September 17, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Bob Gainey


Take a look at Bob Gainey's career statistics. This is perhaps the most obvious case that statistics do not tell the whole story.

An impressive 1160 games played but "only" 239 career goals, 262 assists for 501 points. Throw in 25 more goals and 73 more points in 182 playoff games, and it appears Bob was a fairly average player.

Gainey never scored more than 23 goals or 47 points in a single season, yet the Russians once called him the greatest player in the world.

Gainey was a defensive specialist. He was constantly bumping, grinding, tormenting, frustrating and nullifying his opponents. The NHL didn't hand out an award for the game's best defensive forward until 1978, and Gainey's awesome largely responsible for the creation of the award. Gainey was the first recipient of the Frank J. Selke Trophy and won it 4 years in a row.

Full Bob Gainey Biography

September 14, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Al Secord


He took over from Bobby Hull as the Blackhawks 50 goal scorer. At the same time he took over from Keith Magnuson as the Hawks enforcer and heart and soul. It sounds like almost the perfect combination for a hockey player. For a couple of seasons in the 1980s, Al Secord was that player.

In Cam Neely-like fashion, Secord could hurt you two ways - with his goals, or with his fists. Playing on Chicago's "Party Line" with Denis Savard and Steve Larmer, Secord scored 40 goals three times, including 54 in 1982-83. At the same time he was a hard crashing forechecker and a feared fighter.

Full Al Secord Biography

September 13, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Chris Phillips

 When Chris Phillips announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2016 season, he joined Gilbert Perreault and Denis Potvin as the only first overall draft picks to play an entire career of more than 1000 games all with his original franchise.

Phillips was no superstar like Perreault or Potvin. Instead he was the definition of a "stay-at-home defenseman" both literally and figuratively.

The Ottawa Senators drafted Phillips first overall in the 1996 NHL draft. He would go on to play 1179 regular season games with the Senators, and another 114 in the playoffs.

Through it all he saw superstars - Alexei Yashin, Dany Heatley, Zdeno Chara, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson - come and go. He saw coaches fires, playoff collapses and even the team filing for bankruptcy.

Through it all Chris Phillips was the one constant in the nation's capital city.

Full Chris Phillips Biography

September 10, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Brad Park


Brad Park was a highly efficient defender, combining size and clean but dogged tenacity with an uncanny awareness of the game. A noted hip-checker, Park was brash and unintimidated. But with the puck he became a natural chessmaster on the ice. more-than-likely make a perfect pinpoint pass to clear the puck out of the zone and start the attack. With a short burst of speed he would often jump to join the rush as a fourth attacker, and was a true power play quarterback. Park, not unlike Ray Bourque years later, was a consistently steady defender with often brilliant offensive instincts.

In almost any other time period Brad Park would have been considered the best defenseman of his time. But Park played in the enormous shadows of Bobby Orr in Boston and Denis Potvin on Long Island. The only thing that kept the spotlight on them as opposed to Park was their team success and a combined 6 Stanley Cup championships to Park's zero.

Full Brad Park Biography

September 09, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Terry O'Reilly


Boston sports fans love their sports heroes unlike any other city. Larry Bird. Bobby Orr. Ted Williams. Carl Yastremski. Bob Cousy. Terry O'Reilly.

Terry O'Reilly?

Terry O'Reilly wasn't the best skater, or the best scorer, or the best playmaker. In the storied history of the Boston Bruins he is far from the best player to ever wear the black and gold, but no one played harder or endeared himself more to the Boston faithful.

His Irish heritage certainly didn't hurt either.

A less-talented version of Cam Neely, O'Reilly was the heart and soul of the Bruins. He out-hustled every opponent, crashed and banged with reckless abandon, and played every shift as if it was game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.

Full Terry O'Rielly Biography

September 08, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Ken Dryden


There is an old hockey adage that goes something like this: "A team is only as good as its goalie."

Ken Dryden ranks among the greatest goaltenders not only in Montreal Canadiens history, but in hockey history. Dryden follows in the Habs footsteps of Georges Vezina, George Hainsworth, Bill Durnan, Jacques Plante, Gump Worsley and followed by Patrick Roy as great goalies to wear the "CH"

But try to imagine this - Ken Dryden wearing a Boston Bruins uniform.

Unthinkable right? Well what many people don't know is that Boston actually drafted the 6'4" 225lb "octopus" of a goalie in 1964, 14th overall. 

Full Ken Dryden Biography

September 07, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Terry Ruskowski

Terry Ruskowski was born and raised just outside of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Learning the game on the frozen ponds on the family farm, he immediately battled the rap that he was too small. After his first season with Humboldt in the Saskatchewan junior league he asked his coach about moving up to the junior A at Swift Current. He was told he would never be big enough, sparking Terry's characteristic desire work ethic and desire. Nothing would stop him from achieving his dream of playing for the Swift Current Broncos

Terry would have had a hard time in the juniors if he hadn't decided right away to play the way he did. He wasn't a speedy skater or a prolific scorer so he chose the gritty and chippy style of play. Or as Terry put it: " You had to decide on a style. You can't kid yourself because that's when the pros are watching. I realized my only chance was to fore-check the best I could and hustle like crazy. "

Full Terry Ruskowski Biography

September 06, 2021

Featured Hockey Legends: Pat Falloon and Ray Whitney

They were junior superstars in the 1990s, leading the Spokane Chiefs to the Memorial Cup championship in 1991. 

That year they became the top two draft selections of the expansion San Jose Sharks, and were destined to be the faces of the new franchise.

Ultimately that did not work out so well. Pat Falloon played admirably though injuries limited his game as a top end talent. Ray Whitney did emerge as a top end player for many years, but mostly once he left California.

Read the full Pat Falloon and Ray Whitney biographies 

September 03, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Vladimir Myshkin


When you are the second best anything in your entire country, that is amazing. But for Vladimir Myshkin it was an unlucky situation. That's because he was the second best goalie in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and early 1980s, behind the legendary Vladislav Tretiak. That meant Myshkin rarely got to play. 

Internationally Myshkin was part of seven gold medals, two silvers, two bronze at the Olympics and World championships. He also was an important part of the Russians victorious team at the 1979 Challenge Cup tournament against the NHL All Stars (Myshkin posted a shutout in his only game in the best of three series). He also played well at the 1984 Canada Cup, his first major tournament as Russia's starting goaltender after Tretiak's retirement. Myshkin was named to the tournament all star team. He had a perfect 5-0 record before losing to Canada in an epic semi-final showdown.

Full Vladimir Myshkin Biography

September 02, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Neal Broten


Minnesota is known as "The State of Hockey." With notoriously frigid winters and countless frozen lakes, ponds and streams to play on, hockey was as natural to Minnesotans as it was for Canadians. For the longest time, hockey in the United States was more or less affiliated with Minnesota. The life of smaller towns revolved around the rinks and ponds. High school hockey has as much interest as the pro game. And the college rivalries are as intense as any pro rivalry.

Like many families in Roseau, Minnesota, hockey was a birthright for the Broten family. Neal and his brothers Aaron and Paul would all be state high school and college stars, and go onto the National Hockey League.

But few would argue that Neal was not the best. In fact, in a state that has produced more hockey superstars than virtually every other state in the country, most consider Neal to be the best player the state has ever produced.

Full Neal Broten Biography

September 01, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Ron Hextall


With his masterful stickhandling, goaltender Ron Hextall helped revolutionize the game of hockey.

Ron Hextall's career started out like gangbusters. As a rookie he challenged Grant Fuhr for top status as the games best goalie in the late 1980s. He was incredible and made the Flyers a true Stanley Cup threat. Over time Ron's play leveled off to the point where he continued to play solidly, but was a victim of his own early success.

Hextall should be remembered as one of the most exciting goalies to watch play. He excited fans in a way that Dominik Hasek or Tony Esposito did. Fans will also remember Hexy for his uncontrollable temper. He set an NHL record for goaltenders with 113 PIM in 1988-89. Memorable skirmishes with Edmonton's Kent Nilsson and Montreal's Chris Chelios always stick out in the minds of many hockey fans.

Full Ron Hextall Biography

August 31, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Denis Savard

Denis Savard was one of the most electrifying players in the history of hockey, and almost certainly the most exciting of his era. That is quite a claim considering Savard played in an era that boasted the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. The Great One and Super Mario left crowds wowed and thinking "Did I just see that?!" but they couldn't pull the fans out of their seat quite like Denis Savard.

Savard was one of the quickest players in the league, with tremendous one step acceleration. He was so fun to watch as he'd dart in and out of danger, rapidly change directions, and even perfect the "Savardian Spin-a-rama" in which he'd do a full 360 degree turn while carrying the puck to protect it from checkers. His great skating was complimented nicely by his incredibly soft hands. He could stickhandle through an entire team and was an excellent playmaker. He was also a very good shooter, particularly with his laser-like wrist shot. He was also known for taking bad angle shots. He was a puny player in terms of size but he had a solid center of gravity that made him tough to knock off the puck if you were lucky enough to catch him.

Full Denis Savard Biography

August 30, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Anders Hedberg


When you think of Anders Hedberg, you have to think of Ulf Nilsson at the same time. The explosive scoring duo came to the World Hockey Association's Winnipeg Jets shortly after Borje Salming and Inge Hammerstrom arrived in Toronto with the NHL Maple Leafs. They all became the first Swedish born players to achieve superstar status in North American hockey.

Upon arrival in Winnipeg, Nilsson and Hedberg were almost immediately teamed up with The Golden Jet - Bobby Hull. Thus, tons of attention was poured on these two Swedish kids. And they didn't disappoint. In fact, they help Hull achieve mind boggling statistics while playing an exciting brand of hockey previously not seen in North America. Many look back it at it now and call it "Edmonton Oiler Hockey" only a few years earlier. Like Gretzky's Oilers, Nilsson, Hedberg and Hull loved to run and gun.

Full Anders Hedberg Biography

August 28, 2021

Featured Hockey Legend: Dickie Moore


In Montreal, no person is more revered than Maurice "Rocket" Richard. That's why when a scout proclaimed Dickie Moore would make fans forget about the Rocket, Hab management eagerly listened.

Although hampered by injuries such as knee operations, shoulder separations, broken hands and wrists and countless bruises, scars and wounds, he twice led the league in scoring. In fact in 1959 he recorded 96 points to set a new NHL record for points in a season. This feat is made more amazing in the fact that he played much of the season with a specially designed cast on his injured shooting wrist!

His toughness came to no surprise for those who knew him since he was a toddler. Growing up in blue collar North Montreal, Dickie first established a reputation as tough-as-nails when he was hit by a car. Injuries to his knees and leg threatened his hockey career, but Moore stubbornly was determined to achieve the only dream he ever had - to play in the NHL. Although he was not a Habs fan growing up - he cheered for Gordie Drillon and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Full Dickie Moore biography

August 26, 2021

Remembering Rod Gilbert and the New York Rangers GAG Line

 Rod Gilbert overcame a serious injury to not only become a legend of the ice but to become one of the brightest stars on Broadway.

During a junior game, Gilbert skated over a piece of debris on the ice and suffered a broken back. He had two operations to correct the damage from the injury and he almost lost his life as a result of the surgeries.

"During a home game I tripped over a cardboard lid from an ice cream container and wound up breaking my back," said Gilbert in Stan Fischler's book Heroes and History. "From that point on I went through hell - trips to the Mayo Clinic, spinal fusion and doubts that I'd play again - but the Rangers stuck with me. They provided me with the best of care and eventually, I was on the road to recovery. The Rangers, by this time, had figured that I could be an important player for them during the 1960s and my junior record showed why they had such faith," said Gilbert

Indeed it did. He played 4 years with the Guelph Biltmores, and in his final season scored 54 goals and 103 points in just 47 games!!

Gilbert persevered through the freak injury and reached his goal of playing in the NHL with the New York Rangers by 1962-63. For his persistence he would be given the Masterton Memorial Trophy late in his career.

His start actually happened in the spring of 1962. Forward Ken Schinkel had broken his toe and was unable to continue in the Rangers playoff series with the Maple Leafs. Gilbert was called up and played on a line with Dave Balon and Johnny Wilson, and impressed with 2 goals, both in his first game, and 5 points in 4 games, although the Rangers would ultimately lose the series. Gilbert's postseason impression though was enough to keep him in the city that never sleeps for the next 18 wonderful years!.

Gilbert teamed with Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield to form that GAG (goal a game) line, one of the most feared threesomes in hockey history. Gilbert and Ratelle had played together since they were 10 years old. Gilbert lived next door to the esteemed Brothers of Sacred Heart school where Ratelle, a gifted student, was enrolled. Playing shinny and keep-away on the frozen ponds of the school grounds, the two immediately formed a friendship and hockey tandem that was clearly something special.

"When I first saw (Ratelle) on the ice, I said, 'You play with me all the time, okay?' We started playing peewee and played in the finals at a tournament in the Montreal Forum when we were twelve years old," recalls Gilbert with a grin.

The Rangers were impressed by Gilbert at the early age of 14.

A man named Yvon Prud'homme invited me to play senior hockey with men in their late-twenties. We played for the Allan Cup. I was just fourteen. This man, Yvon Prud'homme, had been hired by the New York Rangers to start a competitive Junior B league in Montreal. When he signed me, I told him, 'I have a friend I've been playing with since I was a kid and he's better than me. Sign him up and we'll play together.' He signed Jean Ratelle without ever seeing him play."

Clearly it was the best thing that had happened in Manhattan's hockey landscape since the days of Lester Patrick and Boucher and the Cook brothers.

"When I got to New York, the Rangers were in last place. We were re-building," states Rod

But soon the franchise began to make some pro-active moves. Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney were traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964-65, bringing Rod Seiling, Arnie Brown, Bob Nevin and Dickie Duff to Broadway. Later, Emile Francis secured Eddie Giacomin for goal. The team drafted Brad Park, too. Then, Gilbert and Ratelle found the winger they needed to form one of the most explosive forward lines in NHL history - the GAG Line (Goal A Game).

"Jean and I needed somebody to go to the front of the net and hold his ground. Emile Francis decided that Vic Hadfield was the guy. Vic had a very short fuse. He was a tough guy; very robust. He established himself well in front (of the net) and could shake himself loose from the defense. The two of us (Ratelle and Gilbert) got him the puck and he scored fifty goals one year (1971-72). By being in front and yelling for the puck, Vic developed really good scoring skills."

In 1971-72 the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup final, Gilbert's one and only shot at a league championship. However Bobby Orr's Boston Bruins were too powerful for the arch-rivals from New York.

"Boston acquired Phil Esposito from Chicago and this young kid that came out of Oshawa named Bobby Orr. They picked up Gerry Cheevers and soon Boston and New York were one and two in the standings," recalls Rod. "We were supposed to win the Stanley Cup in '71, '72 and '73. We had a really good team but Bobby Orr made the difference between the two of us. Boston won two Cups instead of the Rangers. What a rivalry we had! We were very close in talent."

That 1971-72 season was magical for the GAG line. Vic Hadfield topped the 50 goal mark, while Ratelle and Gilbert most likely would have as well, but both were felled with injuries late in the season, causing them to miss time and the magical 50 goal mark. Imagine that - all three members of a forward line scoring 50 goals!

"That was the best team I ever played for and it showed. Jean Ratelle led in scoring even though he played in only 63 games. Vic Hadfield was second on the club and we were strong up and down the line, from Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure in goal, to Brad Park, Dale Rolfe and Rod Seiling on defense. Fellows like Walt Tkaczuk, Billy Fairbairn and Peter Stemkowski gave us tremendous balance."

Gilbert was also member of Team Canada during the legendary September 1972 Summit Series versus the former Soviet Union. He helped his country win one of the greatest hockey series of the century.

"The biggest moment was when we won Game Eight. I made the play to Bill White to tie the score at three-all. And then we got the win and that was exhilarating, emotional and very satisfying."

"Yvan Cournoyer told me, 'I would give up all my Stanley Cups for that one experience.' Of all the Cups he won, that was his biggest thrill; his biggest accomplishment. That win with Team Canada in 1972 was my Stanley Cup."

Gilbert went on to compete for the Rangers until the 1977-78 season. Over his 18-year career, Gilbert recorded 406 goals, 615 assists and 1,021 points in 1,065 regular season games. In 79 playoff games, he collected 34 goals and 67 points. He set or equaled 20 team scoring records and when he retired in 1977, he trailed only one other right winger (Gordie Howe) in total points.

While the Stanley Cup is the goal of every hockey player, only a select few get to sip champagne from it. It was not in Rod Gilbert's destiny to win the Cup, but that in no way should diminish the contributions he made to the game of hockey.

"I would have loved to have played on a Stanley Cup winner; that's for sure. But I had my share of thrills and, in a lot of ways, I was very lucky guy considering my dream of making the NHL and being able to do what I did with all those back problems."

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, Gilbert was a fan favorite in New York, and is often considered to be the greatest New York Ranger in the team's long history. Given the competition such as Frank Boucher in the early days and Mark Messier in the current era, that is a fascinating feat on its own.

"Rod Gilbert was our Wayne Gretzky, or our Bobby Hull, or our Rocket Richard," said Emile Francis.