July 13, 2013

Jim Fox

Despite being considered too small to play in the National Hockey League, the Los Angeles Kings thought better of Jimmy Fox. They were rewarded for their insight with a productive though largely unnoticed career on Hockey's Californian coast.

Fox stood just 5'8" though was built solidly at 185lbs. Despite his lack of size the Kings drafted the right winger 10th overall in the 1980 Entry Draft following 3 straight 100 plus point seasons in the OHA. In his final year with the Ottawa 67s, he led the entire league with 101 assists and 166 points plus 65 goals in just 52 games! There was no doubt that Fox knew what to do with the puck.

Fox turned pro in 1980-81 and had a respectable rookie season - scoring 18 times and picking up 43 points. Over the following 4 years he became a consistent 30 goal threat and 70 point scorer. He topped out in 1984-85 when he had a career high 53 assists and 83 points.

Following that season injuries and an infusion of younger talent like Jimmy Carson and Luc Robitaille began to slow Fox's production. He dipped to the 50-60 point plateau, and never scored 20 goals in a season again, coming close in 86-87 with 19.

Fox blew out his knee which cost him the entire 1988-89 season, which was unfortunate. That was Wayne Gretzky's first year in La-La-Land, and with Fox's speed he may have been a good match on The Great One's right side.

That knee injury eventually forced Fox to retire for good. He played in 11 games in 1989-90 but had to hang up the blades after that failed comeback attempt.

Fox was a very good skater, blessed with speed and a low center of gravity. That made him hard to knock off the puck despite his size. In fact, his size never really hampered Fox. He was pretty effective in the corners and along the boards despite being half a foot smaller than his opponents. And his great finesse skills made him even more valuable, as once he retrieved the loose puck he was able to do something with it in order to create a scoring chance.

Offensively Fox saw the ice very well, although he probably passed the puck a bit too much for his coaches liking. He was also pretty predictable in that he would cross the blue line and then pull up while his teammates jumped ahead of him into the offensive zone. As for goal scoring, Fox possessed a deadly wrist shot, but most of his goals came from in close.

Defensively Fox was pretty good too. He was very conscious of his defensive duties and used his above average anticipation skills to his advantage. He was used more and more as a defensive forward as his career wound down.

All in all, Jim Fox was a nice player. Its too bad his knee injury cut his career short just as better days were ahead in Los Angeles.

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