One for Juha

I’m an Edmonton Oiler fan since Bill Hunter stood in front of the sign on the Yellowhead 40 years ago, and a Bruin fan before it. However, a fan gets attached to certain players along the way and for me Juha Widing was someone who stayed with me over the years.

Although a Swede he was born in Finland and to my generation he was one of the first European players we’d heard of in junior, the minors or the NHL. Widing was interesting because of his name (it was pronounced “Yoo-Haa Veeeding”) and because he was skilled, skilled enough to be the best player on the LA Kings for several seasons. We’d usually see LA maybe once a year and since Widing was the best player he was noticed (plus the uniforms drew attention to anyone who had the puck and Widing had it some).

In the summer of 1974, LA General Manager Larry Regan said “If ever we have a superstar in LA, it’ll be Whitey because of his size, skating ability and the fact that he does score goals.”

Widing and his family came over to Western Canada in the mid-1960s in order for him to play against the best competition and he landed with the Brandon Wheat Kings. By all accounts he had a pretty difficult time (he definitely would have been a target in that era) but put up good numbers and was regarded as a good prospect by the parent New York Rangers (this was before the draft during the sponsorship era). Among his career accomplishments:

  • MJHL Second All-Star Team (1967).
  • Central Hockey League Second All-Star Team (1969).
  • NHL debut October 12, 1969 for NYR versus the Bruins in Boston.
  • Loaned to Port Arthur (TBJHL) by Brandon (MJHL) for Memorial Cup playoffs, March, 1964.
  • Traded to LA Kings by NY Rangers with Real Lemieux for Ted Irvine, Feb. 28, 1970
  • Signed as a free agent by Edmonton (WHA), June, 1978.
  • Traded to Indianapolis (WHA) by Edmonton (WHA) for Bill Goldsworthy, June, 1978.

Widing had health problems after his NHL (575gp, 144-226-370) and WHA career (71gp, 18-24-42 with the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA in 1977-78), the cause of which is well known in the hockey industry but has never been made public. He suffered a heart attack on his farm near Winfield, British Columbia and died in Kelowna in 1984 at the age of 37. Some sources have him dying in Vancouver, but I believe the above information to be correct.

Ulf Sterner is often mentioned, Borje Salming was certainly the first great European NHL player, but in the middle of that was a Swede from Finland named Juha Widing who was a player.

I’m cheering for LA to win the Stanley. Call it one for Juha.

 

 

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30 Responses to "One for Juha"

  1. spoiler says:

    Very nice, LT. I know you’ve talked about Juha before but that was a stellar lead in to the Cup Finals.

    Go Kings. I was cheering for Stoll, Greener and Pancakes anyway. Not to mention Paul Holmgren.

  2. Henry says:

    LT,
    One day they are going to make you poet laureate for this game.

  3. spoiler says:

    What would teams do without ex-Oilers?

  4. Lowetide says:

    Christ. Who knows? Europe?

  5. hunter1909 says:

    I’ve jumped on and off the Rangers bandwagon so many times this year it’s not funny, but I’ll pick the Devils even if they’re losing 1-0 lol. Lots of reasons to cheer for the Kings, that pesky captain of theirs notwithstanding.

  6. hunter1909 says:

    Come to think of it, I can’t cheer for New Jersey anything. Fuck that, it’s just wrong. Go Kings.

    PS: This is the worst final I’ve ever seen by a country mile. A 6th place meets 8th place team, lol. Will the last one to leave turn out the light?

  7. gogliano says:

    Nik Lidstrom retiring.

    It’ll be interesting to see how they do next year. Even in his old years he seemed to guarantee the Red Wings 20 minutes plus of great hockey a night. Can’t think of many players who were able to control the game for such a long period of their career. That ’06 run was great but I think we all knew the Red Wings were the better team and Pronger-Lidstrom was almost a sawoff with Pronger playing some of the most elite D minutes I’ve ever seen.

    Definitely a player who makes even a real Hall of Fame. With the exception of Orr it is hard to think of a D-man who is clearly his superior.

  8. DSF says:

    gogliano:
    Nik Lidstrom retiring.

    It’ll be interesting to see how they do next year.Even in his old years he seemed to guarantee the Red Wings 20 minutes plus of great hockey a night.Can’t think of many players who were able to control the game for such a long period of their career.That ’06 run was great but I think we all knew the Red Wings were the better team and Pronger-Lidstrom was almost a sawoff with Pronger playing some of the most elite D minutes I’ve ever seen.

    Definitely a player who makes even a real Hall of Fame.With the exception of Orr it is hard to think of a D-man who is clearly his superior.

    They’ll just plug in Suter and Parise and keep going.

  9. spoiler says:

    Notice Sutter said “Kevin and Steve know where to find me.”. Not Steve. Not Steve and Kevin.

    Sorry, this thread was seriously lacking in interview over-analysis.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Well, at least he didn’t say “Kevin and Goob know where I am…”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blQrIySidOA&feature=related

  11. spoiler says:

    Lowetide:
    Well, at least he didn’t say “Kevin and Goob know where I am…”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blQrIySidOA&feature=related

    As long as Goober is getting his ideas from a talking dog, I think we’re all good.

  12. misfit says:

    I can’t bring myself to cheer for LA for many reasons, but a Devils victory marginally helps our draft in 2 ways:

    1. the 3rd we got in the Penner deal is one pick higher
    2. NJ is all but guaranteed to forfeit this year’s 1st if it’s #30 overall (ok, they’re probably giving it up anyway).

    Plus, I’ve always kinda liked the Devils’ logo/jerseys. Probably not the best reason to cheer for a team, but when you really don’t care at all about either of them, any reason seems good enough.

  13. oilersfan says:

    I asked this the other night and nobody answered but I will ask again. Over the last few years Lidstrom has had a few injuries. Can any of you stats guys say what Detroit’s record is with and without him?

    I am guessing they would project to miss the playoffs based on that small sample size.

    Without him, and with Datsyuk and Z closer to 35 than 30, I don’t see why Suter or anyone else would sign there. Their elite players are on the downslide and Helm and Abdelkader aren’t going to replace them.

  14. DSF says:

    oilersfan:
    I asked this the other night and nobody answered but I will ask again. Over the last few years Lidstrom has had a few injuries. Can any of you stats guys say what Detroit’s record is with and without him?

    I am guessing they would project to miss the playoffs based on that small sample size.

    Without him, and with Datsyuk and Z closer to 35 than 30, I don’t see why Suter or anyone else would sign there. Their elite players are on the downslide and Helm and Abdelkader aren’t going to replace them.

    The cap is expected to be about $70M.

    That will leave Detroit with about $27M in cap space in the offseason.

    Assuming they sign Suter ($7M) and Parisee ($7M) they would still have about $13M in cap space with 20 players under contract.

    I expect Holland can fill out his roster.

  15. spoiler says:

    Since LT hasn’t tweeted his picks, we’ll make him go with 2 defensemen in OT: Barry Long and Rob Ramage.

  16. spoiler says:

    That boy has wanted to score all game.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Actually, I did: Juha Widing and Jim Dowd. And then Anze scores. Sweet result.

  18. oilersfan says:

    DSF

    I think Detroit’s mgmt team is vastly overrated.

    IF they can sign Suter, good for them. If I am Suter, I go to Philly and it isn’t close. Which elite player will he be playing with in three years in Detroit? Datsyuk will be 37.

    If I am Parise I stay in NJ.

    if Detroit doesn’t sign those two they are the Calgary Flames

  19. oilersfan says:

    Lidstrom missed 11 games from Feb 26 -March 23. The Wings were 3-6-2. Two of the wins were against Columbus and Minnesota (who was the worst team in the NHL after Christmas)

    I know it’s a small sample size, but that record won’t get you into the playoffs.

    He missed a 12th game somewhere on the schedule but I can’t figure out which one or how the Wings did in that game.

    Maybe the elite player joining Ryan Suter if he signs there and Brad Stuart leaves will be Nathan McKinnon or Curtis Lazar?

  20. gogliano says:

    Even if they sign Suter I’m not convinced Suter brings what Nik Lidstrom has brought over the last decade and a half. But they still have to sign Suter and Parise.

    And like Oilersfan, I don’t see the draw for Detroit long term. A large part of Detroit’s appeal was its ability to win and that ability has been backstopped by the Lidstom/Datsyuk core. Even Hank is on the wrong side of 30. Detroit isn’t N.Y. that can always sell players on the city. At the very least there is uncertainty as to whether Detroit will be an elite team going forward.

    Throw in Western travel and I don’t see how Detroit maintains its luster going forward.

  21. Ducey says:

    I’d settle for a Brandon Davidson signing at this point. Still no word?

  22. bookje says:

    I want New Jersey to win, but mostly because I want 40 year old goalies (and nearly 40 year old goalies) to be the hot item at this year’s draft trade tables. I suggest that we offer up our 2nd and Khabibulin (did I mention that he is a soon to be 40 year old goalie with a cup ring…) to get another first round pick.

  23. gogliano says:

    RE: the win-loss record with and without Lidstrom, Lidstrom has averaged almost 80 games per season since the 95-96 season. That’s on top of all the problems with the stat itself, of course. The above 11 game run is, I think, the longest absence he has had.

  24. regwald says:

    Sorry, can’t cheer for Lou. It would take the Canucks in the cup final and I guess the Flames too.

    I want Q, to put Lou on trial for the following deeds:

    1.Choking the life out of hockey for a decade with the trap.
    2. Circumventing the cap with Mogilny and that dman (name escapes me) he traded to SJ to hide the cap $$
    3. Circumventing the cap with Kovalchuk contract (yes, I know Bettman already punished him, but I want more).
    4. Voting against realignment and the balanced schedule.

    There’s probably more, but it’s late and I think the above is enough to send him the hangman’s gallows.

    Go Ex-Oilers Go !!! The Kings deserve this one.

  25. regwald says:

    bookje:
    I want New Jersey to win, but mostly because I want 40 year old goalies (and nearly 40 year old goalies) to be the hot item at this year’s draft trade tables. I suggest that we offer up our 2nd and Khabibulin (did I mention that he is a soon to be 40 year old goalie with a cup ring…) to get another first round pick.

    I like your logic, but damn it makes me hard to believe anyone would be that silly or drunk to trade for Khabi. There would need to be pictures involved … LOL

  26. Marc says:

    spoiler,

    To answer your question from the last thread, I think that it’s absolutely worth it to risk a 6th or 7th round pick on Schultz. I’m a lawyer and I spent a couple of hours going through the CBA trying to figure out why Schultz isn’t draft eligible. I could not find anything that definitively indicates that he isn’t.

    If you pick him the onus would be on his agent to prove that he wasn’t eligible. If he can then all that’s lost is a pick that probably won’t amount to much. If he can’t (and the League may well see this as an opportunity to close the Wheeler loophole) then the OIlers come out of the draft with two of the best three or four players available. It’s an absolute no brainer to take a punt on this.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Ducey:
    I’d settle for a Brandon Davidson signing at this point.Still no word?

    There’s still no word on Klefbom, either.

  28. Cactus says:

    gogliano:
    Even if they sign Suter I’m not convinced Suter brings what Nik Lidstrom has brought over the last decade and a half.But they still have to sign Suter and Parise.

    And like Oilersfan, I don’t see the draw for Detroit long term.A large part of Detroit’s appeal was its ability to win and that ability has been backstopped by the Lidstom/Datsyuk core.Even Hank is on the wrong side of 30.Detroit isn’t N.Y. that can always sell players on the city.At the very least there is uncertainty as to whether Detroit will be an elite team going forward.

    Throw in Western travel and I don’t see how Detroit maintains its luster going forward.

    Plus, there’s the fact that Detroit i(the city) is now so depopulated and bankrupt that they don’t have enough money to fix street lights and are considering a plan to shut half of them off because they literally don’t have the money to keep the lights on.

    The suburbs around the city are lovely, but Detroit proper certainly can’t compete with anywhere in terms of liveability or amenities. It’ll be interesting to see how recruitment goes if they suffer a couple bad seasons in a row.

  29. spoiler says:

    Lowetide:
    Actually, I did: Juha Widing and Jim Dowd. And then Anze scores. Sweet result.

    Sorry bro.

    Your tweet didn’t show up for me below till about 15 mins after u tweeted it. The OT period was starting and there were no predictions and I panicked, lol.

  30. CrazyCoach says:

    Did anyone notice that Juha was traded for Ted Irvine, who is the father of the WWE’s Chris Jericho?

    I’m going for the Kings. Lou tried his best to kill hockey, but he failed. as he was smite to the ground. Lemaire tried to kill hockey, but he failed as he was stricken down to the ground.

    No-one can destroy Hockey
    Hockey will strike you down with a vicious blow
    We are the vanquished foes of Hockey
    We tried to win for why we do not know

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