Rookie Class of 1972 (HHOF)

Oh my God Larry Robinson was a load. My first memory of Big Bird is a 2-on-1 in the postseason. Robinson is carrying the puck and Frank Mahovlich is with him. The Big M. The Big FREAKING M. Over the blueline, the kid wound up and drilled it; seconds later the puck found twine. I was shocked. A rookie, and a defenseman no less? Pass the puck to the 500-goal man.

In the postgame, Dick Irvin asked him if he thought of passing. “No.” Why not? “Frank hollered shoot!”

There are 5 posts that served as the beginning of this look, and they are here. This continues the series, and for those who waited almost 4 years thanks for your patience.

Steve Vickers won the Calder in 1973

1972-73

    • TOTAL ROOKIES OF INTEREST: 88
    • WHY SO MANY: Two new NHL teams plus WHA doubled rookie crop
    • BEST PLAYER AS A ROOKIE: Steve Vickers and Bill Barber had very similar seasons, with Vickers getting the nod from voters. Neither of them looked to be the player Rick Martin (from 71-72) appeared to be at the time.
    • OLDEST ROOKIE: Connie Madigan was 38 when he made the NHL for the first time. He played well for the St. Louis Blues and continued his minor league career in the following seasons. He is perhaps best known for a small part in the classic film SLAP SHOT!
    • OLDEST ROOKIE TO PLAY A LOT: Goalie Wayne Stephenson was 28 years old when he landed in the NHL (also with St. Louis). Stephenson tended goal in 45 games in 72-73 and boasted a solid 3.03 GAA. He had an .898SP. Stephenson was famous in Canada previous to his NHL debut due to his status with the Canadian National Team. He was part of the 1968 Olympic team and the nation’s World Championship entry in 1967 and 1969. Stephenson was on the Edmonton Oil Kings Memorial Cup entry in 1965.
    • ANY MORE OLD ROOKIES: Sure, there were 88 guys who made their big league debut in 72-73. Ross Brooks–another goalie–was 35 years old when he landed a job with the Bruins. A career minor leaguer, he took advantage of some terrible asset management in Boston over the summer of 1972.
    • MOST UNUSUAL STORY: Morris Mott came to pro hockey the same way as Stephenson and had expected to play minor league hockey in the AHL or old time WHL. However, Oakland had been raided so badly by the WHA that Mott won a job outright in the NHL. Henry Boucha was a legendary high school player (Warroad in Minnesota) and well known for his ability to play most of the game without rest. Boucha was  a pretty good young player but his career path was impacted greatly by a terrible stick swinging incident with Boston Bruin Dave Forbes. Stan Weir enjoyed a strong career before emerging as hockey’s answer to Chuck Norris. Steve Durbano was a tough guy, I mean incredibly tough on and off the ice. He lived hard and died early and found peace only a few years before he passed. Chuck and Bryan Lefley were rookies the same year.
    • ANYTHING ELSE? The NHL was finally getting good draft picks and rookies through to the expansion teams. Boston still got Gregg  Sheppard and Terry O’Reilly, Montreal still got Larry Robinson and Steve Shutt, but Philly got Bill Barber and most of the newer teams had some good players make their NHL debut.
    • ANYTHING ELSE ELSE? Both expansion teams plucked outstanding goaltenders in the summer expansion draft. NY Islanders grabbed Billy Smith and Atlanta chose Daniel Bouchard at the same time. It would have immediate impact on the NHL, as Boston–the defending champs–spent the winter trying to find goaltending after losing Bouchard in the draft.

  • Longest NHL careers: Larry Robinson (1384), Don Lever (1020), Phil Russell (1016), Steve Shutt (930), Bill Barber (903)
  • Most Seasons of High Quality: Larry Robinson was a freak, but Steve Shutt, Billy Barber, Daniel Bouchard and Billy Smith should also be included in this category.
  • Most Seasons of Above Average Play: Don Lever, Phil Russell, Billy Harris, Terry O’Reilly
  • Peak Value: Larry Robinson is an inner circle HOFer. Two Norris trophies in an era where giants played defense, 1 Smythe trophy and six end of season all-star appearances (3 first all-star honors). Durable, across the board talent and was lethal despite never taking close to 100 PIMs in a single season. Steve Shutt made 3 all-star teams (season ending variety) and once set a record for goals by a LW the same season he led the league in that category (60). Shutt was also a solid 2-way player and his 424 goals in 930 games is an impressive total, owing mostly to a tremendous shot. Bill Barber was also an impressive LW whose career ran alongside Shutt. He was perhaps less famous than Shutt as a 2-way player but can boast amazing consistency from the beginning to end of his career. Barber did great work shorthanded and he also manned the point very well on the PP. Billy Smith had a decade long run where he posted outstanding numbers for a great team and Daniel Bouchard matched him save for the fact his team was less impressive.

 

WHO BUILT AT LEAST A PORTION OF A HOF CAREER WHILE FALLING SHORT?
  • DON LEVER: First Canuck we’ll talk about in these terms, Lever gets a mention based on longevity and a nice range of skills. I don’t think  he was ever considered a strong contender for a major award and his career best in goals was 38, but he played well for a long time.
  • BOB MACMILLAN: Won the Byng in 1979 and had one enormous season. Adding his NHL seasons to his brief WHA career I think we can cobble together enough evidence to mention him here.
  • PHIL RUSSELL: As with Lever, Russell gets a mention based on consistency over a long period, with special mention for his early Chicago career.
  • STEVE VICKERS: Won the Calder and followed through with some solid seasons but lacked the consistency of the HOF LWers of this era.
  • TERRY O’REILLY: I don’t think he’s well remembered now but O’Reilly was an excellent forward in a lot of areas. Had some impressive offensive seasons and could play a complete game.
  • GREGG SHEPPARD (in photo above facing off against Bobby Clarke): Had he been able to sustain the mid-70s level for a few more seasons I’d put him in without a throw. Sheppard was undersized but worked like a demon. Hell on the forecheck and PK, those first 6 seasons were outasite.

 

FROM THE 72-73 GROUP, WHO BELONGS IN THE HOF?

  • LARRY ROBINSON: Incredible player over a long period of time. Robinson enjoyed the luxury of coming up and playing for an outstanding team but he was contributing in short order and by the time he’d been in the league few seasons emerged as a leader. I think he’s an inner circle HOFer, the best defenseman in the group we’ve looked at 67-72.
  • BILLY SMITH: I can’t imagine keeping him out of the Hall. You could argue that he shared the starting job with Resch during the glory days and didn’t establish himself, but that’s denying the fact that in those years most teams shared the regular season duties. Billy Smith may have pissed off most NHL fans–he was well hated in Edmonton–but by save percentage, by wins, by GAA and anything you can name he makes the Hall easily.
  • BILL BARBER: He had excellent peak value and did play over 900 NHL games (Barber was a mess when he was through but when he played delivered quality). Quick release, lots of PK ability and most of the things held against him (he was a whiner and a cheap shot artist, hurt Orr’s knee) have been long forgotten by everyone but me apparently. Without the knee problem, he would have cleared 500 goals and we might be talking inner circle.
  • STEVE SHUTT: I have to confess to being a fan of Steve Shutt. I’d have him second on this list to be honest, right behind Robinson but have long since realized that he is not viewed by others as I saw him. For me, Shutt was a splendid 2-way winger who could score just inside the blueline with a heavy shot and also had a sixth sense in close. The term “garbage goal” came into my purview because of Shutt and the way he scored goals. He was very good at finding loose pucks but he could also scoot on the backcheck and did a lot of extra work on the Lafleur line because of the Flower’s “rover” mentality. I’ve got Steve Shutt safely in the hall but am prepared to discuss it.

FINAL QUESTION: WHAT ONE PLAYER WOULD YOU ARGUE IS CLOSEST TO BEING IN THE HOF WITHOUT MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS?

  • DANIEL BOUCHARD: I would actually like to put him in my HOF but can’t find a way to make it work. Bouchard was an excellent goalie for a long time, over 10 seasons. He never played for an impact team but in Atlanta and a little later backstopped good to very good teams. Bouchard is long forgotten now but his career stats do not fade badly compared to other goalies of his era. Tough call, I’ll suggest he just misses but could be talked into including him.

Atlanta's Daniel Bouchard

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50 Responses to "Rookie Class of 1972 (HHOF)"

  1. TheOtherJohn says:

    Larry Robinson- superlative. One of the Big 3 …….really just a load. Could do it all and astonishingly might have been Montreal’s best fighter. Could use him on the Oil.

    Also loved Steve Shutt, the least heralded of his junior line and yet, HHOF. Scored more goals from 3 feet than anyone in hockey history and you always asked how was he was left alone. That is a lost skillset.

    There were some very good players in that era and tough!

  2. HeavySig says:

    As a Hab fan growing up (pre-Oiler existence), Robinson and Shutt were a couple of guys that always stood out to me. Robinson was a skill player who could get nasty when he had to, and was one of those guys that nuked people with big hits when the playoffs came around. Playing with Serge Savard beside him didn’t hurt either, apparently he gave Robinson the same advice Huddy gave Coffey; “go for it, I will cover you.”

    (interesting fact I just found on Big Bird, apparently his Brockville coach, Barry Fraser, asked him to switch from forward to defense because they only had two on the team at the time)

    As for Terry O’Reilly, I remember him very well. He was my favourite Bruin of the post-Orr/Esposito mid 70′s era. Not a lot of players posting +200 penalty minutes could rack up 29G, 90 point seasons. He was a frikkin’ beauty. Happy Gilmore’s fave.

  3. Henry says:

    Robinson was a giant to me as a kid. My favorite memory of him was a playoff overtime game in which he blasted a 50 footer through the twine. Ruled no goal. Montreal players go apeshit, Robinson still cool. Habs won later anyway.

    Smith was definitely a HOFer, but quite an ass. Shutt was a bit like Kurri later. Superb player overshadowed by a skating legend on his line and the quality throughout the lineup. He’s in.

    O’Reilly had a great name for Boston, but wasn’t ever close to the best player on the team through two generations of talent.

  4. Justified says:

    Like a comfortable chair in front of the warm fireplace on a cold winters day with a cold one in hand discussing the glory days of one of the greatest eras in hockey. I was a Leaf fan in the Keon & Salming era so the Habs were just a foul taste. However I really liked #19 and wished he would have been a Leaf. Smooth, tough, talented and smart . Here’s hoping that one of the kids develops into a Larry Robinson type. (raises glass with a tear in the eye)

  5. Bos8 says:

    I keep repeating myself but I watched I watched a Robinson interview and he said he only dished out hits to get their attention. Otherwise he would be 5’6″ by the end of the season. My favorite Bird incident is the Messier confrontation mid ice.

    Apropos of nothing
    A friend of mine asked me to come over and work a bit with his baby brother and his buddy on their back yard rink. Who knew that Snotty, in the back yard, would become Mark Messier.

  6. Smarmy says:

    Bouchard has a great signature. Even includes a smiley face.

  7. Bos8 says:

    My favorite from that era was the Montreal kid line. Houle, Tardif and Lafleur. Man, they’d come blasting up the ice, seventeen passes, drive everyone into the ice, goalie’s out in left field and then miss the net by six feet.

    Tardif and Cloutier in the WHA were just to pretty for words. The Edmonton fans used to give them ovations because they were so pretty. Our section did for sure. Mind you, half the fans had “Coach” on their jacket sleeves. The others were snobs who were too good to wear hockey jackets.

  8. D says:

    Billy Smith. What memories! No doubt for me he belongs in the HOF. LT, I wonder how many fans remember how much we hated the Islanders (before winning in 1984). They were the men who had it all figured out, and they were getting in the way of what we wanted. Tim Thomas is a nicer version of Billy Smith.

  9. bookje says:

    Goalies looked more awesome back in the day!

    4- years – man this is like reading a series by George R.R. Martin…

  10. Wolfie says:

    bookje:
    Goalies looked more awesome back in the day!

    4- years – man this is like reading a series by George R.R. Martin…

    Not only that but it took a big nutsack to be a goalie back in the day. I remember as a kid having to wear some players gear under my goalie stuff to keep shots from hurting. Didn’t matter much because every game or practice I came away with a new bruise either on the collarbone, elbow or inside the knee making a kicksave.

    I can’t remember the last time I actually got hurt by a shot(other than in the tenders). You can barely feel the puck with today’s equipment. There’s no fear anymore as a goalie.

  11. bookje says:

    D,

    No doubt – It is hard to describe how much Billy Smith was hated by Oiler fans. It was intense. I barely remember the rest of the team (I was young), but I remember hating Smith. He probably had a one to one ratio of slashes to saves. That guy was mean.

    It retrospect, he was an awesome villain. He played it up big time with the fans as well.

  12. Ducey says:

    Craig Button has shaken up his draft list. The number after the name is where he had them before. It differs quite a bit from the Central scouting list.

    1. Nail Yakupov 1Sarnia (OHL) 10/6/93 RW L 5’11/183 26 21 32 53 21
    2. Mathew Dumba 3Red Deer (WHL) 8/25/94 D R 5’11/175 41 11 15 26 3
    3. Filip Forsberg 2 Leksands (SWE) 9/13/94 LW R 6’1/196 28 5 5 10 1
    4. Morgan Rielly 4 Moose Jaw (WHL) 3/9/94 D L 6’0/198 18 3 15 18 6
    5. Alex Galchenyuk 5 Sarnia (OHL) 2/12/94 C L 6’1/197 0 0 0 0 0
    6. Griffin Reinhart 7 Edmonton (WHL) 1/24/94 D L 6’3/202 34 9 14 23 13
    7. Mikhail Grigorenko 6 Quebec (QMJHL) 10/16/94 C L 6’2/183 36 25 33 58 23
    8. Matt Finn 11 Guelph (OHL) 2/24/94 D L 6’0/197 35 6 23 29 -7
    9. Ryan Murray 10 Everett (WHL) 9/27/93 D L 6’0/199 18 6 6 12 -9
    10. Jacob Trouba 8 US NTDP 2/26/94 D R 6’1/193 26 2 8 10

  13. ashley says:

    I remember that through the twine shot ruled “no goal” in the playoffs as Iafrate. Maybe they both did it?

    Great post LT.

  14. ashley says:

    Or maybe McInnis

    ashley:
    I remember that through the twine shot ruled “no goal” in the playoffs as Iafrate.Maybe they both did it?

    Great post LT.

    Or was it MacInnis?

  15. Henry says:

    Game 4 1979. Some said the puck went in and out, others that it went through. The replay of the era said it went in, but no light, no goal then.

  16. bendelson says:

    Wolfie,

    I’ll have to disagree. Taking a slap shot of any significance in the mask will at a minimum rattle your cage and in today’s world provide a concussion as well. Enough to make one think twice the next time the local slap happy chump decides to let a wild one loose.

    Point taken nevertheless – I recall the intense pain whenever I took a shot off the shoulder – totally exposed due to the insanely inappropriate design of my chest protector circa 1985. Good times!

  17. VOR says:

    I destroyed my left knee having it wrapped around a goal post when my right D and an opp forward slammed into me. Those posts used to be really frozen into the ice. It is so much safer now.

    I loved Steve Shutt, guy drove a Bentley. How cool is that? He, Lemaire, and LaFleur were pure magic.

    I remember this fight, I think it might have been in the playoffs. Stan Jonathan and Larry Robinson. Jonathan was one tough guy but he was giving away like a foot in height and two feet in reach. Two guys with all the heart in the world but it just looked so silly.

    Hated the Flyers but Barber could flat out play. I remember one interview where he admitted that the Flyers players mostly had no clue what Freddie the Fog was saying. Those were some great series, Canadiens vs Flyers and then Canadiens vs Boston.

    Anybody remember the offside goal, I think it was Gainey, that broke Don Cherry’s heart?

  18. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Billy Smith. Oh, how I hated that fucker.

    Closest modern comparable that younger Oiler fans might relate to is Ed Belfour. Fiercely combative pricks both of them, fast and loose with the big stick or the blocker (“drop the gloves?” are you kidding me?), oh and did I mention great fucking goalies. Oiler killers, broke your heart and your spirit.

    Sometime in the last ten years I went to an Old Timers game between Canada and Russia. Well wouldn’t you know but Billy Smith was in net for the “good” guys. Didn’t matter: when he came down to my end for the second period I couldn’t resist and started heckling him but good. The Russians lit him up and I was giving Billy the gears and laughing harder every time they scored. The Russians FFS! I used to hate those fuckers too. But never as much as I hated that fucker Billy Smith.

  19. VOR says:

    Bruce,

    You remember Billy Smith and Glen Anderson trying to break each other’s legs?

    Smith really didn’t like Anderson plowing into him over and over again. I think Anderson just didn’t like Smith. Maybe it was all Islanders and all goaltenders.

  20. ashley says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Closest modern comparable that younger Oiler fans might relate to is Ed Belfour.

    Or maybe Ron Hextall as a comparable from that fiesty point of view.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqe8wlQ2ybU

    But really, Billy was in a league of his own.

  21. El Guapo says:

    If any of you are interested, the Journal is reporting that 360 architecture has been awarded the contract to design the new arena…they designed the new Giants/Jets stadium…and they have some beautiful projects…see more at http://www.360architects.com/index.html.

    Should the team remain brutal once the new arena is complete at least one can distract oneself by admiring the beautifully designed building.

  22. Ivan says:

    Greetings, fellow long-suffering Oiler fans… like a lot of you, I’ve been slavishly following LT over at the old site, but I’m taking the registration plunge over here, in the rare instance that i have something intelligent to contribute to the discussion.
    LT, I really need to repeat what so many have said before, because it’s true. Without this blog, it would be even tougher to remain a fan of this team. Your entertaining, articulate and thoughtful postings make it at least bearable. Your work is appreciated by anyone who calls this team theirs.

    As a kid, back when princes rode horses and such, I was a Habs fan, and Larry Robinson was one of my favorites. There was an element of intimidation that some of those defensemen carried that is pretty rare today.
    I came across this video the other day, which has some great old-time (1946) footage as well as some interesting pieces about women playing, (tomboys only, of course!) as well as some footage of an army group, who used hockey as part of their training regime.
    And oh my, were those Original Six games ever tough! The sticks were always waving up about face high, and the checking was unreal!
    Anyhow, enjoy it if you haven’t seen it before. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEfVzv71_UQ&feature=player_embedded

  23. Mr DeBakey says:

    they designed the new Giants/Jets stadium

    From an article about the current NFL stadium in Jersey “The Architecture of Disaster”:

    “Make no mistake: The Lump is the most featureless (and inefficient) stadium in history — and that includes (RIP) Cleveland Municipal Stadium (a.k.a. The Mistake By The Lake). The Lump is a huge, featureless rectangle, the sort of building you’d never glance twice at if you passed it on any interstate loop surrounding any American city. No, the kind of building you’d instinctually glance away from the way you’d glance away from anything Albert Speer had designed, because you instinctively knew that whoever wanted that kind of flat-lining affect on their office building were not the kind of people you wanted to hang with.
    And that’s just what it looks like from the outside. From the inside, somehow, the upper deck seats are so cloud-scrapingly high that they put you closer to 767s on a flight path into Newark than to the players on the field — but furnish not a glimpse of the world’s most famous skyline, eight miles away. You could be in Meridien, Miss., or Allentown, Pa. Or you could be in the capital of the world. No way of knowing.”

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6851333/the-architecture-disaster

  24. Spydyr says:

    The Big Bird after pummeling his first few opponents did not have to fight that often the rest of his career,The old Habs teams from the 70′s …Man firewagon hockey .Sure miss that era compared to todays 30 team watered down hockey.

  25. CrazyCoach says:

    Billy Smith was so intense. One of my brothers in the coaching fraternity was an assistant for Billy Smith as Billy was coaching his sons bantam team. I guess one day Billy gets ticked at the kids for not shooting the puck, so he dons blocker and catching glove, takes a goal stick, and orders the kids to shoot the puck at him as hard as they can. Now, this doesn’t sound too crazy, until you realize that all Billy had on, was the blocker, catching glove, stick, and a whole lot of rage.

    Now that’s intense.

  26. El Guapo says:

    Mr DeBakey,

    Nice article…hit the link I gave and go to their portfolio section and check out the Basrah Sport City, which perhaps is a better example of some of their nicer sports work…anyway, many times building projects are client driven, which appears to be the case in the Giants/Jets stadium design…so we have nothing to worry about for the Edmonton arena, right?

  27. Lois Lowe says:

    I just don’t trust Button’s list. Dumba at 2 and Murray at 9 is at odds with pretty much everything I have read so far this year (which isn’t a lot). I like Reinhart but I don’t think he’s ahead of those other Russian forwards.

  28. Ducey says:

    Brule with 1 G 1A in less than 10 minutes work this afternoon against COL.

    Varlomov stunk it out again. He now has save % of .899. That’s 40th out of 45 tenders.

    Good thing they gave up a first round pick for him.

    Bryzgalov is at .891 and 42nd overall.

    Page 1 of the GM handbook should read: “Don’t overpay to get a goalie. Some retread like Brian Elliot (.937and who played for COL last year) or Mike Smith (.927) will make you look silly.”

  29. Bruce McCurdy says:

    @Vor: Yeah Anderson & Smith had a couple of close encounters of the Sherwood kind. They hated each other, for sure. Anderson hated all goalies and all Islanders and especially both. All the Oilers, even the more mild-mannered ones, hated Smith, he was a real focus of raging, seething hatred. In both directions.

    Andy was fearless and skated in to Smith’s territory on a shoot-in in Game One in 1984, knowing full well Smith was going to nail him (which he did on the follow-through) and just skating right through it. That was the game Oilers won 1-0 right in Nassau Coliseum, turning the tables on the game they lost by virtually that same score in Game One the year previous (2-0 on a very late empty-netter). But the difference was the first time Smith got into their heads right off the bat (when he slashed Gretzky) and the second time he didn’t. Anderson’s drive-through the danger zone was the canary in the coal mine that proved Oilers were focussed instead on bigger issues. You really want to hurt Billy Smith? You beat his ass in the Stanley Cup Finals, that’s how. And that’s what the Oilers did.

    Plus, Jaroslav Pouzar absolutely crushed Smith in Game Three with a bone-jarring hit, but that was just the cherry on top.

  30. Doogie2K says:

    Spydyr,

    I love when people talk about today’s being “watered down” and then lionizing the 1970s. There were more major-league teams in the mid-70s than there are today (32 in 1974-75 and 1975-76), and European and American scouting were virtually unheard of. The number of Swedes and Finns in the NHL and WHA (outside Winnipeg) in the ’70s could be counted on one hand, the number of Americans wasn’t much bigger, and the number of Eastern Europeans could be counted on one finger (Vaclav Nedomansky, who defected in 1974 to play for the Toronto Toros).

    Net effect: more minor-leaguers and goons, especially in the WHA, worse hockey outside the elite teams, greater talent disparity between the haves and have-nots. Outside a handful of true goons, I bet most fourth-liners in today’s NHL are far better than the average third-liner in the NHL of 35 years ago. And that’s without accounting for superior fitness and skill training.

  31. bookje says:

    Doogie2K,

    FULLY agree – even without the WHA considered, the growth of the game (at the minor league level) in Canada probably has been greater than the expansion of the NHL. Adding the Europeans + the growth of the game in the USA would suggest that the ratio of NHLers to Minor League players is much higher now than in the past.

  32. Gret99zky says:

    Bruce McCurdy:
    Billy Smith. Oh, how I hated that fucker.

    The Russians FFS! I used to hate those fuckers too. But never as much as I hated that fucker Billy Smith.

    Awesome, way to not hold back, Bruce. Goodonya!

  33. Spydyr says:

    @Doogie2K.
    I was referring ti the NHL.The WHA was a minor league.If you take into account all the minor league teams today there are far more pro teams now.As far as fitness goes sure they are in better shape now.They also make more in a year playing second line than a elite player made in a career back in the day.Times have changed. Besides everything looks better through a child’s eye.As i was in the 70′s. Those players were my hero’s.

  34. pboy says:

    I’m loving these stories from Bruce. I was born in 1975, so I remember bits and pieces of the glory years in the mid ’80s but that’s about all.

  35. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Gret99zky,

    Gret99zky: Awesome, way to not hold back, Bruce. Goodonya!

    Thanks, Gret99zky, I try not to overdo it on the crude language, but when things descend into pure fucking hatred, well that’s what those words are for!

  36. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Spydyr,

    The WHA was somewhere in between major and minor league. You ask NHL teams who lost the likes of Hull and Parent and Cheevers and JC Tremblay and Tardif – not to mention some of the flow from the pipeline of new talent – and there’s zero doubt of things getting watered down. “Major league hockey” went from 6 to 32 teams in 8 seasons, and the influx of European talent was still almost entirely in the future. A whole lot of those teams would have been treading water in the AHL or WHL of the 1960s. Shit, the Washington Caps might have finished last in one of Those leagues.

  37. Mr DeBakey says:

    The WHA was a minor league

    WHA and NHL teams played a total of 72 exhibition games from 74 – 78.
    WHA teams won 33, Lost 31 and 8 were tied.

  38. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Thing was, while other teams got watered down by expansion and poaching, the Habs just carried on. Lose a guy like Tremblay or Mahovlich or Tardif? No problem, just replace him with a new Hall of Famer like Robinson or Shutt or Gainey.

    Btw, I think a very good case can be made that 1972 was the most important year in hockey history. The Summit Series changed the face of hockey, and the start of the Rebel League plus more NHL expansion saw the birth of the Oilers as well as many of their fiercest rivals, including the Islanders, Flames, Jets and (sob) Hurricanes. The calibre of hockey kind of went to shit for a few years but the growth of the game was exponential.

  39. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Mr DeBakey: The WHA was a minor leagueWHA and NHL teams played a total of 72 exhibition games from 74 – 78.WHA teams won 33, Lost 31 and 8 were tied.

    A large part of the NHL was minor league too. Almost all of the NHL teams that played those games were Western Conference/expansion teams, never the Habs or Bruins or Rangers or even Leafs, and a huge majority of those games were played in WHA cities. Still, WHA teams would have been competitive with much of the NHL right off the hop, and a few of them would have been playoff teams in a hypothetically merged league.

  40. HeavySig says:

    Henry:
    Game 4 1979.Some said the puck went in and out, others that it went through.The replay of the era said it went in, but no light, no goal then.

    I remember this game very well. Definitely went straight threw the twine, blown OT goal call.

    A bunch of us were huddled into a cabin at the lake watching this game on the rabbit ears and we all threw cash in the pot for a winning goal lottery. I picked Robinson and the non-goal call cost me the pot!

  41. Mr DeBakey says:

    Lessee:
    in 74, the Oilers lost to the Canucks
    in 76, they lost to the Penguins twice and once to the Blues
    In 77, they beat the Blues and the Red Wings and lost to the Barons.
    In 78, the beat the Canucks and Rockies, ans split with the North Stars

  42. Bos8 says:

    I’m still puzzled that CSB rated Faksa at number four and there is no talk about him until the teens anywhere else. His goals/assists are even. For a center that’s meh in my opinion. He’s on a point per game. The hilights show garbage goals. His skating eh? He was supposedly sick in the Junior Series. So where does the four come from.

    Not big on the high ranked D. Too small. Reinhart not playing again.

  43. HeavySig says:

    VOR,

    The Stan Jonathon fight you are thinking of was likely with Pierre Bouchard, who was almost as tall as Robinson and a fairly rugged defenseman, but he wasn’t in Robinson’s class a fighter or much else. Google the fight on youtube and you will see what a bloody mess Jonathon makes of Bouchard..

  44. Lowetide says:

    The Robinson goal I referenced would have been post-season 1973, so maybe against Buffalo? Goal counted–ended the game. That much I remember

  45. HeavySig says:

    Lowetide:
    The Robinson goal I referenced would have been post-season 1973, so maybe against Buffalo? Goal counted–ended the game. That much I remember

    Yeah, LT, your Robinson OT goal and the one Henry brought up were different animals.

    We are about the same age, LT, and the game I watched at the lake where the Robinson goal was missed I had to have been 18 since I was drinking beer….yeah, that’s the ticket…well, I may have been a few months shy, but I was big for my age. It was likely around the May long weekend or thereabouts, 1979.

    That was the last Cup of that Hab dynasty, Minny knocked them out the next year and the Oilers arrived on the scene somewhere around there.

  46. VOR says:

    heavysig,

    No Bouchard-Jonathan is one of the great fights in NHL history. This one was pure comedy. Robinson basically holds Jonathan at arms length like you would hold a baby with a stinky diaper while Jonathan tries to figure out how to fight a guy you can’t reach. I am thinking that Robinson couldn’t figure out how to fight Jonathan without getting a ton of body blows against him and figured it just wasn’t worth it.

    Jonathan pounded the crap out of Bouchard in the other fight. In that class of fight is Robinson against Dave Schultz were they go toe to toe. Not that I am much in to fighting but Robinson Jonathan stuck in my head all these years because it just looked so funny.

  47. oilersfan says:

    So Bruce

    Did you like or dislike Billy Smith? You aren’t very clear about it…

    Interesting on this thread nobody has mentioned crazy coach”s comparison of Martin Marincin to Robinson. Now that he is not on the worst team in the whl MM has 2 and 2 for four points in three games with the Pats. And given how much Regina gave up for him he must be highly regarded around the league. Dean Clark in Prince George compared Marincin to Alex Edler so it will be interesting to see if Marincin can come up half way through next season and stick as Edler did as a 20 year old. He really needs to add 30 pouinds somehow without losing his speed. Same with Petry who is looking more and more like Tom Gilbert as time goes on.

    As for Craig’s list, considering the former Dallas head scout ruined the Flames for the current generation by drafting Rico Fata and Daniel Tkachyk in the lottery I just can’t listen to him or take his opinion seriously. Matt Dumba reminds me of Brule. Small fast mean guy who will spend most of his NHL career injured when he bounces off all the 220 pounders.

  48. hunter1909 says:

    Only Lowe(obsessed with repeating mistakes until outcomes miraculously change) could be stupid enough to draft Dumba.

    Everything I read about Dumba reminds me of another mighty midget from juniors named Gilbert Brule. Stick these runts in the big leagues and they wilt like daisies.

  49. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Lowetide: The Robinson goal I referenced would have been post-season 1973, so maybe against Buffalo? Goal counted–ended the game. That much I remember

    LT: It was against Philly in the semis, Game 2. Tied the series, and brought the Habs back from the dead. Here’s the summary if you’re interested. Robinson’s first career playoff goal, unassisted, in freaking overtime. That was The Montreal Way.

  50. D says:

    bookje,

    I also remember the Lumley spear on Smith in 1983. The Oil v. the Isles and Sather v. Al Arbour felt like the Clash of the Titans in those days.

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