G17 Oilers at Blackhawks

Time cannot erase the memories. In the early to mid-70s, fighting against the Habs, Bruins, and Rangers, a group of nice boys and nasty men represented the second city. Two pennants (’71, ’73) and a long list of greats worthy of the Hall, and really the first team to recognize the extreme value of the US college player in numbers.

Keith Magnuson was from Saskatoon. He’d played for the Blades before going to the University of Denver after graduating high school. Denver (NCAA) became a great resource for the Hawks, and this was years before college kids started getting drafted in numbers.

This is Cliff Koroll, same thing. U Denver. Kid from Canora, Saskatchewan who played college hockey and then graduated to the NHL via the Blackhawks. Not drafted, Koroll would have a quality career with Chicago as a fine 2-way winger.

I apologize for the quality of this photo, but it was the only one of Gerry Pinder I could find during his days with the Hawks. Pinder and his brother Herb were legendary Saskatoon Blades and Pinder played for the Canada at the 1968 Olympics. Turned pro with Chicago and had three solid NHL seasons before jumping to the WHA.

Looking back, it might seem as though the ’71 and ’73 teams were about Mikita, Hull, Tony Esposito, Pit Martin, Bill White and Pat Stapleton and that’s certainly true. However, Chicago found a way to increase the talent pool via NCAA hockey players and were very effective at it. The 67-68 Denver Pioneers alone sent them Keith Magnuson, Cliff Koroll and Jim Wiste (shown below in a 1972 Rochester Americans uniform).

Today, Chicago’s leader is Jonathan Toews. Kid from Winnipeg, played college hockey at UND and then found his way to Chicago. Today’s lineup may boast college men like Toews, Duncan Keith, Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp. It’s a fine tradition.

I don’t have much to say about the Oilers. I could say if they win today it’ll be a .500 roadtrip but the things learned on this trip are far more valuable than the wins or losses:

  • The Kid Line isn’t getting it done. Reading Dennis King’s scoring chances, I have Taylor Hall’s time on ice at evens good for 12-19 in scoring chances. 5-17 in the last three games of the road trip. The soft parade can be put to better use, I’d say. Expect the lines to get an overhaul next week in practice.
  • Theo Peckham has taken a giant leap backwards. It may cost him his NHL job.
  • Cam Barker is who we thought he was.
  • The PK is off the rails.
  • The fourth line is on life support.
  • Sam Gagner is finding his form but the chem on that line has nothing bubbling in the lab.

I’m hoping they can bring home a point today, but that’s just a fan’s wish. In the words of David Bowe, this is ourselves, under pressure. Kids learn, but watching it can be painful.

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