Skip to main content

Danny Lawson

Many hockey fans are too young to remember the WHA. Ex-player Pat Hickey had a good comparison between the WHA and the NHL.

"I used to always say the NHL teams had 21 NHL players on their roster and the WHA had anywhere from 12 to 14 NHL quality players on their roster" explained Hickey.

In essence the WHA was seen by many as a glorified minor league. Aside from NHL veterans like Bobby Hull, Gerry Cheevers and Derek Sanderson and many underaged junior stars like Wayne Gretzky many of the WHA's stars were players who couldn't cut it at the NHL level, but blossomed in the WHA. Danny Lawson was one of them.

Danny was a journeyman right winger for 5 NHL seasons before signing with the WHA's Philadelphia (later Vancouver) Blazers. A junior product of the Detroit Red Wings the 5'11" 180lb right winger from Toronto would also play with the Minnesota North Stars and Buffalo Sabres from 1967 to 1972. In that time he was used sparingly at times, scoring 28 goals and 29 assists for 57 points in 219 games.

"Until I got to Buffalo, I really wasn't getting much ice time, Danny said. "At least in Buffalo, I was out there playing. It was as a checker, playing on a line aimed at stopping the other team's big line. For example, I had to play a lot against players like Bobby Hull and Frank Mahovlich."

When he joined the Blazers in 1972 he became an instant WHA hit. Playing along side super-skilled though diminutive Andre Lacroix, another former NHLer who couldn't quite do the same things in NHL as he did in the WHA. Danny became the first WHA player to reach the 50-goal plateau on January 22,1973 in Ottawa and he eventually led the league in goals with 61. He added 45 assists for 106 points. Remember he had only 28 goals and 57 points in over 200 NHL games !

"I always felt I could score goals," Danny explained. "I knew it would be a lot tougher putting the puck in the net in the pros, and for some reason I had my problems scoring when I first got out of junior hockey. Actually, I felt it was a case of the coach and general manager losing their confidence in me as a goal scorer. When people like that lose confidence in you, It's tough to retain confidence in yourself."

"When I first came to Philadelphia with the WHA, I had to weigh a lot of factors. One was that I honestly felt, with the personnel Philly had, It certainly did have a chance to go all the way. That was something I never was lucky enough to be part of since I became a professional," Danny said.

"When I came to Philly, I wasn't strictly relegated to defense. I was out there to score goals, too. So I had to change my entire outlook. I had to get my all-around hockey sense back, not just concentrate on defense."

"Well, once those first few goals started going in, my whole outlook had changed. I was confident again. No longer was I going downhill as a one-way hockey player. What happened to me happens to a lot of hockey players. When I started scoring my confidence had gone sky high."

Danny's production dipped the next season as Lacroix did not accompany Danny and the Blazers to their new home in Vancouver. Danny still managed to score 50 goals without him though.

Danny would play three more years in the WHA, also seeing time with the Calgary Cowboys and the Winnipeg Jets. The glory days were behind him but he was a consistent performer. He never scored less than 30 goals in a single season. in 392 WHA games he scored 218 goals, the 8th highest total in WHA history. He added 204 assists for 422 career points.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M