Aren’t these beauty uniforms? Butch Goring and Marcel Dionne were two of the best Los Angeles Kings before 99 arrived on the scene (other candidates for the crown would have been Rogatien Vachon, Charlie Simmer, Dave Taylor, Bernie Nicholls) and it’s interesting to see how time has judged each of their talents.
Goring was an undersized two-way center who was pretty famous even before the trade to the Islanders that put that team over the top. He won two major end-of-season awards (Masterton, Byng) and he was very consistent (scored 20 or more goals 10 years in a row 71-81) despite not having LA’s top wingers at any time after 1975. He became the first King to score 4 goals in a game on March 1, 1975.
Goring was an outstanding penalty killer. He won the Conn Smythe in spring 1981, scored a hat trick in G3 of SCF that year, added two more in G5, six goals for the series. When he gets mentioned these days it’s usually in regard to the “helmet” (which he got when he was 11 and wore for his entire career, including at least two dreadful paint jobs).
There is an Edmonton connection. He signed 25-game tryout contract with Edmonton after being fired as Boston’s coach in November 1986. He was sent to Nova Scotia (AHL) and never played for the Oilers who were a little deep at center at that time.
I bring up the name Butch Goring today because guys like him always get overlooked imo. After doing the top 36 list below, I noticed the the excellent blog The Puck Stops Here (I can’t get the link to work, sorry. You can link off MC’s site) did their own list in response to Joe Pelletier’s request. Among those on Puck’s list is Marcel Dionne, the wonderful offensive center for the LA Kings.
It brings me to a question about the “top 36″ and by extension the HHOF: By how much do we underestimate the contributions of the Butch Goring’s? the Ralph Backstrom’s? the Don Marcotte’s?
Too much by plenty, I’d guess.
It’s impossible to correctly identify what getting Butch Goring meant to the other centers on the Islanders, except to say they were a damn good group who took flight when he arrived. It’s impossible to assess the value of Ralph Backstrom when putting Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard on a list of the top 36 players of all time, but we can agree that he helped.
From the book Ultimate Hockey (about Backstrom): he was Selke’s, and later Pollock’s, idea of the perfect player. Although he had the tools to be a first line star and elite scorer, the selfless pivot put the team first and accepted his checking role.