June 09, 2006

Tim Young

The Minnesota North Stars had a lot of talent in their day, particularly at center ice where the likes of Neal Broten, Bobby Smith and Mike Modano once roamed. Another top notch center in North Stars history has to be Tim Young. Young's best years were played mostly in the late 1970s for the Stars. He was quickly overshadowed by Smith and Broten, but was always a key player.

Tim Young was an offensive wizard, particularly because of his playmaking ability. He was a swift skater and deft puck handler as well as a an accurate shooter, but playmaking was his forte. He was an excellent specialty teams player as he was a good penalty killer and was also often used on the point of the North Stars power play. In fact Tim even played a few shifts here and there on defense while at regular strength when injuries depleted the Stars lineup.

Tim was born in Scarborough Ontario and played his junior hockey with the Ottawa 67s where he is forever a legend. In his final season of junior he played in 70 games and scored 56 goals and collected an amazing 107 assists for an impressive 163 points!

Those offensive numbers made him an attractive pick in the 1975 Entry draft. The Los Angeles Kings selected the 6'1" 190lb right hander with the 16th overall selection.

Young didn't last long in the Los Angeles though. Two weeks later he was traded to Minnesota as the Kings felt they couldn't get young signed to a contract. They ended up trading him to Minnesota for a second round pick in 1976 Entry Draft.

It was a great trade for Minnesota. Tim stepped in and played respectably in his rookie season - scoring 18 goals and gathering 51 points in 63 games. But he exploded in year two, 1976-77, when he set a then-Minnesota North Stars team record for points with 95. He scored 29 goals and added a career high 66 assists to create the record.

Young would slip from that lofty level which saw him play in the all star game the following years though. He scored just 58 and then 56 points the following two years, respectively. This is due in large part to the arrival of Bobby Smith in Minnesota. The highly touted Smith (who outscored Wayne Gretzky in junior hockey) was almost given the number one center's job in Minnesota, meaning Young didn't get the ice time that he did in his record setting year. Though his scoring totals were down, he was still held in high regard by the Stars and the entire league.

In 1979-80 Young enjoyed his finest year since his record year when he scored 31 goals (then a record for goals by a center in Minnesota) and 74 points. 5 of his goals came in one game against the New York Rangers in mid January, setting a record for most goals by a Star in one game. A key reason for his resurgence was a broken ankle suffered by Smith which meant for 19 games Young was the number one guy again.

1980-81 was perhaps the greatest if not most surprising moment in North Stars history - their Cinderella run to the 1981 Stanley Cup finals. After scoring 25 goals and 66 points in the regular season, Young upped his play in the playoffs when he was teamed with super rookie Dino Ciccarelli with 3 goals and 14 assists in 12 games as the Stars fell just short of the championship. Perhaps one of the reasons the Stars fell short was that Tim hurt his knee late in the playoffs.

However the Stars quickly plummeted after their fine playoff showing. Young had a bad year to follow up his fine playoff as well. He broke his ankle in the summertime while playing softball and miss most of the first half of the season. Although he scored 10 goals and 41 points in 49 games that season, he never really got untracked and struggled like the rest of the team.

Young was mostly healthy for the 1982-83 season but his offensive stats were down. He scored 18 goals and 53 points in 70 games. The North Stars began looking to move Tim and did so in the off-season by trading him to Winnipeg for Craig Levie and Tom Ward.

Tim's career pretty much fizzled out at that point, due to injuries. He played parts of the 1983-84 season with Winnipeg before being moved to Philadelphia in 1984-85, although he finished his career in the minor leagues.

Tim was one of the better players in his prime, and its too bad he's been forgotten about by most of the fans nowadays.

"Tim Young has a world of talent," once said his former coach Glen Somnor. "He can do almost anything he puts his mind to do on a hockey rink."

It was true, and its too bad his career ended prematurely. He ended his career with 628 games played, many in a quietly spectacular form. He scored 195 career goals and 341 career assists for 536 points.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Bobby Smith didn't join the North Stars until 1978-79, so there must have been another reason for Young's decline in scoring in 1977-78. Also, his five-goal game at Madison Square Garden occurred in the 1978-79 season (January 15, 1979).