July 14, 2013

Ken Hodge

This is Ken Hodge, a great member of the Boston Bruins who could never seem to win over the Boston Gardens faithful, or his Boston coaches.

The British born superstar played in 881 games, scoring 328 goals, 472 assists and 800 points. He formed a special connection with the great Phil Esposito, serving as his RW during the team's great seasons in the 1970s. Hodge is often overlooked in comparison to Espo, Bobby Orr, Derek Sanderson and Wayne Cashman on that team, but the two time all star was a key component of that offensive juggernaut to be sure.

The problem with the fans was that they always expected more out of Hodge. When he arrived in Boston via Chicago he was one of the biggest men in hockey at 6'2" and 215lbs. They wanted him to use every ounce of muscle to bang away the opposition, but that was never really in Hodge's make up. He tried to fill that role, but he was much more successful as an offensive forward on Boston's top line.

As more success came, so did more criticism. He worked tirelessly to improve his skating so he could skate on that top line with Espo and Cash, and it paid off with seasons of 45, 43 and 50 goals, not to mention Stanley Cup championships in 1970 and 1972. Consistency was never a friend of Hodge's though, leading to more boo birds. He followed up monster years with below average campaigns.

Hodge tried his best to shrug off the criticism from fans and media, but coach/manager Harry Sinden was also always on his case, as was subsequent coach Don Cherry. The two didn't get along too well with each other, which led to Hodge's departure to the New York Rangers in 1976.

That trade proved to be one of the most lopsided in NHL history. Hodge played just 96 more games in the NHL, while the Bruins received a young Rick Middleton, who would star with the team for over a decade to come.

Interestingly, Ken Hodge's son, Ken Hodge Jr., also would play for the Boston Bruins. The acrimonious relationship with the fans was non existent for his son, fortunately.

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