August 27, 2014

1969-70: Ted Green Nearly Dies After Stick Fight

The Three Stars:

Ted Green Nearly Dies: Boston defenseman Terrible Ted Green, no stranger to altercations and rough-housing, suffers a life-threatening skull fracture during a pre-season stick fight with St. Louis forward Wayne Maki. Green would miss the entire season and suffered from temporary paralysis but would eventually return. Both players were charged with assault with attempt to injure, though each, in separate trials, were acquitted. Maki was suspended for 30 days. Green was also suspended for 13 games.

Briere Dies In Car Crash: Pittsburgh's first young star was a fellow named Michel Briere. In his rookie season he scored 32 assists and 44 points and showed signs of stardom. However on April 13th, 1971 Briere suffered fatal injuries in a car crash. His number 21 was retired.

Orr Powers Bruins To Stanley Cup: Bobby Orr became the first defenseman to not only score over 100 points but he also became the only defenseman in history to win the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champion! He finished with 120 points including 87 assists, and won the Art Ross, Norris and Hart trophies. He then earned the Conn Smythe trophy as playoffs MVP as the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 29 years by sweeping the St. Louis Blues. Of course it was Orr who famously scored the Stanley Cup winning goal just 40 seconds into overtime.

Season Highlights:
  • Phil Esposito also had a strong season for Boston, leading the league in goals with 43 (including 18 on the power play) and finishing second in the league (behind Orr) in assists (56) and points (99). He actually outscored Orr in the playoffs (27 vs 20).
  • Phil's younger brother has quite the rookie season in Chicago. Goaltender Tony Esposito leads the entire league in wins with 38 and posts a modern-day record 15 shutouts.
  • Much Hull-abaloo is made when younger brother Dennis Hull replaces old man Bobby Hull on Chicago's top line (with Stan Mikita and Cliff Koroll). Dennis, who scored 30 goals the year before, ended up with only 17. Meanwhile Bobby made himself at home with new linemates Pit Martin and Jim Pappin and scored 38 goals (only Esposito, Garry Unger and Mikita scored more league wide) despite missing 15 games to a broken jaw! Hull also joined Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe as the third player to score 500 goals in a career.
  • Poor Brad Park. The New York Rangers defenseman continues to dominate unlike most defensemen before him, but he never gets the credit because of Bobby Orr's presence. In his second season Park finishes with 37 points and is runner up to Orr in Norris Trophy balloting. Park would be runner an amazing six times, and never did win the Norris.
  • Another defenseman with a strong year was Carol Vadnais, who scored 24 goals and helped the Oakland Seals get into the playoffs.
  • Minnesota's Bill Goldsworthy was a hard-nosed player who went from a 14 goal scorer to a 36 goal scorer this season. He celebrated each goal with a special dance that was dubbed "the Goldy Shuffle"
  • The Philadelphia Flyers set a NHL record with 24 ties.

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