Since we’re getting close to training camp and all the fun things (I’ll be attending day 2 of scrimmages with my friend Louise and the Joey Moss Cup with my kids, plus maybe a couple of pre-season tilts) I thought we could look back one more time before looking ahead to a busy month (September).
Here is the training camp invite list for the 1975-76 WHA Edmonton Oilers. This team would finish 12th in a 14-team league and give up around 80 goals more than they scored, but lordy there were some interesting stories.
Here’s the roster:
- Dave Dryden: He would play in 62 of the team’s games in 75-76 and sport a SP of .878 (which would rank him 14th among regulars). His best season was the final WHA season (78-79) in which he was the league’s top goalie and the most valuable player. The MVP award for the WHA was the “Gary L. Davidson/Gordie Howe” trophy. Seriously.
- Chris Worthy: A pretty famous junior who never did get on track in pro hockey, his story is detailed here. Died in Vancouver, B.C., August 2, 2007.
- Frank Turnbull: Small goalie who had a cup of coffee with the Oilers and then played for Spokane’s Flyers in the WIHL and an Allan Cup team that season. In fact, Spokane won the Allan Cup the following season with Turnbull a member of the team.
- Jacques Plante: By this time Jake the Snake was 46 years old and had played major league hockey and counted among his teammates Rocket Richard, Bobby Orr, Elmer Lach, Darryl Sittler, Glenn Hall, Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Esposito. To give you an idea about how long the man played, Jacques Plante played in games with Herb Foster (born 1913) and Mike Rogers (born 1954). That’s an era, folks. He did not play with the Oilers in 75-76 but was very effective as an Oiler goalie in the previous season (3.32, .890).
- Barry Long: I remember him so well as a Los Angeles King. They only played a few times on television but Long stood out because he was a good young player who came up to the big leagues as a King and that rarely happened in those day. The Kings routinely traded their top picks. I honestly don’t remember a Los Angeles 1st round pick from my childhood. At all. Anyway, Long was a pretty good defender although he had a poor year in 75-76. He was -49 on this edition of the Oilers (who were -70 at EVs for the season), but was +25 on the 73-74 Kings (who were +12 as a team that year).
- Allan Hamilton: There was a time when the New York Rangers were trying to decide between Al Hamilton and Brad Park as the defender who they’d work in with the veterans (this was late 1960s, maybe 1968). Hamilton was a huge part of this team and I can tell you that for people like me it was this man who gave the WHA credibility in our area when he signed. This was an actual NHL player and a good one.
- Doug Barrie: He’s listed on the training camp roster as a LW but that must have been a misprint (if you saw the Oilers at that time please confirm they played him at D). Either way he was an undersized puck mover who once pissed Punch Imlach off so badly (either at a practice or an airport depending upon the story you believe) he was traded the next day. Apparently enjoyed beer so he’s always been a favorite of mine.
- Ted McAneeley: A lot of these men were teammates on the old Edmonton Oil Kings teams that routinely went to the Memorial Cup every spring. Among the 67-68 Oil Kings we’ll find on this roster are McAneeley and his brother Bob, Kerry Ketter and a guy named Rick LaLacheur. Stan Weir said of Ted McAneeley “a small guy with a big heart. He worked his butt off.” Morris Mott said “he was a good passer and a gritty little defenseman.” He may have been better suited to the modern game.
- Kerry Ketter: Another Oil King, he was a tough as nails stay-at-home type. Ketter played on one of the all-time best minor league teams, the ’71-72 Nova Scotia Voyageurs.
- Steve Carlyle: He was an AJHL All-Star and then played for the Golden Bears at the U of A and also played for the Canadian National Team for a time. Montreal drafted him fairly high (31st overall) in 1970 but the only major league hockey he ever played was WHA for the Oilers. He was in fact traded later on in the 1975-76 season (with Kerry Ketter) but chose to retire instead of reporting to the Whalers.
- Murray Kennett: I don’t have much on him, except he was a western boy (almost all of these guys were from Western Canada) and was traded to the Oilers for a stringbean center (Ron Buchanan).
- Bob Barnes: Although he was drafted by Toronto in 1975, Barnes attended Oilers camp. He didn’t make the Oilers (all names above Barnes played at least a portion of the season with them, all below him did not play for the 75-76 Oilers) and soon found himself in Finland, Denmark and Switzerland as a player. Later still he coached everywhere, but suffered a very severe knee injury that forced him to give up coaching for a long time. The last item I’ve seen on him is as Coaching Director for Newcastle North Stars in the AIHL (Australian Ice Hockey League) and that was 2005.
- Gary Braun: He played in the Memorial Cup for Estevan in the spring of 1968 and then turned pro in 1969. Played a ton in the IHL (Flint, Toledo, Saginaw) and from what I can find didn’t play any hockey at all after attending the 1975-76 Oilers TC until the 1978-79 season. He coached in the WHL off and on in the 1980s and 1990s and I don’t have anything on him after Asst. Coach, Spokane Chiefs 1989-1993.
- Jim Damberger: I know he played college hockey for Princeton and he went by Jamie Damberger. That’s all I have.
- Don Dirk: Born in Empress, Alberta he is one of a few players associated with the WHA Oilers who found a home in Spokane with the Flyers and won an Allan Cup in the mid-70s. Hockeydb has him playing a portion of 1970-71 with the Vernon Esso’s of the BCJHL but he also played 10 games for the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) that same season.
- Len Ircanida: Nothing. Zippo. Nada. I think the name might be spelled incorrectly.
- John Van Horlick: He played 2 WHA games (Toronto Toros) where he skated on the same ice as Frank Mahovlich. He also played 94 AHL games in the early 1970s at a time when that league lost a bunch of players to the WHA (1972 to 1975-ish when the WHA began to raid Europe).
Okay, hope you enjoyed this and I’ll do the same thing with the forwards in the next few days