This is Valmore James. Val. He was born in Ocala, Florida on Valentine’s Day 1957. He is one of very few Florida born men to have played in the NHL. I count James, Dallas Eakins and Dan Hinote as well, but that kid Blake Geoffrion will probably move the chains.
James grew up on Long Island, and skated miles at the arena in Commack where his father worked. He was drafted 184th in 1977 (Red Wings) after a pretty long junior career (he played in the New York Junior League). One of the players who was in that league at the same time was Nick Fotiu. Fotiu is 5 years older than James, meaning when Fotiu played in that league at age 18 James would have been 13.
My information has James playing for the Long Island Ducklings in 70-71, the same season Fotiu played for the New Hyde Park Arrows. Incredibly, another NHL player, Richie Hansen, was playing for the Brooklyn Metro’s in the same season. The next season, 71-72, a kid named Joey Mullen played in the same league for the “New York 14th Precint”. I wonder if they were called the Serpico’s?
Tonight the Oilers are in TBay to play the Lightning. Their top line is approaching levels not seen since the Moose Jaw Warrior left town last spring. MacT seems to be rolling an old school checking line with the veterans up front (Moreau, Pisani, sometimes Reasoner) in vital in-game situations and the Kid Line has been on something of a romp that would have to be considered their collective high water mark despite the pretty goals, blazing speed and shootout expertise. That leaves Jarret Stoll to play with the other two forwards any given night.
In terms of matchup, it has for the most part looked to me like the opposition has tried to match against the Hemsky line and then after that just (in the words of the great C. W. McCall) “let them truckers roll.” The kids beat up Atlanta’s top line the other day according to the shift collector, but I’m probably reading it wrong.
The Oilers are a fairly predictable lot lately. If all goes according to plan they’ll play 40 good minutes and spend the other 20 looking like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Once again the outcome relies heavily on the opponent: The Lightning should win this game.