Not even the incomparable Gordie Howe made as impressive a debut in big league hockey as Alex Delvecchio did. He cracked the Detroit lineup in his very first professional season and got 15 goals. Seventeen years later and Delvecchio now has 350 goals. His strong point: versatility.
Much of his career has been spent as Gordie Howe’s playmaking centre. He’s been a standout on the left wing, and he’s regarded as an excellent prospect for defense if it ever develops that he’s not fast enough for the attack. Though he is only 36, he is gray, in keeping with his quiet personality.
-Jim Proudfoot, Summer 1968
I love reading old writing for a lot of reasons. The style 40 years ago was much different than it is today, and there are some things in those words that are downright strange. For instance, what on earth does being gray at 36 have to do with having a quiet personality? Also, is it just me or do people spell it grey more often now for all purposes than they did many years ago?
Finally, it’s very rare to speculate about moving a forward to defense in the heart of a Hall of Fame Career. Fedorov is the only recent example I can think of, and had someone like Mark Messier really wanted to hold on for too long that might have been an option.
Delvecchio played forever, in fact he was an NHL regular for a full 5 seasons after he took his 1968 summer holiday. He ended with 456 goals, 3 Stanley’s and 3 Lady Byng’s.
Delvecchio was not as respected during his career as was warranted, mostly because he played in the shadow of the great Gordie Howe. Norm Ullman was more skilled and he got lots of headlines, and of course the Red Wings developed the two great goalies of Delvecchio’s generation (Sawchuk and Hall) not named Plante so he was way down the list before turning grey. In this way (and he won’t score 456 goals) Shawn Horcoff would be a modern day comp: a quality player and a leader, and a player the fans perhaps overlook.
Shawn Horcoff is unlikely to play today. It’ll be interesting to see if his value to the team is reflected in the score.