December 19, 2011
Shoebox Memories: Rod Seiling
This Rod Seiling hockey card is O-Pee-Chee card #71 from 1968. It is not his rookie card (that came out in the 1964-65 season) but I am a big fan of this 1968 set with the fake, colorless background and the contrasting highlighted featured player.
Now coming out of junior, Seiling was a heck of a player. Coach Emile Francis, a contagiously enthusiastic speaker, once said "the prize of all our defensemen is Rod Seiling and he's only 20. He can be great. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if he becomes another Doug Harvey."
Wow - now that is high praise. Many people still consider Harvey to be the 2nd greatest defenseman to ever play the game, behind Bobby Orr. And more than a few lingering old timers would give Harvey the edge over Orr in that debate.
Seiling never did quite enter that echelon of hockey stardom. But he was a quality blue liner for 11 seasons in Manhattan.
Seiling was a finesse defenseman at heart, which was not always a good thing in New York. The Rangers fans notoriously favored rough and tumble hockey players, especially on the back end. They hounded Hockey Hall of Famers Allan Stanley and Harry Howell with choruses of boos because they were rambunctious enough back there.
Seiling made the most of us his first impressions with the Rangers faithful. He was of good size, though he never had the inclination to be a true bruiser. But he would hit to make a play, like he famously did on his first shift in his first game. He slammed Chicago great Pierre Pilote with a thunderous and clean hit, earning many cheers from those in attendance at Madison Square Gardens that night. Such hits may have been rare by Seiling, but the boos never did come for #16.
Best known for his defensive game rather than his offense, similar to a contemporary player like Teppo Numminen. Seiling scored 50 goals and 248 points in 644 games with the Rangers. He later moved on to play Washington, Toronto, St. Louis and Atlanta, upping his NHL career totals to 979 games played with 62 goals and 331 points.
Seiling was never an All Star or a threat for the Norris Trophy, but he was invited to Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series. It was thought Seiling would be a valuable asset against the Soviets, as he was one of the few NHL players to have previously played them. Seiling previously played in the Olympics as an amateur in 1964. However Seiling was ineffective against the Soviets of '72, and dressed for only three contests.