December 06, 2013

Draft Bust Ray Martyniuk Passes Away

Goaltender Ray Martyniuk was the 5th overall draft pick in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft. He was the hometown puckstopper for the Flin Flon Bombers. That was the famous junior team which also featured Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach.

The Montreal Canadiens drafted Martyniuk but obviously never needed him, not with the emergence of Ken Dryden for the next decade. So the Habs buried him in the minor leagues. That's where he stayed for the entirety of his hockey career.

In fact Martyniuk - who was once labelled as a "can't miss kid" - never saw one minute of action in the NHL. He is the only top five NHL draft pick never to make it to the NHL.

Martyniuk was so highly regarded that he sought out an agent - still not a common practice in 1970 - to represent him. Not just any agent either. He signed up with high-profile agent Bob Woolf, who represented Boston sports legends John Havlicek of the NBA's Celtics and and Carl Yastrzemski of baseball's Red Sox.

It was a pretty amazing story for a kid who only started tending the net at the age of 14. He had always played as a forward before that. And he was ahead of his time as a true fitness freak. He ran marathons for fun.

But then in his very first NHL training camp he fell flat on his face - almost literally! He blamed it on his skates as he could not convince the trainer to sharpen his skates to his satisfaction. He quickly fell into coach Claude Ruel's dog house and was never to be seen again in Montreal.

Martyniuk played 11 pro seasons split between 11 pro teams and 4 pro leagues. He later retired to Cranbrook, British Columbia and worked for Coca Cola for many years. He also played senior hockey for a local team called the Royals.

Martyniuk was "a typical goalie" in that he was a pretty crazy character. He retired from the senior Royals by ordering the team bus to stop on a bridge. He proceeded to dump his goalie gear over the rails and into the lake below.

In recent years he had retired to Panama. He passed away on October 20th, 2013

1 comment:

St├ęphane Dumas said...

It's very sad then Ray Martyniuk didn't menaged to play a game in the NHL. We could wonder what if Ray had menaged to get to the WHA if things for him could had been different?