This is Jim McKenny. He was pretty popular with the females about 35 years ago, even got a part in a movie called FACE OFF (which starred Trudy Young who I had a crush on btw) and he was one of a myriad of young Toronto Maple Leafs defenders who struggled before finally emerging perhaps 4 years after they began to arrive.
The names? Well, lordy. Let me quote Punch Imlach, from HOCKEY IS A BATTLE: I moved in a lot of guys, especially on defence. I knew I was going to give Mike Pelyk a lot of work, Jim Dorey was a real tough egg from Tulsa and he was going to get a shot at it. Another tough guy was Pat Quinn, and a real surprise in camp was Rickey Ley, a junior from Niagra Falls with no pro experience. So we had all those guys, plus Tim Horton, Marcel Pronovost and Pierre Pilote.
I knew that with all these young guys there were going to be mistakes. They were going to cost us goals. But I was going to have a team that would try and would play entertaining hockey. I knew we would be life and death to make the playoffs…..
They did make the playoffs, lost in Round 1 to Boston by scores of 10-0 and 7-0 before making it more respectable at home with losses of 4-3 and 3-2.
Back then, I liked Jim Dorey because he fought (and won) and he was really nasty. I also liked McKenny because he had some offense, and didn’t like Mike Pelyk because they kept talking about how great he was in junior.
By the time the Leafs made it into the second round of the playoffs, most of the kids listed above had been replaced. Jim McKenny was still on the team, but the leader on D was young Borje Salming from Sweden. Brian Glennie had survived, and there was a veteran from a trade (Rod Seiling), a bizarre success story (Claire Alexander, don’t ask) and a couple of pretty good kids in Bob Neely and Ian Turnbull.
I’ve missed a few names here and there, guys like Brad Selwood and John Grisdale. Suffice to say that between 1969 and 1974 you could turn on the Maple Leafs on HNIC at any point and there was a new, pretty good defenseman learning on the job.
Looking back, I enjoyed watching Trudy Young more.
What is the ratio for young/veteran defensemen that works for an NHL team? The Oilers currently employ Denis Grebeshkov, Mathieu Roy, Ladislav Smid, Matt Greene and Tom Gilbert among their top 7 defenders. Steve Staios, Joni Pitkanen (injured), Sheldon Souray (injured) and Dick Tarnstrom are the veterans.
And while we’re at it, let’s just say right here that by the time this young blueline plays games deep into spring for the town team we’ll be adding names like Taylor Chorney and Jeff Petry to the list, while flushing a few from the current group. The problem is we don’t really know who is going to be an actual player, he hasn’t appeared to us yet. If I had to guess, Smid and Greene would be the two choices but listening to MacT lately you’d think Grebeshkov is a key man.
Jim McKenny played more games for the Leafs than pretty much any of the others and he wasn’t close to the best. A guy like Jim Dorey lost a ton of his career to injury, and then he and guys like Rick Ley spent so much time in the WHA their career stats don’t look overly impressive.
These guys could play. However, Toronto didn’t have enough veteran help back there to guide them while remaining successful. I believe that’s the lesson here.