August 30, 2013

Dean Talafous

Dean Talafous was a skilled right-winger who played nearly 500 NHL games in the 1970s and 80s. A big man at 6'4" he used his frame to create space for himself in the slot and win battles for the puck along the boards.

Talafous played three years at the University of Wisconsin, where he was a legend. He was chosen 53rd overall by the Atlanta Flames at the 1973 Amateur Draft after helping the Badgers win the NCAA title. Talafous was named the championship tournament MVP and placed on the all-tournament team. He scored with five seconds left in regulation and then added overtime goal that gave Wisconsin a 6-5 victory over Cornell in 1973 NCAA Tournament semifinals, and then scored the game-winning goal to beat Denver in 1973 NCAA Tournament championship game.

"I was very fortunate to have been recruited and then offered a scholarship to play for the Badgers. Our coach was the legendary Bob Johnson . Bob had a big impact on my life. He was a firm believer in developing the skills of the individual player in his practices . This emphasis helped me develop into an NHL player. He also believed that in all situations win or lose you could always find something positive. He kept the game fun and kept the confidence of each player high. What a privilege to have played for him."

The talented forward played 18 games for Atlanta in 1974-75 before he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars. He spent three and a half years with Minny and played for the United States at the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976.

In 1976-77, he scored a career-high 22 goals while forming a solid line with Glen Shapley and Jim Roberts.

In July 1978, Talafous signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers. He was a steady defensive player and penalty kicker for parts of four seasons with the club. Unfortunately a pinched nerve in his neck kept him out of the 1979 Rangers run to the Stanley Cup final.

For Dean, getting a chance to play for coach Fred Shero was the highlight of playing in New York.

"What I remember most and treasure most was playing for coach Fred Shero. For most of my pro career I had coaches who coached out of fear. Fred was different. He knew what he was looking for in a player and once he found it he let you know that he trusted you and you could trust him. He was a man of few words but when he spoke you knew what he said was well thought out and gave the team the best chance to win. He was a genius."

Shero once said of Talafous, "I always knew he was a good player. What I don't know is why I don't play him more. Maybe it's because he was so quiet. I know he's not going to complain so that makes me think I can get away with murder. It's not fair, though. I know that."

Talafous played in the 1981 Canada Cup but retired in 1982 rather than report to Quebec following a trade to the Nordiques. A NHL arbitrator awarded Pat Hickey to the Nordiques as compensation.

Talafous has spent his post-playing days mostly coaching

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