2x Top 10 SHG(4, 10)
3x Top 24 Assists(13, 16, 24)
9th in AS/G, 95-96
SH TOI/G(89 to 96): 3, 5, 3, 3, 5, 3, 5
21st in NHL in assists during 7 year peak(89 to 96), everyone in top 33 already selected
Michal Pivonka is often the forgotten man in the list of Caps greats. He was over-shadowed by Gartner, Carpenter, Hunter, Iafrate, Langway and Bondra, but few players have done more for the franchise. A top defensive centerman, Pivonka contributed in all aspects of the game and deserves most of the credit for making Peter Bondra the offensive force he became. Forced to retire due to debilitating injuries, Pivonka faded from the scene but won't soon be forgotten.
It seems that at times Bondra will do anything to get a goal and he has worked very well with center Michal Pivonka during his entire career in Washington. Pivonka knows how to feed Bondra perfectly, assisting on 60 percent of Bondra's goals...
... some of the league's greatest international stars including Pavel Bure of the Vancouver Canucks, Mats Sundin from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capital center Michal Pivonka, and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Uwe Krupp...
1x NHL All Star Game Participant
1980 Olympic Gold Medalist
Hartford Whalers Captain, 1983-85
United States Hockey Hall of Fame Member
IIHF Hockey Hall of Fame Member
SH TOI/G(80-87, excluding 83-85): 3, 4, 1, 5, 1
Leading scorer of US 1980 Olympic Team
26th in points, 1983-84
29th in assists, 1983-84
Under the guidance of his famous father, he enjoyed three outstanding years at the University of Wisconsin. He racked up 256 points over those years and was twice selected to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association All-Star Team after leading the conference in goals. His relative lack of size caused many teams to avoid drafting him, but the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him 66th overall at the 1977 Amateur Draft with the hope that he would mature in college and gain valuable international experience wearing the colors of the United States.
He played well for the U.S. at the 1978 and 1979 World Championships before committing to the national team as it prepared for the Lake Placid Olympics. Then Johnson proved to be one of the top players during Team USA's Miracle on Ice gold medal win in 1980. He scored 11 points in seven matches and was a respected figure in the dressing room. His two biggest goals came in the 4-3 upset over the USSR that paved the way to the gold medal.
After the Games, Johnson joined the Penguins for the last 17 regular-season games and first round of the playoffs. His acquisition brought the team some badly needed headlines in a city where the sports pages were dominated by the Steelers in football and the Pirates in baseball. He played solidly and proved he could stand the pace of the NHL game. As a rookie in 1980-81, he scored 33 points on a weak Pittsburgh squad and then represented the U.S. at the World Championship in the spring and the Canada Cup in the fall. Halfway through the 1981-82 season, he was traded to Minnesota. Following the North Stars' early exit from the playoffs at the hands of Chicago, Johnson again represented his country at the World Championship.
His career took a turn for the better when he was sent to Hartford in a deal consummated at the NHL Entry Draft. The Whalers utilized his speed and offensive savvy in a way that allowed him to play his best hockey as a professional. He was often teamed with xxx and xxx and produced consecutive 30-goal seasons in 1982-83 and 1983-84. In 1984, after a 35 goal season, he was named the Whalers' most valuable player. As William Houston noted, "It took him a while to learn the little tricks needed to make a small man effective in the rough NHL when to drive for the net, when to be aggressive and when to back off to save energy."
A popular player wherever he went, Johnson totaled 508 NHL points. He was often deployed on both the power-play and the penalty-killing units and was always highly regarded for his on ice intelligence. And his performance at Lake Placid in 1980 made him one of the heroes of U.S. hockey to a whole generation of fans.
His son Mark will become perhaps the greatest college hockey player ever, as well as Olympic hero and NHL star. But in the meantime all he wants for Christmas is a Soviet Union hockey jersey, preferably Vladimir Petrov.
Yes, that's correct. The son of an hockey legend and very much an American hockey legend in his own right grew up idolizing the Soviets. I don't think dad could have been any happier.
Mark Johnson emulated the Soviet game perfectly, playing a beautiful brand of hockey based on skill, skating and passing. His teammates called him "Magic," because the things he could do with the puck and the plays he could create with his wondrous passing ability made some think he was hockey's equivalent to NBA star Magic Johnson.
"He was our Gretzky," said Olympic teammate Jim Craig.
He was good. He led Madison Memorial to the 1976 Wisconsin High School championship in 1976, but he almost missed much of his final year of secondary schooling because some felt the 17 year old was ready for the 1976 Olympic team. After scoring 11 points in 11 exhibition games, he ultimately was not considered for the team as his father, who was coaching Team USA at the Innsbruck Games, feared charges of nepotism.
Father and son would unite the next season at the University of Wisconsin where both will forever be legends. In Mark's freshman year he led the Badgers to the NCAA championship. Mark, who scored 36 goals and 80 points in 40 games, scored 2 goals and 3 points in the title game against Michigan.
Johnson would complete three seasons at Wisconsin, completing his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology in 1994 after his hockey career ended. But in the 1979-80 season the Americans would not leave their top collegian off their Olympic team this time around, especially since the games were to be played in Lake Placid, New York. Not even the fact that Herb Brooks, Bob Johnson's fierce rival and downright bitter enemy, was coaching the team could keep Mark Johnson off this team. He was too good. Without him, Team USA had no hope of any hockey glory in 1980.
Johnson led all Team USA players in pre-Olympic scoring, with 33 goals, 48 assists and 81 points, and then led the Americans in Olympic scoring with 11 points. Though Mike Eruzione scored the famous game winning goal against the Soviets, it was Johnson who scored two keys against the mighty Russians. His first goal tied the game at 2-2 with just one second left in the first period, and his second goal tied the game at 3-3 midway through the third period, setting the stage for Eruzione's game-winner. Johnson then went on to score the game-winning goal in team's 4-2 win over Finland to give the Americans the 1980 Olympic gold medal!
Following the Olympics Johnson moved on to the NHL, joining the Pittsburgh Penguins who drafted him 66th overall back in 1977. He would go on to be Pittsburgh's rookie of the year in 1980-81, but he never could get established in the Steel City. His small size and international game put him at a disadvantage in the rough and tumble world of the NHL. He would have to adjust his game if he were to succeed in the NHL.
Adjust he did, and succeed he did. After a short 10 game stint with the Minnesota North Stars, Johnson joined the Hartford Whalers in 1982. It was with the Whalers he is best remembered as a pro, playing on a line with xxx and xxx. In his first year he exploded for 31 goals and 69 points, and then set career highs in 1983-84 with 35 goals and 87 points. That year he was even invited to the NHL All Star game, where he tied an All Star game record (since broke) with 3 assists.
It ended at last, and Brooks had the players coast slowly around the rink so that the lactic acid could work itself out of their muscles. And that was when Forward Mark Johnson broke his stick over the boards. Mark Johnson, who made the team go. Mark Johnson, who was its hardest worker, its smartest player.
Brooks treated Johnson differently, too. Johnson is a competitor, one of those rare players who find the puck on their stick all night long. He is absolutely dedicated to hockey, and was dedicated to the team—a leader by example. Yet, until September, Johnson had no idea where he stood. No one did—Brooks had an ax over everyone's head. But Brooks took Johnson aside shortly after the Skate Till You Die episode and told him, "You're the guy who's going to make or break us. When you're really playing, our whole team gets better."
Johnson, busting toward the net, weaved through the two Soviet defensemen and picked up the puck. He feinted, dropping his shoulder as if to shoot, and Tretiak went to his knees. Johnson pulled the puck back, moved to his left a bit and slid the puck behind Tretiak and into the net just before time expired.
Brooks was most impressed by the skill of three players who had given his Gophers fits so many problems over the years: Mark Johnson of University of Wisconsin, xxx of University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Dave Christian of the University of North Dakota.
Of the three, Johnson was the most refined, and was so smooth when he beat you, it was almost painless.
Despite his size, Johnson proved his ability to stand up to a check during the Games. He assisted on the winning goal in the gold medal clinching victory over Finland when he outmuscled a Finnish defenseman behind the net and put a perfect pass on the stick of xxx.
"He's not big, but he's got hockey smarts," Bastien said. "I've seen him five times and every time he had the knack for making the big play."
Mark Johnson, a former University of Wisconsin hockey star who now plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, apparently thrives on pressure.
But Tuesday night Johnson, who has earned the nickname "Magic" from his teammates, scored twice as the Penguins defeated the Boston Bruins in Boston, 4-2, in the first game in the best of five first round playoff series.
"Mark Johnson has been a big plus for us," said Russ Anderson, a player for the Penguins. "He comes up with the big plays and he's a winner. He's already proven that."
Gretzky, who had only one assist and one shot on goal at that juncture, went into his patented 360-degree puck-handling spin just inside the left point. But Johnson, who more than held his own against the NHL's leading scorer earlier this season, knew Gretzky's move well.
With impeccable timing, the former Olympic hero darted behind the Oiler center, made a clean steal at top speed and was about 20 feet up ice before Gretzky had realized his pocket had been picked.
Mark Johnson is said to weight 160 pounds, and maybe with his hockey equipment on, he does. Stronger shoulders than his have buckled under the weight of leadership, but his seem to bend with the burden.
"There's no question he makes our club go," says US coach Herb Brooks of the 22 year old center from Madison, Wisc. who played for his father, Bob, at the University of Wisconsin. "If I coached against Mark Johnson, I'd key on him."
That's what the Swedish team did Tuesday night in their 2-2 tie with the Americans. They kept sending fresh players out to cover Johnson while he skated shift after shift.
"You might see Mark get 30 or 40 percent of the ice time," said Brooks. "We have to get him the puck."
Johnson helped Tuesday by killing penalties and playing the point on the power play in addition to taking regular shifts while the team faced 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.
It still wasn't quite over and things got hairy when xxx went out for tripping with less than five minutes to play. But, again short-handed, Uncle Sam's kids picked up the clincher from ever-hustling Mark Johnson, perhaps the most offensively minded of all the players.
With pick #288, the Pittsburgh Hornets select Gilles Gilbert, G.
Originally Posted by wikipedia
He played in the NHL between 1969 and 1983 and retired with a 3.27 GAA. In the 1973-74, he was traded to the Bruins as a replacement for Gerry Cheevers who had gone to the WHA, and helped the team to the Stanley Cup finals that year. From 1976 to 1980, he teamed with Gerry Cheevers to form one of the best goaltending duos in the NHL, being runner-ups for the Vezina Trophy in 1980. Gilbert holds the NHL record for most consecutive wins by a goaltender with 17 which was accomplished during the 1975–76 NHL season.
Originally Posted by boston.com
Gilles Gilbert played seven seasons with the Bruins (1972-80), and shyness was not part of his vocabulary. However, there is no doubting his talent. In fact, for his Bruins career, Gilbert finished with a 2.95 goals-against average.
Gilbert remains as one of the Bruins all-time best goaltenders. He currently sits fifth all-time in wins (155), sixth all-time in games played (277), sixth all-time in minutes played (15,915) and 10th all-time with a 2.95 GAA.
“I’m absolutely proud of my career with the Bruins,” said Gilbert. “You dream when you are a kid to be drafted and play in the NHL and win the Stanley Cup. When I was a little kid I always hoped the Boston Bruins would draft me. The North Stars called and I signed with them, but when I wore the Boston Bruins uniform for the first time it was a dream come true.”
After playing with Boston, Gilbert was traded to the Detroit Red Wings at the start of the 1980-81 season for goalie Reggie Vachon. He played in Detroit for three seasons before retiring. For his career, Gilbert played in 416 games and finished with a 192 wins, 143 losses and 60 ties.
Originally Posted by loh.net
On May 22, 1973, the young netminder was acquired by the Boston Bruins who were trying to find an adequate replacement for the departed Gerry Cheevers and Eddie Johnston. During his first year in Beantown the young netminder posted a 34-12-8 record, played in the NHL All-Star game and helped the club reach the Stanley Cup finals. He continued to be the Bruins' chief puckstopper until Cheevers returned late in the 1975-76 schedule.
In the late 1970s Gilbert saw a moderate amount of action but his solid play kept Boston from overworking Cheevers. This helped the Bruins reach the finals in 1977 and 1978 and the semi-finals in 1979. Prior to the 1980-81 season, Gilbert was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for veteran Rogie Vachon. He provided steady netminding and veteran leadership on the struggling young club for three years before retiring in 1983.
He and Roloson will split time during the regular season and the club will go with the hot hand for the playoffs.
With pick #287, the Pittsburgh Hornets select Rocket Power, D.
Originally Posted by Hockey's Greatest Legends
Power played six years in the first decade of the 1900s. He joined the Quebec Bulldogs in 1903 as a defenseman. Power played on and off with Quebec until 1908. After his first pro season with Waterloo in the OPHL, Power rejoined Quebec switching mid season to the 1911-12 Canadiens. 1913 saw him back with Quebec when they won the Stanley Cup.
Originally Posted by seventieslord
In 42 top-level games, Power had 8 goals, 6 assists, 14 points and 82 PIM. Along the way, Power also played in the Alberta Senior League and Maritime Pro League. In the 1910 OPHL season, Power's 7 points were 2nd among defensemen and he was named a league all-star.
Originally Posted by The Trolley League
The difference seemed to be on defence where Billy Baird and Rocket Power of Waterloo formed an impenetrable wall to the Brantford forwards
...The Waterloo defence tandem of Baird and Power stood up the Brantford forwards for the second straight game as the Colts beat the Braves 6-3 for their third consecutive win
...The Berlin forwards, particularly Dumart and Frood had a tough time getting by the Waterloo defence pair of Billy Baird and Rocket Power
...Rocket Power and Billy Baird played another strong game for Waterloo completely shutting down Brantford‟s offence.
...coverpoint Rocket Power scored on an end to end rush.
...John Cross is a testament to the difference that strong defensive play makes to a goalkeeper‟s statistics. In the first five games of the 1910 season Cross allowed an average of 8.46 goals against per game, but after the Colts signed Rocket Power and Billy Baird his average dropped to 4.67 goals against per game, second only to Hugh Lehman; the following season without the benefit of playing behind Power and Baird his goals against average ballooned back up to 8.23 on a weak Brantford team.
...Hockey‟s original “Rocket”, Rocket Power was one of three hockey playing Power brothers along with Joe and “Chubby”. As his nickname might suggest, Power was one of the fastest skaters in the league, and he was also recognized for his clean play.
Originally Posted by The Toronto World Nov 16, 1915
Rocket Power of the Quebec Hockey Club is at the front and had enlisted immediately after the declaration of war. He is one of the best pro hockey players the City of Quebec has ever formed.
With pick #274 the Pittsburgh Hornets select Sergei Brylin, C/RW.
Originally Posted by loh.net
Possessing good speed and a sound grasp of all the game's facets, centre Sergei Brylin became a valuable member of the New Jersey Devils in the late 1990s. His superior puck-handling and strength on his skates made him a versatile player for the club and an asset on both specialty teams.
The Moscow native spent three years with the Central Red Army and was drafted 42nd overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1992. He agreed to join the club in 1994-95 then spent the first half of the season playing with the AHL's Albany River Rats during the lockout shortened season. He scored 54 points in 63 games for Albany then looked solid in the last 26 games of the season for New Jersey. He then played 12 games in the post-season for the Devils when they captured their first Stanley Cup.
Over the next eight seasons, Brylin showed signs of taking his game to the next level on to regress or suffer an injury. He even spent some additional time in the AHL but returned to full time duty in 1999-00. He played solid two-way hockey all year and scored eight points while helping New Jersey win its second Stanley Cup title.
In 2003, Brylin was limited to a mere 52 games, yet was able to suit up for five post season games in helping the Devils capture their third Cup title in nine years.
With pick #273 the Pittsburgh Hornets select Colin White, D.
Originally Posted by seventieslord
For the first five years of his career, White played behind four ATD defensemen, two of whom are hall of famers. White has killed 40% of penalties for his very strong PKing team. His career adjusted +12 is very respectable considering who his off-ice comparables often were.
White's 111 career playoff games are 4th among undrafted defensemen. Among the top-10 on this list (101+ GP), white has the most career minutes per game (these others are all 17-19 minute guys, this is why they are still available) and five of the guys in the top-10 got in a lot of their games in the 21-team era, when 76% of the league made the playoffs.
White is a tough customer, a no-frills stay-at-homer, and a crease clearer.
Originally Posted by 2003 Scouting Report
Not a very fast skater, but has a long stride and is balanced... learned to play within his limits... a fearsome bodychecker. Uses his excellent size (6'4", 210) to his advantage... Along the wall and in front of the net he is punishing... blocks shots...godo passed... does not make low-percentage plays...an able and willing fighter, very quick to come to the aid of a teammate...
Won two Stanley Cups and lost a seven-game final for a third. Hard-hitting stay-at-home defenseman who is a mainstay on the PK. He rounds out the Hornets' top six.
2x Stanley Cup Champion
PK TOI Ranks on team(since stat was recorded): 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3
Top 30 PK TOI Ranks in entire NHL(since stat was recorded, 50 game minimum): 2, 10, 10, 21, 23, 24, 27
In 1995–96, his and the Avalanche's first season in the NHL, Yelle became a regular as he played in 71 games on route to the Stanley Cup Championship. Known as an excellent faceoff taker and a gritty, hard-working player, Yelle played seven seasons for the Avalanche from 1995 to 2002, capturing another Stanley Cup in the 2000–01 season.
On October 1, 2002, prior to the 2002–03 season, Stephane was traded by the Avalanche, along with Chris Drury, to the Calgary Flames for Derek Morris, Dean McAmmond and Jeff Shantz. Yelle's transition was seamless as he established himself on the Flames checking line, helping Calgary to a 2004 Stanley Cup final appearance after a seven year playoff hiatus. Throughout his five seasons with the Flames, Yelle's versatility and defensive prowess was often highlighted as he would often fill-in as a defenseman when others were out injured.
Stephane Yelle was a very smart player who could read the oncoming attacks with great proficiency. As such, he became one of the NHL's most knowledgeable defensive forwards in the later 1990s and in the 2000s.
His hockey smarts were his greatest asset, because the sum of his skills were average at best. He was a good skater, but lacked the speed to be much of a threat. His hand skills made him a limited player offensively. Physically he was tall and rangy, not well built to battle against the league's biggest brutes.
Yet somehow Yelle was able to use his understanding of the game of hockey combined with his hard work to become a key role player and key penalty killer with the ritzy Colorado Avalanche. He helped the Avs win championships in 1996 and 2001, and helped the Calgary Flames reach the finals in 2004. He was a very popular player with the fans and his teammates, but most especially with the coaching staffs.
Yelle is best known with the Avalanche, where he played 3rd line center in the shadows of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. Yelle was more than a throw-in in the big trade that took him to Calgary. He was moved along with Chris Drury, to the Flames for Derek Morris, Dean McAmmond and Jeff Shantz.
Yelle, who also played with Boston and Carolina for short stints late in his career, retired in 2010 with 991 games played with 96 goals and 265 points. In the playoffs, where he earned his reputation as a valued NHL player, he chipped in 11 goals and 32 points in 171 post-season games. Underwhelming numbers to be sure, but his two Stanley Cup rings are far more reflective of his true worth.
Yelle was traded by New Jersey to the Quebec Nordiques on June 1, 1994, and made his pro debut in the AHL with the Cornwall Aces during the 1994-95 season. In 1995-96, both he and the Nordiques franchise relocated to Colorado. The Nords became the Avalanche and Yelle became an NHL regular. Yelle played in 71 regular season games and 22 playoff games for the Avalanche in his first season en route to the Stanley Cup championship.
With the Avalanche, Yelle continued to improve on his checking and penalty killing skills. Strong on faceoffs and considered one of the premier defensive players in the league, injuries limited Yelle to 50 regular season games with Colorado in 2000-01, but he returned for the playoffs and contributed to the Avs' Stanley Cup victory at year's end. The Bourget, ON native played one more season in Colorado before being traded to the Calgary Flames prior to the 2002-03 season. Upon his arrival with the Flames, Yelle continued his strong play in his own end and was a key player in the team's drive to the 2004 Stanley Cup final.
Calgary, Alberta - Stephane Yelle is something of the Zelig of the NHL. You don't notice him much. But there he is, always in the picture at this time of year.
No NHL player has been to the Western Conference finals more times in the past nine seasons than Yelle - seven. If he wins a Stanley Cup championship next month with the Calgary Flames, it will be the Ottawa native's third since joining the league in 1995-96.
In return, linemates Stephane Yelle, xxx and xxx delivered in all aspects for the Calgary Flames.
The post-season race is coming down to the short strokes and the Flames' made-for-the-playoffs line provided all that could be asked of them and more in yesterday's 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Set the tone on the first shift? Check.
Stem the tide after the opposition scored? Check.
Kill penalties? Win faceoffs? Score the comeback-igniting goal? Check, check and -- you betcha -- check.
"They had a huge start to the game. They had a huge start to the third period and, obviously, getting the goal by them set the work ethic for our team," said Playfair as he tipped his hat to the gritty vets.
While the other elements should come as no surprise, the trio played their biggest role in the opening minute of the third period of the important contest before the announced crowd of 10,178 at the United Center.
"The best defence is when you're 200 feet from your net," Yelle said. "We worked hard down low along the boards and spent a lot of time in their end. We were trying to work it more to the net, get more shots, and knew if we stuck with it we'd get more chances. That was one of them."
"I think we've missed just that for a lot of the year, especially on the road, a line that gets it in and controls it in their end," said defenceman xxx. "It's not a lot of fancy stuff, just mucking it up, grinding it out in their zone. That goes a long way, especially in tiring out their D. Not a lot of flash there but they take a lot of pride in what they do. That line has realized how they can be successful."
Top 20 Assists: 7, 9, 10, 17
Top 20 Points: 12, 20
Since 2003-04, Ribeiro is 20th in points, with 75% as much as 2nd place Ovechkin. He is only 10 total points behind Olli Jokinen (460-470) in the time frame. Their "per-game" numbers are basically the same.
His vs. 2 scores (removing outliers) by year since then:
78%, 75%, 72%, 71%, 52%, 49%, 48%
He played in the 2008 All Star Game at the tough to crack center position.
Ehrhoff is known as an offensive defenceman. He has strong skating ability, which allows him to quickly carry the puck up the ice, starting plays from his team's defensive zone, as well as join offensive plays deep in the opposing team's zone. He also possesses a hard shot, which earns him significant time on the power play. Upon joining the NHL with San Jose, he had to adjust his game to be more defensive. He gradually became counted upon more in defensive situations and has been used on the penalty kill, as well.
Originally Posted by NHL.com
While offense always has been his calling card, Ehrhoff won the respect of his San Jose teammates and coaches by doing the dirty work -- blocking shots and playing through injuries. Ehrhoff has brought those same qualities to Vancouver.
A more meaningful stat relates to the effectiveness of the Canucks' special teams, where Ehrhoff plays a significant role every game.
- 5'8", 169 lbs.
- Member of the IIHF Hall Of Fame
- Top-6 in Czech League goal scoring 8 times from 1960-1969 (2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 5th, 5th, 6th)
- 298 goals in 330 Czech League games (assists are recorded but they are unreliable)
- 36-33-69 in 61 International games (8 tournaments)
- Placed 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 5th, 9th on the Czechs in scoring in these 8 tournaments
- When leading the Czechs in points internationally, he placed 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th in the entire tournament.
- Top Player at World Championships (1965)
- Helped the Czechs to a medal in six of eight tournaments: Olympic Bronze in 1964 and 1968, Two World Championship Silvers, Two Bronzes. (they placed fourth the other two times)
Originally Posted by Kings Of the Ice
From 1955 to 1957 and 1959 to 1969, he devoted himself to Slovan. Here he grew to be one of the best centers of his day. While he was impulsive, temeramental, and hard to tame, he was also a very good stickhandler and very productive. He was the favourite of hockey fans whenever he was playing on their side.
Whenever Golonka scored, the fans almost brought the roof of Bratislava hall down. They even cheered him when he had to go to the penalty box for one of his many offenses. To some, he was "Ziletka" (Razor Blade), a player who didn't curry favour with anyone - in fact an all-round holy terror for his opponents, the referees, and even some coaches. But hockey was in his blood, and he played with enormous enthusiasm. Golonka could be the heart and soul of the team, captivating players and fans alike and seldom disappointing them.
Golonka was often sought out by journalists, who enjoyed his clever remarks... he liked to refer to himself as a street kid... he worked for everything he got in life...a unique shot of him standing with his arms broadly oustretched celebrating a goal became the material for a statue which still stands in front of the Sports Hall in Prague... Golonka didn't play very well in the 1969 World Championships (his last tournament); his meniscus injury was still bothering him. The team didn't win a medal, even though they beat the Soviets 2-0 and 4-3. Still, those two victories in such difficult times for his country warmed Golonka's heart more than a Gold medal would have.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Golonka is the Slovak Ice Hockey Legend of the late 1950s and the 1960s. He's to be credited for the emotional highlights of CSSR hockey, be it national or international. In the early 1960s he was valued as Europe's most gifted player and his 298 scored goals in 330 confrontations in the CSSR national league and 82 goals accumulated during 134 games in the national team bear record to his prowess as hockey crack.
He won bronze and silver at the Olympic games in Innsbruck, Austria 1964 and Grenoble, France 1968, respectively, as well as two bronze and two silver medals during the world championship. Despite his outstanding capacity on the ice, the gold medal as well as the national first league championship title would tragically remain out of his reach. Never before did a player that able fail the title so close and so often.
..Golonka earned his most famous nickname during a match against the powerful CSKA Moscow in 1957. Golonka's line was set up against legendary Russian crack Vsevolod Bobrov. Golonka sporting 60 kilograms that time, as often a victim of his own pure temper, bodychecked the 90 kilogram Bobrov so fierce and delicate that the Russian star nearly left the ice over the boards. After the action he hurried back to his teammates. They welcomed him with the statement that he did not just bodycheck Bobrov but rather gave him a close shave, sharp and clean as a Gillette razor. Hence he was to be called "Ziletka" (Gillettka).
... And quite often this passion led straight into a hefty fistfight followed by suspensions. As he was not accepted on the sports university in Bratislava he decided to join the military. He played at the Club Dukla Jihlava, a military team out of Prague during his service time. In 1959 Golonka saw his first world championship. The CSSR gained bronze with Golonka being the most prolific player in the national team. He finished the tournament with a total of 7 goals and 4 vital assists.
After his demobilization he was sought after by many clubs all over the country. But Slovan trainer Horsky convinced him to come back to Bratislava. The following years Slovan Bratislava managed to enter the cup finals on a regular basis. Players like Starsi, Dzurilla, Capla, Cernicky, Nedomansky and Golonka formed a strong Slovan team after years of insignificance. Golonka became best scorer of the league in 1960/61. He was the darling of the crowd. As he had to pause for a longer term due to an injury and the team performance started to drop, the fans demanded Golonka. He was their favorite. The little dynamo with the number 9. He was considered a showman, for some time he had the habit of getting on the ice before the rest of the team and circling the ice one full round. Only after this ritual the match was to start. Once he stepped on the ice as the last player, immediately the crowd started to get unease, they thought he was injured. But then the whole team cleared the field. He got on as the first player and circled his round laughing and cheering up the audience.
Golonka was very balanced all-round talent, he was apt in all facets of the game. He was creative, fast, technically able and strong. And he had a great tactical understanding of what was going on, or had to go on during the game. Anytime needed it was him setting the tone for the course in the game. The fans loved his self confident and provocative style and he was often called Muhammed Ali on skates.
During the 1965 world championship at Tampere Golonka again was voted best player of the tournament by a majority of European media and hockey representatives. He scored a total of six goals and gave eight assists. The CSSR team finally failed against the CCCP 1:3 and secured the second place.
The Swedish press found the following words for Golonkas performance: "There's a player amongst the CSSR team, his name is Golonka. One can only talk in words of superlatives about him. He is the Pele on ice, the Caruso on the puck, the Boticelli with the hockey stick, he is the only player in the tournament able to play the puck full speed skating backwards in unmatched precision. He's slogging without end, wrestles the puck from his opponents, he attacks, he defends, he directs the course of play, he assists and he scores by himself..."
Russian national trainer Tarasov needled the CSSR coaching staff before the contest by announcing: "If I had a player like Golonka, I'd take the WM title one hundred percent..."
Three years later, at the Olympic games at Grenoble, France 1968 a sensation became reality. After Alexander Dubcek, a politician representing a more liberal fraction of the communist party in the CSSR gained control of the state the whole CSSR found itself in an atmosphere of departure. A short period of time, to be known as the "Prague Spring" took the whole country. After years of Stalinistic repression, comparable to the former DDR (German Democratic Republic, or East Germany) the Slovak and Czech people found themselves in the midst of the very promising project of a society still communist but with a very human and liberal face. Fueled by these social turnarounds and a new found national confidence the hockey team of the CSSR was the first in a communist country to elect the captain in a secret and free vote instead of having this vital position nominated by the party. Golonka was elected with great majority. A Slovak was to head the national team in the upcoming event, a perfect sensation if one is a bit familiar with the traditional rivalries between Czechs and Slovaks in the former CSSR.
In one of the best and most explosive matches in international hockey the CSSR team beat the CCCP sbornaja 5:4. It was the first defeat for the Soviet steamroller after six years. The sports press, the fans and historians agreed that it was Golonka who lead the game. His duels with Russian defense heavyweight Ragulin were memorable and defining moments of hockey in these days. In one these duels Ragulin tried to bodycheck Golonka, but Golonka escaped with a smart move, Ragulin lost balance and fell down on the ice. His teammates had to help him with finding his helmet. He circled him in a sleek turn showing his tightened biceps. Golonka looked down on his posed arm, then shook his head signing no. And then he tipped on his brow, signaling that it’s not muscles, but cleverness that wins the game.
After the Russians caught up in the second period 3:2 Golonka answered with a decisive 4:2 goal, scoring the most important goal of the match. After the final whistle Golonka threw his hands in the air, fell on his knees and put his ear to the ice. This was to become an iconic photograph. In the background the Russian ice hockey giant Ragulin left the field, beat. This picture was front page of the sports press the world around the next day. The headline above it; "Golonka listens if the Russian Oil is still running!" The match became the sensation at home. It was a vital sign of a new way of thinking and feeling and a metaphor for the situation of the CSSR. The small nation on the edge of the iron curtain was set up against the all ruling might of the CCCP and for a short period of time it seemed possible, that the course of reform was to succeed.
The last match of the tournament did put the CSSR up against Sweden. The final score 2:2 secured the Russian triumph at the world championship once again. Golonka failed a vital chance in the last seconds of the game. And by this result the hockey metaphor for the state and fate of the CSSR continued. Six months after a triumphant return of the national team to Prague, with 70.000 people welcoming the team at the border and seaming the way all to the city center celebrating the brave match they fought against the Soviets, Russian Tanks invaded the country and crushed the reform course with brute force. Golonka was put on a list of wanted persons amongst other people of public or political interest. He had to hide in the countryside for several months. In the end, the Soviets won, again.
But "Zilletka" was to return once more. At the world championship of 1969, to be held in Prague, CSSR in origin, but moved to take place in Stockholm, Sweden because the Soviet occupants feared public unrest as thousands would commiserate in the tournament. Again Golonka headed the national team. But this time the mission was slightly different. With all resistance in the CSSR relentlessly quelled by the occupying CCCP tanks all eyes where on the hockey team again. Upon their arrival in Stockholm the CSSR team already had received more than 5000 private telegrams from fans at home. The dominating yield of the correspondence: "Beat the Russians. You don't have to win! Just beat the Russians." And beating the Russians they did, in both games! 2:0 and 4:3
It was the first time that the Russian national team was beaten by the same team twice in one championship.
Out of protest Golonka and five other members of the team crossed the star that symbolized the membership of the CSSR in the Warsaw Pact with hockey tape. They also turned their backs on the traditional handshake after the national anthem. Upon the teams return to Prague and despite a strict assembly ban 30,000 people gathered at the airport to welcome the team. The plane had to pass over the runway several times until the people where cleared off the landing strip.
Golonka had suffered from a severe knee injury just before the championship, he had to play the the last game against the Russians under constant medical treatment. After every period he received several injections into his leg. It was Golonka's last championship as a player. After the tournament he decided to go and play in Germany. There were various attempts to draft him to the NHL, but a permission to play in North America was improbable so he went to Germany. Also concerned about his knee, he figured that he would be treated softer in Europe than in North America. That turned out wrong, but Golonka stayed, paying legacy to his headstrong temper once again. As defensemen he scored 44 goals in 104 games.
In 1975 Golonka ended his career as player and started coaching the SC Riesersee and became German Champion in 1978. He came back to Czechoslovakia then to coach the CSSR Junior national team and Zetor Brno but returned to Germany and became Champion again 1984, this time with the Kölner Haie. Further Golonka coached HC Davos and after the breakup of the Iron Curtain he became coach of the ECD Iserlohn till1992 and the EHC 80 Nürnberg until 1995. After that Golonka became coach of the Slovak national team, but retired after that.
Jozef "Gillettka" Golonka is offical member of the Slovak, the German and the IIHF Hall of Fame.
Originally Posted by IIHF Top-100 Stories
“We said to ourselves, even if we have to die on the ice, we have to beat them,” said team captain Jozef Golonka in an interview many years later
Originally Posted by osobnosti.sk (translated through Google)
Golonka was noted for his tenacity, his deadly shot, and his inspiring leadership abilities
Golonka was at the forefront of the rebellion of the Czechs against their Soviet opressors:
Originally Posted by http://www.hockeyfights.net/articles/191
The meeting on the ice in the 1969 World Championships was much more than just a hockey game. It was politically charged. The Czechoslovakian players were determined to regain Czechoslovakian pride in their own little way.
The Czechoslovakians, who were famous for playing very conservative hockey, came out with an effort that stretched the meaning of the word intensity. The atmosphere was so tense that it was revealed later that Soviet Coach Anatoli Tarasov suffered a mild heart attack during the game.
The game started with a shocking act of defiance by the Czechoslovakian players. The Czechoslovakians’ jersey always displayed the Czechoslovakian emblem of a crest with a lion. A red star above the lion pledged allegiance to the USSR. The players covered up the red star with hockey tape despite great fears of repercussions.
The players played with an unmatchable level of desire. There was no denying their victory. Their hatred was real, very real. Their composure was commendable, but the emotion was incredible. The Soviet players were bewildered. They didn't understand why these players hated them so. One Czechoslovakian player, Josef Golonka, displayed his emotion by converting his hockey stick into a pretend rifle.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon star – Phoenix, March 15, 1965
the star of Czechoslovakia's win over Sweden was Josef Golonka, who scored two goals.
Originally Posted by Windsor Star, December 22, 1966
if center Josef Golonka is in the Czech lineup Monday, keep an eye on him. He's a dandy.
Originally Posted by Jim Coleman in the Calgary Herald, March 24, 1969
I am not offering an alibi for the Canadians. I'm just suggesting that, in the future, the Canadians should emulate Joe Golonka in his courteous treatment of all referees.
Golonka is the busiest, noisiest and most colorful participant in this hockey tournament. He captained the Czechoslovakian team. He is a heckuva fine hockey player and he's the best unpaid assistant referee in the history of hockey.
Realizing that the referees are overworked, Golonka aids them in the performance of their arduous duties. He raises his stick in the air and shouts when a referee misses and offside.
He takes the referees aside and explains the rules to them. He talks, talks, talks every second that he is on the ice. The bemused referees regard him as very helpful. When a referee misses a palpable foul, Golonka obligingly emits a shrill whistle and points at the offender.
Joe Golonka is the greatest European entertainer since the younger days of Maurice Chevalier. He is all have – but, he has hockey talents which match his histrionics.
Joe Golonka was a bit tired on Sunday night. He still hadn't recovered from his busy "assistant officiating" in last Friday's Czech victory over the Russians.
Nevertheless, he perked up quickly when he noticed the television cameras, which were sending the game back to Canada. On two occasions Sunday night, Golonka skated right in front of a rail seat camera before he took two of the corniest dives ever recorded on live television.
Once after Canadian defenseman had put him into the boards, Golonka deliberately stuck his agonized face right into the camera lens, permitted his eyes to revolve in their sockets and slowly he collapsed backwards, like a man who had been stabbed through the heart.
I'll never forget Golonka's performance when he scored the Czechs' winning goal against the Russians in the 1968 Olympics: he rolled on the ice in front of the Russian bench, laughing at his opponents. Then on his knees, he used his hockey stick is a bow and pretended to be playing a violin as he sang the Volga Boatman to the unamused Russians.
His is a great comic talent. He would be worth $1 million to one of those expansion teams in the NHL. The young Canadians made me proud of them on Sunday night, but I realized that the contracts won't win any medals at Stockholm. Accordingly, I hope that the Czechs win the gold.
Joe Golonka is 31 and this is his last world tournament. He is a performer who deserves an entire wing to himself in hockey's Hall of Fame.
Originally Posted by Montréal Gazette, March 25, 1969
the squirrely star of the Czechs is Yo Golonka, who is said to have a mouth like a front end loader.
Last edited by seventieslord: 08-05-2011 at 11:27 PM.
- 5'6", 155 lbs
- Top-20 in Goals Six Times (7th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 19th)
- Top-20 in Assists Three Times (16th, 17th, 19th)
- Top-20 in Points Five Times (15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th)
- Played in NHL All-Star Game (1947)
- Calder memorial Trophy (1942)
- Best points percentages by the seventies system: 71, 67, 61, 56, 56, 49, 47
Warwick's career outside the NHL is impressive as well. It seems like every year he was either a champion, a finalist, an all-star, or led his league or tournament in scoring:
- Memorial Cup Finalist (1940)
- Allan Cup Champion (1941)
- On pace for 4th in AHL scoring - played half of season in NHL (1950)
- 2nd in AHL scoring (1951)
- 8th in AHL scoring - on pace for 2nd, missed time (1952)
- On pace to lead OSHL in scoring, 1st AST, was leading playoff scorer, Allan Cup Finalist, Allan Cup Scoring Leader (1953)
- 7th in OSHL scoring, 1st AST, was leading playoff scorer, Allan Cup Champion, Allan Cup Scoring Leader (1954)
- 4th in OSHL scoring, on pace for 1st, 1st AST, 2nd in Olympic scoring, Won Olympic Gold (1955)
- OSHL leading scorer, 1st AST (1956)
- 1st in OSHL playoff assists, 4th in points (1958)
Warwick might have the most diverse and impressive North American non-NHL post-merger resume of any player! (completely aside from the fact that he was a very good NHL player)
Originally Posted by loh.net
An unselfish decision turned out to be the best one Grant Warwick ever made in his hockey career.
With Canada, represented by the Penticton Vees senior club, set to face the Soviet Union in the game that would decide the gold medal at the 1955 World Championship, the 33-year-old player-coach announced to his players that he would not play. Warwick was so intent on winning the world title that he wanted to concentrate on his duties behind the bench. He had been effective earlier in the tournament on a line with his brothers, Bill and Dick.
Before the game in Krefeld, West Germany, Warwick warned his players that if they lost they had better not go home, they might as well go to China. The year before in Stockholm, the Soviets, competing in their first world tournament, had dealt a huge blow to Canadian hockey pride by trouncing the Toronto East York Lyndhursts 7-2 to win the gold medal. Penticton played almost a perfect game, shutting out the defending champions 5-0, and the Warwick brothers, who grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, became the toast not only of Penticton, British Columbia, but of all Canada.
In the 1952-53 season volunteers from the Penticton fan club had raised $1,300 by passing the hat at a game to help pay for Warwick's release from the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League. After joining the Vees in British Columbia's Okanagan Senior Hockey League in December, Warwick scored 19 goals in 31 games as the Penticton club won the Western Canada senior championship and traveled east to face the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen in the Allan Cup finals. The Vees lost the series, but made no mistake the following year when they played host to the Sudbury Wolves and won the Allan Cup in seven games despite trailing early in the series. Warwick scored two key goals in the fifth game to tie the score twice and keep Penticton alive. As a result of their championship, the Vees were selected by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to represent their country at the 1955 World Championship and Warwick was named player-coach for the 1954-55 season.
Grant "Knobby" Warwick had been the NHL's rookie of the year in the 1941-42 season with the New York Rangers and had spent eight seasons and part of a ninth in the league, also playing briefly with Boston and Montreal. He scored 20 or more goals three times and finished his NHL career with 147 goals in 395 games.
Warwick was selected to play in the first NHL All-Star game at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1947, along with some of hockey's greatest stars, such as Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe.
Often in the doghouse in Boston for taking too many penalties, Warwick was welcomed with open arms in Montreal, where he played on a line with Bill Reay. But early in the 1949-50 season with Montreal he broke his nose and eventually ended up with the AHL Bisons.
He was traded to Boston in February of 1948 for three players, then sold to the Canadiens in October of 1949. He has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.
Originally Posted by Players: The Ultimate A-Z Guide Of Everyone Who Has Ever Played in the NHL
It was in large measure due to his great play for the Regina Rangers en route to the Allan Cup that the Rangers wanted Warwick for the following year. Although he stood just 5'6", he was a chunky 172 pounds, and with a low centre of gravity he was tough as nails to knock around.
Originally Posted by When the Rangers Were Young
Two young veterans, Tony Leswick and Grant Warwick, tough little fire hydrants both, also gave me high hopes.
Originally Posted by Lewiston Evening Journal, 1948-10-21
Cagey little Grant Warwick...
Originally Posted by Total Hockey
Following his career in the NHL, Warwick had his amateur status reinstated... served as Team Canada's playing coach in 1955 at the world championships... Canada breezed to the Championship with an 8-0 record, including a convincing 5-0 win over the Soviets in the final... Warwick declared that he was taking the trophy back to Canada, where it belonged. When the IIHF ordered Warwick to return the trophy in 1956, he had an exact replica made and sent it overseas instead. The original World Championship trophy would remain in Penticton where for many years it was displayed in a restaurant.
Originally Posted by IIHF 1908-1978
The Penticton V's from British Columbia were given the task of gaining revenge for the defeat in Stockholm of the Lyndhurst motors. Stan Obodiac paid this tribute to the V's in 1955: "A team of friends, the best that Canada had ever sent to a World championship." The V's included the Warwick brothers. They were a genuine ex-professional troop - tough, humorous, but short on temper at times. In the last match of the tournament they beat the Soviets 5-0 and Canada were world champions once more.
Originally Posted by Fischler's Hockey Encyclopedia
"Knobby" Warwick played a robust and efficient brand of offensive hockey for the Rangers from 1941 until he was dealt in 1947... Knobby received his amateur reinstatement and played for the Penticton V's, a senior team that won the Allan Cup in 1954. Surrounded by a hard-bitten crew, Knobby, along with his brothers, played in the world hockey championships in 1955. The canadians brought a boisterous, gashouse-gang style of hockey to the championships. Paced by the galvanic Warwick brothers, Penticton reached the finals against a heavily favoured Russian team and whipped them 5-0. b.
Originally Posted by Hockey Is Our Game
The Warwick brothers were the backbone of the robust V's. Grant Warwick was the playing coach of the V's, and he established the standards of on-ice deportment, which was rather physical, to say the least. For the Warwicks, the trip to Gernamy wasn't merely the greatest hockey assignment of their lives - it was a sacred pilgrimage to restore our national pride. From the outset, the V's didn't act like members of the canadian diplomatic corps. On the ice, they hit anything that moved. Before the tournament had gone very far, the European crowds were whistling their passionate disapproval of these tactics... the Canadian hockey wasn't pretty, but it was efficient. Although the Russians had some truly great hockey players, including Bobrov and Sologubov, who were at the peak of their careers, they had never been exposed to this type of close checking... the Penticton game plan had been designed to contain Bobrov, who personally had destroyed the Lyndhursts the previous year. It was so effective that Bobrov didn't have a single shot on the Canadian net throughout the entire game.
Originally Posted by War On Ice
Grant Warwick, short but rugged...
...The Warwicks were all hard-nosed products of Regina playgrounds - tough, sometimes rowdy, but singlemindedly dedicated to winning, at all costs... they owned a restaurant. They ran the hockey club. Some people felt sometimes that they were running the town. But they gave value.
...Jim Hunt, on hand for the Toronto Star, reported that during the quick interviews and pictures the V's often had their hands shaken by total strangers. The greetings were all variations of "Good luck! Make sure you really give it to the Russians!" Grant Warwick, having his hand shaken by men and women he'd never seen before, told Hunt, "It's wonderful and sort of frightening. But it certainly is making the boys realize what this tournament means to the people of Canada. I guarantee we'll be doing our utmost to live up to it."
...That's when Grant, whille we were waiting for the plane, got us all together. He didn't say much, except to repeat what the team had come over there for: to win. Then he stared around into every pair of eyes and said, "the next one that cuts up is on the next plane home."
...In Penticton they started a parade at the firehall, led by the firetruck and fire chief... The parade stopped at Grant Warwick's house... one great shout they heard was Grant's whooping message: "God Bless Canada! We brought the cup back home where it belongs and we'll keep it there!"
Last edited by seventieslord: 08-04-2011 at 11:59 AM.
- Inducted into HHOF in 1950
- Stanley Cup Finalist (1906)
- Won intercollegiate title (1903, 1904, 1906)
- Won OHA Senior title (1908)
- Went to Senior finals (1907)
- Won Allan Cup (1909)
- Scored three goals for the outmatched Queens University Team in their Cup challenge, 2nd on the team after HHOFer Marty Walsh
- 40 goals in 14 recorded SOHA games from 1907 through 1909
- 34 goals in 9 SOHA playoff games from 1907 through 1910
- 23 goals in 12 recorded CIHU games with Queen's University
- CIHU First Team All-Star (1905, 1906)
- SOHA First Team All-Star (1907, 1908)
Points of reference: Allan "Scotty" Davidson, who went on to be a great NHA plyer before going off to war, scored 8 goals in 4 games (2.00) and 4 in 4 playoff games (1.00)in the SOHA playing with Richardson, whose career 40 goals in 14 games and 34 in 9 playoff games gives him averages of 2.86 and 3.78.
With McGill University, there are a few strong comparisons to be made, using guys whose CIHU careers overlapped Richardson's:
- Richardson scored 23 goals in 12 games (1.92)
- Billy Gilmour scored 18 goals in 15 games (1.20)
- Marty Walsh scored 33 goals in 12 games (2.75)
- Frank Patrick scored 12 goals in 7 games (1.71), though he was likely a defenseman.
Originally Posted by loh.net
George Richardson was an outstanding amateur hockey player who grew up in the Kingston area at Limestone City. He made his debut with Queen's senior hockey team in 1903 and was known as a clean, gentlemanly player, a fine stickhandler, and prolific scorer. He scored five times against Princeton University in New York and was prominent against Yale University as Queen's won the intercollegiate title of America in 1903. Queen's was also the Intercollegiate Hockey Union champions in 1904 and 1906.
Richardson starred at left wing for the 14th Regiment of Kingston hockey team that went on to the Ontario Hockey Association finals three consecutive years from 1907 to '09. He posted a record seven-goal game as Kingston won the OHA Senior crown, 9-7 over Stratford, in 1908.
In a 1921 tribute the Toronto Telegram called him "a hero in sport and war." The British Whig of Kingston described Richardson as "the best amateur in Canada."
Originally Posted by Players: The Ultimate A-Z Guide of Everyone Who has Ever Played in the NHL
On ice and in battle, no man accorded with greater pride and dignity of purpose than Goerge Richardson.
Originally Posted by Honoured Members
Richardson was considered a great hockey player on many counts. He was a fine stickhandler and a powerful skater, and he possessed a hard shot.
Besides the stock comments from the books, I thought I'd provide for the first time, some first-hand accounts of how Richardson performed. Seems he was an all-around player with great individual skills. He sparkled wherever he played, and no one, with the exception of Marty Walsh, outshone him.
Originally Posted by NY Times, 1903-02-19
For the visitors Richardson excelled in dribbling tactics and in general all around play... Queens made four goals in the first half, Richardson shooting two of them after a run on each occasion of half the rink.
Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Press, 1906-01-21
On the Queens team are Richardson and Walsh, Said to be two of the fastest forwards in Canada.
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 1906-02-28 (regarding failed Cup Challenge by Queens University)
Marty Walsh at rover for the Queens seven was not surpassed in brilliancy by any member of the Ottawas. The little fellow did good work for his team, but it counted for very little, owing to the fact that he received poor assistance save for that of Richardson and sometimes Crawford.
Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Press, 1907-01-02
Richardson, Queen's University's left wing, is said to be the bright star of the aggregation.
George Richardson in action caused a buzz in the hockey world:
Originally Posted by Toronto World, 1912-01-30
George Richardson, former Queens and 14th Regimen star hockey player, was out with the Frontenacs for his first workout and played his old position of left wing. He will play in the game on Wednesday night against Varsity and will fill the gap caused by the loss of Boyer, who had his collar bone broken. Hockey fans are delighted to get him back again.
- 5'10, 220 lbs
- Stanley Cup (1902, 1903)
- Stanley Cup Finalist (1904)
- Intermediate CAHL Champion (1900)
- IHL and US Pro Champion (1905)
- Fit-Reform Cup (1909)
- ECAHA 2nd All-Star Team (1908)
- TPHL 1st All-Star Team (1909)
- League GAA Leader (1900-CAHLi, 1905-IHL, 1909-TPHL)
- League Wins Leader (1902-CAHL, 1904-FAHL, 1905-IHL)
- Had a record of 87-86-1 in 177 official games, with a cumulative GAA of 4.03 and 11 shutouts
- 4-2-2 in Stanley Cup play, with a 1.88 GAA and 1 shutout
- Retired in 1917, at age 39
Originally Posted by Ultimate Hockey
William Nicholson was one of the fattest men ever to play hockey at the semi-professional or professional level. Originally the goalie for the Montreal AAA "Little Men of Iron" -- circa 1901 -- he has been called the first true "butterfly" goalie. He was flopping to the ice to make saves at least 10 years before Clint Benedict, the goalie who has been generally credited with pioneering the style.
Throughout most of his career Nicholson was a solid, dependable goalkeeper. He played on some poor teams, such as the 1907-08 Shamrocks and 1912-13 Toronto Tecumsehs. He rounded out his career with the Toronto Arenas in 1916-17.
The sight of Nicholson in full uniform, wearing his trademark toque and weighing anywhere from 250 to 275 pounds, must have been delicious. Apparently, whenever he crashed down onto the ice to make a save, everyone would hold their breath in fear that the ice would crack. He was surprisingly athletic, though, despite the constraints of his plus-sized frame. His career, while not of Hockey Hall of Fame caliber, compares favorably to the goaltending standard of his era.
Up until now, not much is known about Nicholson aside from that he was portly and acrobatic and won a Cup. Let's take a look at what else I could find:
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 1900-02-19
Nicholson, the Montreal goalkeeper, was in great form.
This is about where the characterization of "Nicholson the Martyr" begins:
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 1903-01-19
The holders of the Stanley Cup, the Montrealers, were defeated by the Ottawas at Dey's rink, Saturday night, by a score of 7 to 1. Nicholson's exceptionally good work between the poles was the reason for the score not being larger... Billy Gilmour threw in some cannonball shots at Nicholson, and it was only hard luck that prevented him from adding more goals to his list... Suddie shot hard and accurately when opportunity offered, but bothered Nicholson not a little.
Really good account of Nicholson at his peak. He was a major part of Montreal's success, a very aggressive goalie who in this case actually made the play that started the rush back for a goal, thanks to his aggression on the puck carrier.
Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen, 1904-01-21
Nicholson was in fine form and he needed it... the last couple of minutes, the Maroon jerseys sent in shot after shot and Nicholson had to move his padding over the glacial... Caps came very close to scoring when Sims got in, but Nick did his old trick of sliding out and falling down on the puck. It worked, and ***** got away for a shot by Marshall which scored.
Looks like the next goalie was being judged by the standard Nicholson set:
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 1904-12-27
Brighton, who guarded the nets for the Wanderers, made good, and is certainly a worthy successor of his predecessor, Billy Nicholson, now with the Calumets.
Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Press, 1905-01-08
Nicholson played a wonderful game, stopping shot after shot that looked like a score for the gold and black.
Originally Posted by 1905-01-10
If the locals happened to get past Stuart and ********, they had Nicholson to reckon with, and the score shows that none of the shots directed at his net were permitted to land on the inside.
Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Press, 1906-01-27
Pittsburgh would have rolled up a bigger score against Calumet last night had it not been for the great work in goal of Nicholson, who stopped many clever shots.
Nicholson may have had a temper, too:
Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Press, 1906-02-12
****** had rushed the puck down to the Calumet net and passed close to the goal, when Nicholson gave him a mighty smash on the hand. After the game, ******** told Nicholson that he had no reason in the world to make a play like that, and asked why he had done it. Nicholson answered that the Pittsburgh seven had been showing him up all game, and he had to do something to get even. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the condition of *******'s hand is such that it will keep him out of the game for quite a while.
Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Press, 1906-02-15
********** and Nicholson are both at the top in the goaltending line, and their phenomenal stops Tuesday night saved their teams many goals.
Originally Posted by Pittsburgh press, 1907-01-28
Reports from Calumet say the playing of ********** at goal was the finest ever witnessed on the ice in that city, and this is saying a great deal, for it must be remembered that that team has a good goaltender in Nicholson that is second to none in the country.
More dirty stuff:
Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Press, 1907-02-13
Even Nicholson got in his dirty work. Once, as captain Campbell skated across the ice in front of the Calumet net, Nicholson deliberately took his stick and slashed him across the ankles.
Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen, 1908-01-20
Laviolette and ******** were the pick of the Shamrocks, Nicholson doing fine work in the nets.
A mixed review from 1908. Apparently Nicholson was excellent aside from two softies:
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 1908-01-22
Nicholson, who stopped a dozen times when he seemed helpless before Stuart, Russell, or Blachford, was twice beaten out by Johnson on long range shots, which looked easy to stop... Hern had a comparitively easy time of it, while Nicholson was doing a big night's work in the second half. This was due largely to the fact that the Shamrock centremen were not taking advantage of their chances... The Shamrock defense again proved itself to be a good one, Pitre, Laviolette and Nicholson all in turn doing fine work in keeping down the score, especially when the line in front of them began to weaken. Nicholson was beaten by two long shots, but clever dives to meet oncoming rushes and heady work in baffling scrimmages around the net saved the Shamrocks.
This one was after a 12-7 loss!:
Originally Posted by NY Times, 1908-03-19
The goalkeeping of Nicholson was the star feature of the game.
When Edmonton was trying to assemble a team of ringers to challenge for the cup in 1909 (Lester Patrick, Tommy Phillips, Didier Pitre, Fred Whitcroft), Nicholson was one player they pursued as a goalie. They eventually went with a different guy, but Nicholson did stick around and win two games to help them win the Fit-Reform cup (I have no idea what this is, but the stats for it are listed in SIHR and the newspaper mentions it too) - Nicholson played two of the 7 games, sporting a 3.50 GAA, compared to the 4.50 and 5.67 the other two goalies had.
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 1908-12-22
Another local addition to the ranks of the challengers today will be Billy Nicholson, goalkeeper of the Shamrock team of last winter that had the best defense record in the ECHA. "Nick" last night agreed to turn out today and help Edmonton during their training for the cup series, and it would not be surprising if he appeared in the challengers' lineup before the series is over. At his best there are few better net guardians in the business than the big fellow who has played successfully with Montreal, Wanderers, Calumet and Shamrocks.
When he returned, there was no shortage of interest in his services:
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 1909-01-22
Billy Nicholson, who went west with Fred Whitcroft's Edmonton team, is back in Montreal, having left the Stanley Cup challengers after the Winnipeg series. Nicholson has three offers to play with teams in the Cobalt league, but has not decided whether to leave Montreal or not.
Another quote showing that Nicholson was considered a good goalie:
Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen, 1909-09-21
For goalkeepers, they ought to be well-satisfied. Besides Billy Nicholson, who performed in the flags last year, they have Percy Lesueur, of last year's Ottawas...
A quite humourous story about Nicholson from 1910:
Originally Posted by The Renfrew Millionaires
...finally Art Ross passed to ****** **** who shot the puck past *****. Haileybury had won! From the galleries, crowded with Cobalt supporters, there came cries of despair. Suddenly from the weight of humanity, the railing collapsed; many fans tumbled 15 feet to the ice and some were so seriously injured that they had to be taken to the hospital in sleighs. Thy hysteria continued. Winning fans showered pennies, dimes, quarters, even dollars on the ice. The air was filled with greenbacks and the players were trying to catch their floating fortune on the fly. But Billy Nicholson somehow obtained a tub and any money iced in his vicinity was quickly snared and tubbed. When he could find no more loot, and the sweat was pouring from his brow, he calmly turned the tub and its contents upside down and sat on it so that no one could dislodge him or the money. How much money he collected, Nick never admitted, but there were guesses that he wouldn't have to work for a long time.
Originally Posted by Montreal Gazette, 1913-02-10
Nicholson played a remarkable game in goal... Both ***** and Nicholson were called on to turn many shots aside.
Originally Posted by Toronto World, 1914-02-05
NICHOLSON, THE GREAT, IN GRAND FORM - Billy Nicholson, who was re-signed after being released on Monday, played a game in goal that has not been surpassed here all season...
Moran, LeSueur, Hern.... Nicholson?
These four are truly contemporaries, all born between 1877 and 1891. The earliest of their statistically recorded careers started in the 1900 season (Nicholson) and ended in the 1917 season (Nicholson, Moran). During this time, they all played in a variety of leagues, getting a good sample of competition, scoring level, and rules. For an eight-year period from the 1904 season, when Lesueur started, through 1911, when Hern retired, these four were all active in top-level hockey together.
It is my contention that Nicholson's goaltending stats stand up very well to those of these three HHOF goaltenders:
Why did they get in the hall and he didn't?
They are all multiple cup winners; however, he faced probably the stiffest competition in his cup matches, along with Hern, yet, he has the best playoff GAA of the four.
Was it a longevity thing? No, he played more games than LeSueur and a lot more than Hern.
Was it his GAA? Doesn't look like it. His career average edges Hern and is significantly better than Lesueur and Moran.
Then it must be his win%, barely over .500. However, Moran made it into the Hall with a losing record. And although GAA is a team stat, it tells a better story of his individual performance than win% does.
What about honours and awards? That's not it, either. Nicholson was a champion in two other leagues, a league all-star in two leagues, and led leagues in GAA and wins multiple times, just as often as the other three did.
In all honesty, it's pretty hard to tell what made them any better than him.
Finally, as this picture from 1914 will attest to, the rumours of his weight being 250-275 pounds are very exaggerated. His SIHR-listed weight of 220 pounds is almost certainly the best guess.
Forbes Kennedy was a consistent checker and penalty killer in an NHL career that lasted over 600 games. He never scored more than thirty points in a season but was known as a relentless competitor who would not back down from anyone even though he was only 5'8".
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Kennedy was a splendid example of what can be accomplished with moderate talent but an abundance of courage. Despite his small frame he was often the toughest and usually the grittiest player on the ice. As a result, he was a great fan favorite during the earliest days of the Philadelphia Flyers and was sorely missed after his trade in 1969.
Originally Posted by Ed Westfall
I killed penalties with a fellow named Forbes Kennedy, who was absolutely an artist at it. He was from Prince Edward Island, and he was short and stout. He was kind of the Bryan Trottier stature. And tenacious, a tenacious guy…
Originally Posted by Forbes Kennedy
I don't believe in cross-checking, and I don't believe in spearing. I believe in good tting, and a good fight sometimes clears the air.
With pick #329, the Pittsburgh Hornets select Tom Fitzgerald, W.
Scrappy winger who can play both sides will round out the Hornets fourth line/energy line.
Originally Posted by loh.net
Fitzgerald scored 27 points and was a key defensive player when the Islanders upset the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to reach the semi-finals in 1993. A few weeks later he was claimed by the Florida Panthers in the Expansion Draft and assumed greater responsibility with his new team. The hard working forward scored a career high 18 goals in the club's inaugural season in 1993-94. Two years later he scored eight points in 22 playoff games as the Panthers shocked the hockey world by reaching the Stanley Cup finals.
Late in the 1997-98 season, the Colorado Avalanche picked Fitzgerald up at the trading deadline. He was a solid player for them but was not resigned after Colorado failed to win the Stanley Cup. The expansion Nashville Predators signed him as a free agent and he became a team leader on the club as it held its own in the league.
A solid defensive player and penalty killer with the young Preds', Fitzgerald went on to play four seasons in Nashville before he was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks in the latter half of the 2001-02 season.
Fitzgerald's stay in Chicago was brief, as he would sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the off-season. After only two seasons in Toronto, Fitzgerald signed as an unrestricted free-agent with the Boston Bruins in the summer of 2004. Fitzgerald lived out a childhood dream in Boston, appearing in 71 games with his hometown Bruins.
Originally Posted by wikipedia
He played parts of five seasons for the Islanders and the first player in NHL playoff history to score two shorthanded goals on the same minor penalty, against the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 2, 1993, which also equaled the NHL record for shorthanded goals by a player in one game. He was selected as one of the original Florida Panthers in the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft. Although he has been cast as a defensive forward in the NHL, he had his best scoring years in Miami and was one of the leaders in Florida's 1996 Stanley Cup run. In those 1995–96 playoffs, Fitzgerald scored the decisive goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a 58-foot slapshot that found its way past Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso.
He was briefly traded to the Colorado Avalanche in 1998 before being drafted in another expansion draft, this time by the Nashville Predators, who sought out his veteran leadership. Fitzgerald was named Nashville's first captain and so served for four seasons. He has subsequently played for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Toronto Maple Leafs. While with Toronto, Fitzgerald and his Maple Leafs teammate Gary Roberts both played in the 1,000th game of their careers on January 13, 2004.
With pick #330, the Pittsburgh Hornets select John Cullen, C.
Originally Posted by loh.net
Cullen turned pro in 1987-88, playing in 81 games with the Flint Spirits of the IHL, filling the scoresheets with 48 goals and 109 assists for 157 points. He was named league MVP and was given a good long look at the Penguins' training camp the following year, which led to a starting spot with Pittsburgh. In his rookie season, Cullen appeared in 79 games, scoring 12 goals and 49 points. He followed that up with 32 goals and 92 points the next year. In 1990-91, he had the best statistical season of his career, scoring 31 goals and 94 points in 65 games with the Penguins before being traded to the Hartford Whalers with 13 games left in the season. He scored another eight goals and 16 points there to finish with a combined total of 39 goals and 110 points. In his one full season with the Whalers, Cullen contributed 77 points in as many games.
Midway through the 1992-93 season, Cullen was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He helped lead the Leafs to the Conference finals where they lost a thrilling seven-game series to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. During his time in Toronto, Cullen was saddled with an assortment of injuries, the most serious of which was a herniated disc in his neck.
Cullen signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the shortened 1994-95 season, looking to recapture some of that magic he had when he first came into the league. However, times had changed and Cullen was unable to produce to the satisfaction of himself or the team, scoring 37 points in 46 games and shortly after signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1995, where he played for another two seasons before facing the biggest test of his life, a battle with cancer, in 1997.
Originally Posted by Hockey's Greatest Legends
The Fort Erie, Ontario native played college hockey at Boston University where he was a perennial all star. Because of his lack of size, he wasn't drafted in the NHL Entry Draft, but Buffalo did make him the 10th selection of the 1986 supplemental draft.
John never played with Buffalo. After finishing his college, he turned pro with the IHL's Flint Spirits. In his first professional season, John scored 48 goals, 109 assists and 157 points in 81 games!! He added 26 more points in 16 playoff games. Needless to say, John cleaned up at the post season awards dinner. He was named a First Team All Star, league MVP, top scorer and top rookie (shared with Ed Belfour). Not a bad first impression!
During the 10 pre-season games in 1988 John impressed the Pittsburgh Penguins enough to offer him a contract. The Pens already had Mario Lemieux but were looking for a second line pivot-man. They found him in John.
John's first NHL season was 1988-89. He scored 12 goals and assisted on 37 others. The following season he exploded with 32 goals and 60 assists for 92 points.
John took his game to the next level in 1990-91. In his first 65 games with Pittsburgh he scored 31 goals and 63 assists. But then the hockey world was shocked by one of the biggest trades in NHL history. John was sent to Hartford with ***** ***** for long time Whalers Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and ****** ******. That trade had deep implications on both franchises. With the leadership and defensive abilities of Francis and Samuelsson, Pittsburgh turned into Stanley Cup dynasty, winning two consecutive Stanley Cups. Meanwhile, John struggled with less talented linemates in Hartford. Francis and Samuelsson were the heart and soul of the Whalers and many say the franchise was never the same since that trade. Hartford eventually relocated to become the Carolina Hurricanes.
After only 96 games in Hartford, John was sent to Toronto for future considerations.
In 621 NHL games over parts of 10 seasons for Pittsburgh, Hartford, Toronto and Tampa Bay, John has 187 goals and 363 assists. He enjoyed his finest season in 1990-91, when he established career highs with 39 goals and 71 assists for the Penguins and Whalers. John participated in two NHL all star games.
Cullen will serve as a spare center who can step into a secondary scoring line role when called upon.
Originally Posted by Montreal Canadiens official website
A calm, reliable stand-up netminder who played the angles well, Hayward confidently and competently relieved Roy on a regular basis. Playing mostly road games, he averaged 20 wins a season in his first three years with the Canadiens, losing just 36 over that span.
Manery will fulfill multiple roles on the Thunder Bay Twins, and is expected to be one of the leaders on our blueline.
From Legends of Hockey:
His first real break came when the expansion Atlanta Flames secured his rights in 1972. The fledgling Flames could use all of the defensive help they could get which afforded Manery his first chance to show the Wings what they'd been missing.
Over the five seasons that followed, he established himself as one of his team's most consistent defenders. Although not a hitter, he earned his marks as a cool customer who could skate well, move the puck with ease, shoot well from the point, and perform effectively under pressure.
He might well have remained a Flame throughout his career. But by 1977, the club was increasingly strapped for cash. To cut corners, the team traded Manery and his salary to the Los Angeles Kings.
During his first two seasons on the West Coast, he was consistently his team's best all-around defender. He was usually teamed with resident brawler Dave Hutchison who was known to spiral out of control. Manery brought a steadying influence that helped keep the duo more focused.
Much thanks to SeventiesLord's previous bio:
Originally Posted by seventieslord
Now, as for the underappreciated, far-from-nobody Randy Manery:
- Averaged 23.63 minutes per game in his 583-game career
- Placed 1st, 1st, 1st, 4th, 4th, 2nd, 2nd, 6th among his teams' defense corps in his 8 full seasons
- Career adjusted +59 (you might find this in an offensive specialist with sheltered minutes this late in the draft, but rarely in a guy who spent 5 seasons as a top-pairing guy)
- One of the most-used special teams defensemen in the AA draft: 51% on the PP, 39% on the PK
- 11th, 15th, 16th in defense scoring
- 3rd, 17th, 19th, 22nd among NHL defense TOI in his 4 best seasons
- In these 4 seasons, there were just 11 instances of an undrafted defenseman having more TOI (out of 57 instances)
- 256 points in 582 games
- 20th in points by defensemen during his 8 full seasons, only undrafted ahead is a whopping minus, only one other undrafted in the top-30
- Played in NHL All-Star Game (1973)
Originally Posted by Fischler's Hockey Encyclopedia
For some strange reason, the Wings failed to protect him, and the Flames plucked him onto their blueline. Manery is their top offensive defenseman, plays the point on the PP, and yet many consier him to be the best defensively-oriented member of the team.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1974
Detroit Red Wings must regret losing him in expansion draft... was Flames' most dependable defenseman last season and was selected to play in the all-star game... a defensive defenseman in the mold of Rod Seiling who seldom takes foolish penalties or is caught out of position... quick, mobile skater.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1975
One of the talented young players Atlanta is building their club around... very steady type who carries the puck well... much admired by Philadelphia coach Fred Shero, who saw him regularly in the central league...
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1976
a conservative type... in demand as an after-dinner speaker in the Atlanta area... a fast learner.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1978
Top scorer among Flames defensemen for the 3rd time... One of the most fundamentally sound blueliners in hockey...
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1979
LA's most consistent defenseman last season... was unhappy at being dealt away but made a quick adjustment... not as aggressive as other LA defensemen... a good skater and stickhandler, he's adept at carrying the puck and passing... possesses a strong shot from the point...
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1980
Not a hitter, but provides steady, intelligent play in his own zone and smooth puckhandling for an otherwise erratic blueline corps... after five seasons with Atlanta, Kings stole him in a trade...
Originally Posted by LA Times, November 15, 1978
Randy Manery, probably the steadiest performer on the blue line this season
2x Soviet League Champion
2x Olympic Gold Medalist
27 goals in 71 career National Team games(.3803 goals/game)
185 goals in 315 career Soviet League games(.5873 goals/game)
Soviet Hockey Hall of Fame Member
Evgeny Zimin was one of the most talented and promising Soviet forwards. At 21, he won the Olympics. At 22, he captured his second USSR gold with the Spartak Moscow that managed to challenge mighty CSKA powerhouse in the 1960's. Zimin didn't have an impressive size, but he established himself as a fast skater, slick puck carrier and a sound scorer. By 1972, he was a 2-time Olympic champion and one of the top guns of Team USSR. He is an author of the first goal scored by Team USSR in the Summit. Unfortunately, his career in the top level hockey wasn't long. Drafted to the Soviet Army, Zimin never played for the CSKA, the biggest rival of his Spartak.
One would wonder if the series would have been different had Evgeny Zimin played all 8 games. He left after 2 games, due to
an injury Zimin scored two big goals in game number one, and was part of the powerful Soviet powerplay.
Zimin scored perhaps the most important Soviet goal of the entire series. It was also the first goal of the series for the Russians.
With Canada already leading 2-0 in game one, it was Zimin who put an end to the Canadian's early momentum, scoring at the 11:40 mark.
"The first goal scored by Yevgeny Zimin, inspired the Soviet players," said Igor Kuperman. "It proved to them that they could score against the best NHL professionals. After his goal they scored again and again. The smallest player on the team had scored the biggest goal.".
Yevgeny Zimin was a fine player who possessed explosive speed. His performance in the 1972 Summit Series instantly compared him to Canada's "Roadrunner" - Yvan Cournoyer, or to a later superstar - Guy Lafleur. Old time Russian fans would favourably compare Zimin to Alexander Almetov. Russian fans knew he had the ability to wow onlookers like precious few hockey players can.
Zimin was an individualist, which in Soviet hockey was frowned upon. Correct that - in Anatoli Tarasov's hockey it was frowned upon. But under Vsevolod Bobrov's guidance a solo artist of such high skill as Zimin could thrive. Bobrov would coach Zimin though much of his club career with Spartak, and also briefly on the national team, including the 1972 Summit Series.
The Montrealers were particularly enamoured by the line of Alexander Yakushev, Evgeny Zimin, and Vladimir Shadrin, who would crisscross through the dizzy Canadians with blazing speed, notching two goals as they went.
1x WHA 2nd Team All Star
9th in goals in WHA, 75-76
5x 100PIM(4 in WHA, 1 in NHL)
31st in goals in NHL(74-75)
34th in points in NHL(74-75)
Rick Dudley played with grit, tenacity and determination and it was because of these qualities that he managed to fight his way to the NHL, both literally and figuratively.
Not being drafted after playing his final year with the St. Catharines Blackhawks of the Ontario Hockey League, Dudley set out for the minor leagues. In 1969-70, he joined the Iowa Stars. The following year he split his time between the Flint Generals of the IHL and the Cleveland Barons of the AHL. Unfortunately for Dudley, he was not drawing a whole lot of attention to his game because he managed just two goals in 31 games.
In 1971-72, Dudley clearly decided it was time to re-invent his image. He figured the best way to do that was to rough it up a bit. Dudley racked up 272 minutes in penalties in just 51 games, a stark contrast to the 32 minutes he served the previous year in Cleveland. The move seemed to work. He felt he garnered him a newfound respect and he also noticed he had more room to move around in front of the opposing team's net. That resulted in a 29-point season. But the real effects of Dudley's new nasty persona really took shape in 1972-73 when his production skyrocketed. He had 40 goals and 44 assists for 84 points while still managing to spend a somewhat toned down 159 minutes in the penalty box during his 64 games in the lineup. Dudley's play certainly caught the attention of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, who were in need of a player like Dudley. He was called up an played six games for them, picking up one assist.
For the 1973-74 season Dudley earned himself a regular spot on the Sabres' roster, starting 67 games. He had 13 goals and 13 assists while restraining himself to just 71 minutes in the box. The following year, he was a member of the Sabres team that advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. He was a major contributor to the team's offensive output that year, scoring 31 goals and 39 assists for 70 points in 78 games. He was also back to his truculent style of play, spending 116 minutes in the penalty box. Dudley, along with virtual every other Sabres player from that team, believes to this day they had the best team but were simply unable to solve Philadelphia's star goaltender, Bernie Parent.
Dudley's stock was never higher following that season, and he decided the best way to cash in from a financial point of view was to jump to the WHA, a league that was spending all kinds of money in an attempt to compete with the NHL. Dudley played the next four years with the rival league's Cincinnati Stingers. In his first two years he topped the 40-goal plateau and reached 30 in the third season.
With the impending demise of the Stingers, and the entire WHA to follow, Dudley rejoined the NHL and the Buffalo Sabres late in the 1978-79 season. He lasted about a year-and-a-half in his second go-around with the club before being sent to the Winnipeg Jets during the 1980-81 season.
For a player never drafted, Dudley carved out an extremely successful professional career for himself.
Rick, a natural athlete who didn't start playing ice hockey until his late teen years, was a later bloomer who had to overcome a serious leg injury early in his career. The Sabres took a chance on the youngster in 1971, and let him recover and develop with their American Hockey League farm team, which was ironically located in Cincinnati. By 1972-73 Rick had not only fully recovered from the injury, but emerged as a top player in the AHL. He scored 40 goals and 84 points, and was well known for his pugnacious style of play.
Rick made the jump to the National Hockey League in 1973-74, where he was spotted through a rookie season which featured 13 goals and 26 points by the left winger. However in his second NHL season Rick emerged as a fan favorite and real key to the Sabres success. With his vigorous skating and energetic checking, it was easy to like the hard working Rick. He added a level of abrasiveness which gave the Sabres a bit of an edge which perhaps they lacked previously on their forward units. He played with great passion, and it rubbed off infectively on his teammates. Rick, a former professional lacrosse star once described as "the world's best lacrosse player, also emerged as a scoring sensation that season, picking up 31 tallies, 27 of which were at even strength. His 70 points was good enough to place him 5th on the Sabres scoring chart.
The Sabres made a great run in the 1975 playoffs, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. The Sabres, one of hockey's top teams by this point, ousted the Chicago Black Hawks in the first round before pulling an upset victory over the powerful Montreal Canadiens in round 2, setting up a Stanley Cup final between the Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Sabres were impressive on home ice but couldn't win in Philadelphia, and ultimately were shutdown by the great goaltending of Bernie Parent. Dudley was only able to play in 10 of the 17 Sabres games due to injury. One has to wonder if Rick had been perfectly healthy if his exuberance perhaps could have created some timely scoring chances.
Even though the Sabres lost to the Flyers in 6 games, fans of the Sabres were excited about their team. The French Connection - a line consisting of Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert and Richard Martin - were a top line in the league, while the checking line of Craig Ramsey, Don Luce and Danny Gare were also tremendously effective, while the defense corps was big and mean. Dudley's emergence as a new hero excited fans even more.
Fans were disappointed to learn that Rick would not return to the Sabres in 1976-77 to chase that Stanley Cup. Rick instead signed a large contract with the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA. Rick, who was already a fan favorite from his minor league days in the city, would be a top player for the Stingers for 3 and 1/2 seasons, twice scoring 40-plus goals and 80-plus points while delivering his aggressive style of take no prisoners play. The Sabres meantime remained as a top NHL team in the regular season, but never could find the magic once again in the playoffs. Perhaps Dudley's energy and enthusiasm could have helped in that regard.
The Stingers, like the rest of the WHA, fell into financial trouble by 1978-79 and were looking to dump Rick's contract. The Sabres re-acquired Rick by agreeing to take over the remainder of the contract. Sabres fans were excited to have one of their favorites back in the lineup.
Rick, who was a health food nut and operated a natural foods store in Cincinnati, returned and played the same style that he always did, although his penalty minutes would be down significantly as he matured as a player. But his offense which had been a big part of his game in the previous half-decade had dried up at the same time. He scored just 5 goals and 11 points in 24 games upon returning to the Sabres for the remainder of 1978-79 season.
For the sixth game, we had two regulars injured - Rick Dudley and Don Luce. Not only their scoring ability was out (Luce thirty three goals, Dudley thirty one) but they were tough checkers, none better.
People called our third line the Kamikaze kids - Lorentz, Rick Dudley, and Brian Spencer - not scoring a lot but creating mayhem with their forechecking.
The reason I don't blame Dudley is simply because he played a tremendous hockey season for me. He never played as well again. Moving to the WHA was a bad move for him. He should have stayed right here where he was and I'm certain he would have been a star in the National Hockey League.