This is Peter Mahovlich. During his NHL career he was an odd duck. In the 1966-67 season the Detroit Red Wings wanted to send him down but he couldn’t go to the AHL without being exposed to waivers. In one of many ridiculous rule changes for “need” over the years, the NHL simply (with approval from Toronto who also needed to option out a player) changed the rule to state that Mahovlich could not return for that season or he would be exposed to waivers.
Always fun to play a game where you can change the rules at will. The NHL still does this all the time. It’s Mickey Mouse.
Mahovlich as a player took quite some time to develop. His first season pro saw a lot of time on the bench in Detroit (34 games, 1 goal before being sent down in the “historic” transaction mentioned above) but he scored 20 in 42 games in the minors at age 21 to give some indication about his future. Called up during that season, Mahovlich scored 6-4-10 in 15 games.
Detroit sent him down one more time at age 22 (68-69) and he was traded to Montreal with Bart Crashley for Garry Monahan and Doug Piper – June 6, 1969.
In my youth watching the Montreal Canadiens procure talent was an awesome yet terrible thing, like a Regina thunderstorm in summer or a photo of Geddy Lee. They always had 10 draft picks in the top 30 and because of it almost all of their talent was homegrown. Their are 20 names that appear for the Habs 75-76 Stanley Cup team and 19 of them played in the Montreal system before NHL arrival.
The one exception was Peter Mahovlich. He was a big man, the biggest actual player in the NHL during his career (Phil Esposito was big, but was 4 inches shorter than Mahovlich) but he had all kinds of skills associated with smaller players. Peter Mahovlich could pass the puck very well, stick handle through traffic, skated pretty well and developed a patented move where he split the D and managed to get a (very good) shot on goal. This move combined tremendous reach, brute strength and dogged determination. It did not involve surprise (which I’ve read from time to time when discussions of this particular move come up) since he did it fairly often and was known during his career for being effective with it.
I’m a big fan of comps. Comparables. It is a really good way to find the “outer marker” for a specific player. Among the comps we’ve talked about on this blog over the years are Ales Hemsky (Rick Middleton), Rob Schremp (Ron Chipperfield and Robert Nilsson), Sam Gagner (I prefer Vincent Damphousse but others have suggested Doug Gilmour), JF Jacques (Mike Bloom), Andrew Cogliano (Butch Goring), Kyle Brodziak (Jarret Stoll), Riley Nash (Chris Higgins), Marc Pouliot (Jarret Stoll).
I have (twice) discussed comps for Dustin Penner. They are here and here. In the Matheson post I said “we should be thinking in terms of a Pete Mahovlich “one in several hundred” comp as opposed to a clear connection between Bertuzzi, LeClair and Dustin Penner. “
I think that’s exactly right. Because he didn’t come up through the usual channels we had a hard time marking him early and because he put up numbers upon NHL arrival (at an older age) there aren’t too many obvioius comps there either. He took a different route and it makes comparing him troublesome.
Here are the numbers for each player at the end of their 25-year old seasons:
- Dustin Penner 183gp, 56-43-99 .541ppg
- Pete Mahovlich 274gp, 88-76-164 .599ppg
Mahovlich is superior in each category but we need to factor in the quality of team, etc. It seems to me that describing Dustin Penner as “Mahovlich-lite” is just about the best comparison available to us at this time.