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November 04, 2009

Wayne Muloin

Wayne Muloin had a long minor league career before earning a regular spot in the NHL.

He played for the Edmonton Flyers (WHL) and Edmonton Oil Kings (CAHL) between 1960-63. During the 1963-64 season Wayne played for Detroit Red Wings farm team, the Cincinnati Wings (CHL). Wayne had 15 points and 169 Pims.

His fine aggressive play got him his first shot at the NHL. He made his NHL debut at the Chicago Stadium on January 29, 1964, where his Red Wings battled to a 2-2 tie. He only dressed for two more Red Wings games, a 9-2 loss to Montreal (Feb.1) and a 2-2 tie vs Toronto (Feb.2). Wayne registered one assist in the three games.

During the summer of 1964 he was acquired by NY Rangers. Wayne spent the entire 1964-65 season playing for the St.Paul Rangers (CHL). Wayne then continued with his minor league stint, playing for the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL (1965-66) and four seasons for the Providence Reds (AHL) between 1965-68. It looked like Wayne was destined to finish his career in the minor leagues. Then came training camp 1969.

Wayne remembered the time.

"Oakland Seals invited me to camp and I decided to play it really aggressive," Wayne recalled. " I racked up guys like Carol Vadnais and Mike Laughton woth some good hits and they had to keep me around."

The 28-year old Wayne had finally earned a regular spot on a NHL team on the basis of his hard-nosed style of play. His offensive skills were negligible though. Wayne was a hitter from the old school typified by belters like Leo Boivin. Wayne wasn't in the same class as Boivin when it came to hitting but his low built allowed him to get low when he was throwing a check which many times lifted the opponents in the air. Wayne was a capable puckhandler but had a really weak shot. Something that Wayne was very aware of.

"We were in Philadelphia one night early in the 69-70 season and for some reason, I was on the powerplay," Wayne recalled. " I wound up to take a shot from the left point and Flyers defenseman Ed Van Impe slid in front of me at the last second. I don't know what Ed was thinking, but my weak shot hit him right in the mouth and messed him up pretty badly. It was an awful sight - blood was everywhere - but Ed got patched up and came back for the third period. He was a tough old bird."

The shot by Wayne knocked out six of Van Impe's teeth, which was exactly double the number of goals Wayne managed to score in 158 NHL games (11 of them in the playoffs).

Wayne vividly remembered the 1970-71 season when the eccentric Charles O.Finley purchased Oakland and re-named it the California Golden Seals.

"Boy was he a character," Wayne said. " He made us wear those stupid white skates and everywhere we played, the fans would blow kisses at us. It was kind of humiliating. I also remember the time he bought a bunch of chimpanzees out on the ice in Oakland for a penalty shot contest early in the season. I knew we were in for a rough year when one of the chimps scored on Gary Smith."

Wayne was right. The California team ended up with the NHL's worst record (20-53-5). In March 1971 Wayne was traded to Minnesota. He only played 7 games for them during the regular season and 7 more in the playoffs.

In 1971-72 he was back in the minors again where he captained the Cleveland Barons (AHL). In August 1972 Wayne signed with the Cleveland Crusaders of the newly formed WHA. He spent four solid seasons on the Crusaders blueline, scoring his most memorable goal for the team. Wayne scored the final goal in the Cleveland Arena - the 9,500 seat rink at Euclid and 33rd St.

" It was an overtime goal in the 1974 playoffs against Toronto Toros. I leaned into a shot from outside the blueline and it went past Gilles Gratton. We went back to Toronto two nights later and lost the series. The next year, we moved into the brand new Richfield Coliseum" Wayne said.

Wayne was traded to the Edmonton Oilers (WHA) in January,1976 but only played 10 games for the Oilers. He played a total of 258 WHA games (10 goals and 43 assists). Wayne's last active season was in 1976-77 when he played for the Rhode Island Reds (AHL).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There were a ton of guys who played in the WHA and went on to lucrative careers in the NHL. George Pesut from Saskatoon played for the Seals in the early days, but couldn't turn it into a successful NHL career. On the other hand, players like Morris Lukowich (another player from Saskatoon) started out in the WHA with Houston and went on to a career in the NHL with over 300 games.

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