yourself as a reliable person in your own end as a defenseman, there will always be a job for you,” says Doug Lidster, one of two other Canucks to be named the club’s top defenseman on four separate occasions.

…he remains one of the most loved Canucks of all-time, not just by fans but by his fellow players. Asked to name his most memorable teammate, forward Rick Blight didn’t hesitate. “Definitely Sneptsy. He was a lot of fun to be around.”

“He was a favourite and rightfully so,” adds Lidster. “Everybody pulled for him because of his smile and his laugh. But he always instilled that pride and work ethic and respect for doing the right thing. That was another word that was big for him – respect. He was a guy who played within his limitations, and took pride in that.”

Snepsts was a huge factor for Vancouver during the 1982 playoffs, when he played 17 games to help the Canucks reach the finals. The team had lost blueliners Rick Lanz, Kevin McCarthy and Jiri Bubla to injuries, so the rest of the crew had to step up. “There were times in Los Angeles, when there were three of us playing probably the last 10 minutes or more of the games. I lost about 15 points during the 1982 playoffs”.

“They always talk about Harold’s giveaway,” says former Canucks broadcaster Jim Robson. “They don’t say that he was tremendous in the playoffs that year. He played game after game and was great.”

…one of the last NHL players to play without a helmet, Snepsts became a comforting, familiar sight for fans in the Pacific Coliseum over his career in Vancouver, giving them a thrill with his unique skating stride and his dark hair flowing behind him whenever he found some open ice that let him move.

…Why does he think he was so popular as a Canuck? “Passion. I loved this game. I would just hope, maybe, that I showed that I cared about winning and losing and not for individual stats. And I think people can relate to a kind of a blue collar person.”


Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1977-78
Nicknamed “Dirty Harry”… almost had an ear severed when struck by an opponent’s stick. Developed into Canucks’ most respected defenseman last season. Plays a bruising, hitting style and specializes in standup bodychecks… especially adept at clearing rival forwards away from the slot
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1978-79
The Hammer”… That hits the nail on the head… tough guy who makes a mission out of dumping opposing players in the slot… not a good skater but specializes in hitting and blocking the puck… jovial and easygoing off-ice, determined on ice.
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1982-83
A solid backliner for seven seasons, needed showcase of playoff success to be appreciated… strong puckhandler but he’s a defensive defenseman who takes care of business in his team’s zone… bad pass gave Islanders OT goal in game 1 of final but he shook it off to play well… jovial, popular player off the ice, very intense on it… size and strength make him one of the best at keeping the front of the net clear of bodies.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1986-87
Snepsts, never one with great speed to begin with, has lost whatever speed he had and has become very slow. He can not keep up with the play as it moves around him, either by skating forward or backward, and he is increasingly beaten one-on-one by opposition forwards who go around him like he doesn’t exist. He has almost no mobility within the offensive zone either, and matches that with an impotent shot from the point. He will not pinch into the play. The thing Snepsts does best now is move the puck up smartly, but that is contingent on his getting to the puck in the first place and somehow avoiding the forwards checking him in the second place.

Snepsts can clear men out of the slot pretty well because he is big and strong. He adds size to the defense and keeps things honest in his zone and is still effective taking the opposition out of the play along the boards or in the corners – when he can catch them. Snepsts was out injured for much of last year and how he recovers from that injury is a question. The Wings hope he can be a patch on the defense until some youngsters get ready to move in, but at this point, that’s doubtful. He has got to be at the end of his career. He can barely keep pace with the play around him.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1987-88
The finesse game has never been Harold’s game, and it is less so today than ever before… He is very weak at handling the puck in his own end and frequently has his back to the play, meaning that he’ll make bad, blind passes around the boards or up the middle. But the difference in Harold’s play last year as opposed to previous years is that coach Jacques Demers has minimized Snepsts’ weakness by not having him handle the puck.

Harold puts fear into the opposition and makes them pay for camping in front of the Wings’ net. Snepsts loves to hit and can do so with authority, and he has learned to temper that desire with common sense. Snepsts doesn’t run around the defensive zone in search of prey, but waits for the opposition to come to him. And then he lets them have it. He clears men from the slot well because he is big and strong. He adds size to the defense and keeps things honest in his zone. There are many intangibles with Snepsts’ performance, not the least of which is his obvious inability to play the game at the NHL pace. But because his physical play is so important, the Wings and Demers have found a way to use him so that he does not hurt the team. The key is his play in front of the net, and he played very well last year. He is also a great team guy and has a good sense of humour, so he’s important in the locker room too.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1988-89
Snepsts makes his play effective by staying away from his weaknesses; he doesn’t, regularly, for example, handle the puck… He showed better than anyone could have hoped for in Vancouver, and he’d like to play at least one more season.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1989-90
Harold’s time with St. Louis may be limited because of several younger defensemen on the verge of full time NHL duty, but Snepsts can still contribute to a degree.

Last edited by Dreakmur: 11-28-2012 at 01:24 AM.
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