July 13, 2013

Ed Westfall

From the age of 17, Ed Westfall was being groomed by the Boston Bruins to become a defenseman. However he became best known as a defensive forward and leader at the NHL level.

Ed joined the Bruins junior affiliate, the OHA's Barrie Flyers in 1957, where he skated for 4 years learning the art of being a defensive defenseman. When he turned pro with the Bruins in 1961 he struggled for 3 years to find his groove as an NHL defenseman, and even served some minor league time in an attempt to get his confidence going.

When Ed was returned to the minors though, he had a surprise waiting for him by Kingston Frontenacs coach Harry Sinden. Harry used Westfall on right wing as opposed to defense. Being a defensive defenseman he naturally became a defensive specialist up front as well. He also produced nicely offensively, scoring 5 goals and 16 assists in 21 games.

By 1964-65, the struggling Boston Bruins promoted Westfall to right wing where he stayed for most of the rest of his career. With his strong defensive background he quickly established himself as a top defensive forward, combining intellect and speed to shut down the opposition's top gunners. Later on his career, the Bruins added a feisty face-off expert in Derek Sanderson. Sanderson centered Westfall as the two combined to be one of the greatest defensive checking units of all time. The two especially excelled as penalty killers, something that was very necessary on the old Big Bad Bruins teams.

Needless to say Westfall's hard work and self sacrifice helped the Bruins win two Stanley Cup championships. He also was able to chip in with some decent offense, averaging about 15 goals a season in his career. His career high was 25, which came in 1970-71 and later equaled in 1975-76.

Eddie was selected by the New York Islanders on June 6, 1972 in the expansion draft. He went on to serve admirably for the Isles, spending 7 seasons on Long Island. He was named the Islanders first ever Captain, and provided a large measure of leadership to a young Islander team that eventually led to four straight Stanley Cups. Unfortunately for Eddie, he retired at the end of the 1978-79 season, one year before the Isle's first Cup reign. Even though he doesn't have a championship title with the Islanders, his fingerprints are all over that dynastic team of the early 1980s. Westfall came from the Bruins and as the first Islanders captain installed high standards of professionalism and excellence that would serve the organization and its collection of incredible hockey players extremely well.

Eddie retired a veteran of 1220 games. Included in his career was 231 goals, 394 assists, 625 points and 4 appearances in NHL All Star games. He was also rewarded for his longevity and love of the game in 1977, when he was selected as the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner.

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