There were some extremely high expectations placed upon Brad Maxwell's shoulders as a junior hockey star with the New Westminster Bruins.
Drafted 7th overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1977 Maxwell was a key figure in coach Punch McLean's legendary junior team in the suburb of Vancouver The team also boasted Barry Beck, Stan Smyl, Mark Lofthouse and John Ogrodnick, but, aside from power play point partner Beck, it was Brad who earned the highest praise.
One report even mentioned Maxwell in comparisons to the incredible Bobby Orr. What Orr did for the Boston Bruins Maxwell did for the New West Bears. He was able to control the flow of the game single-handedly. He was a fine rushing defenseman, but also, like the rest of coach McLean's team, a tough as nails player as well.
"We definitely had a big team," recalled Maxwell, "and we were very tough. But I don't think we were goons. Thinking back over all the hockey games I've played in, and all the game I've watched, I've never seen anybody hurt bad in a fight. We did a lot of fighting in those years, but it was because Ernie (Punch McLean) foresaw the changing scene. He knew that big tough players were the next NHLers and that's how built his great teams."
Appearances in the Memorial Cup were the norm for the Bruins of the late 1970s. Maxwell played a huge role in the 1977 Championship. He scored an exciting end to end goal against the Ottawa 67's to clinch the Bruins victory in the final game.
Aside from Maxwell's strength and aggressiveness, Brad was actually more of a skill player. He possessed and extremely hard and accurate shot from the point and was an excellent puck carrier - though he lacked the speed to dominate at the NHL level. He was particularly effective on the point of a power play where he played the role of "quarterback."
Maxwell would go on to play in 10 big league seasons, 8 with the North Stars and the last two bouncing around with Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver and New York Rangers while battling a nagging hamstring injury. The highlight of his career had to be the 1981 Cinderella run at the Stanley Cup which fell just short while still a member of the Stars.
Maxwell never really achieved expectations in the NHL. Only one season, 1983-84, did he put up great numbers when he scored 19 goals and 73 points. But injuries nagged Maxwell throughout his career. And in the era of Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque, Maxwell's fine play was often unappreciated. But he was one of the upper class defensemen in his day too.
All in all he was a standout junior player, and a pretty good NHLer. He is a strong candidate for the best defenseman in Minnesota North Stars history.
Brad scored 98 times while assisting on 270 others in his 612 NHL games. He spent 1292 minutes in the penalty box. Brad was a key player in the playoffs as well - upping his play and his stats. He scored 12 goals and 61 points (plus 178 PIM) in 79 career playoff contests. He remained in Minnesota following retirement, first working as a salesman for a brick and building supply company before becoming a cabinet maker.
Brad has some interesting family relations. He is the son of former junior star and legendary junior coach and manager Ron Maxwell, a minor leaguer best known for coaching the Brandon Wheat Kings and Victoria Cougars. However he was not related to former Minnesota North Star teammate Bryan Maxwell. His sister Rhonda married one time NHLer Rick Lapointe.