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March 06, 2015

Dave Hoyda Passes Away

Proud Edmontonian Dave Hoyda who hustled all over the ice with the Spruce Grove Mets and Edmonton Oil Kings en route to the National Hockey League. But ultimately he had to leave the Alberta capital to achieve his dream.

In his draft year the entire Oil Kings franchise transferred to Portland, Oregon to play as the Winter Hawks in what is now known as the Western Hockey League. Wayne Babych and Larry Playfair were among his teammates, but Hoyda caught the eyes of scouts with 42 points and 220 penalty minutes in 61 games. He had a strong playoff with 7 goals in 10 games, but make no mistake it was his grit and toughness that was his ticket to the big leagues.

The Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) and hometown Edmonton Oilers (WHA) drafted Hoyda. Though it must have been tempting to go back home, he chose to sign with the Flyers and pursue the NHL dream.

After half a season of apprenticing in the minor leagues, Hoyda was dressing in Flyers orange. He got into 41 games that season, plus 9 more in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He scored just 1 goal (against Chicago star Tony Esposito, no less), and added 127 PIMs.

The Flyers Stanley Cup years were behind them at this point, but their mind set never changed. Intimidation was a big part of their game plan. Hoyda was following in the footsteps of the likes of Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, "Big Bird" Saleski, and Moose Dupont. Hoyda was joined by the not so friendly likes of Mel Bridgman and Paul Holmgren.

Hoyda played his only full NHL season 1978-79, playing 67 games. Often playing on a line with Ken Linseman and Dennis Vervegaert he scored just 3 goals, added 13 assists and totalled 138 more penalty minutes.

With Rick MacLeish increasingly play left wing plus the arrival of star rookie Brian Propp, Hoyda found himself getting squeezed out of the City of Brotherly Love. The Winnipeg Jets noted Hoyda's efforts and claimed him in the expansion draft of 1979.

Hoyda would only play in 24 more NHL games over the next two years with the Jets. He split much of his time in the minor leagues and in the infirmary, nursing knee injuries.

Hoyda passed away on February 8th, 2015 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The 57 year old never left Tulsa, where he hockey career ended with the CHL Oilers. He married a local girl, Gina, and worked in equipment sales for 20 years.

1 comment:

Zoe said...

Thank you for this.

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