This is Don Ashby. His nickname was “Ants.” Ashby was a high pick (#6 overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1976. This was at a time of extreme transition in the Leafs organization so Ashby moved up the depth chart and became a starter before he was ready to carry a big load.
It did not go well. Toronto (an organization that would make some questionable moves during this time, like drafting Doug Jarvis and trading him the same summer. Who does that?) seemed to be bringing in kids six at a time every month or so during these years and Ashby became so frustrated with the Leafs he quit for a time.
Eventually he was sent away to Colorado to play for the Rockies. On February 25, 1980 he was traded to Edmonton for a very unhappy Bobby Schmautz and played well for the Oilers, scoring 10 times in 18 games.
In 80-81 he played some with the big club but spent most of the season in the minors (Wichita Wind). The club had a wonderful playoff, taking Salt Lake City to 7-games despite being overmatched.
Driving home from that playoff series, Don Ashby was struck head-on and died from internal injuries on May 30, 1981.
The Edmonton Oilers are in tough again tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. Those two teams and Minnesota have games-in-hand on the suddenly struggling Vancouver Canucks and a win tonight for Edmonton would erase the frustration of bleeding out one drop at a time against the demons in Minnesota. I will go ahead and predict that Ryan Smyth kicks ass in this game. He’s hot (6 points in his last 3 games) and the Avs seem to be putting things together a little bit (despite their loss last night).
The Oilers can still cover the bet (alone in 8th at the break) but winning tonight is vital. History tells us the Oilers will get out of Denver with fewer than 2 points tonight. They won in Washington for the first time since the Nixon administration and lost to Minnesota to keep that tradition alive.
Can they win a NW road game in January? You know the answer.