May 29, 2015

Willie Marshall

Willie Marshall only played in 33 NHL games, scoring just one goal and five assists. No, he hardly made a mark in his National Hockey League career. But in the American Hockey League he ranks as one of the all time greats.

Willie "The Whip" was a dangerous sniper and clever playmaker in 20 seasons in the AHL. He retired as AHL's most prolific scorer in history, finishing the league’s all-time leader in games played (1,205), goals (523), assists (852) and points (1,375), as well as hat tricks (25) and Calder Cup Playoff assists (71) and points (119). Marshall also won three Calder Cup championships.

So why did he never stick in four attempts with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

"Remember that for the most part of my career, there were only six teams in the NHL and competition was pretty tough. You just didn't go in and make an NHL team."

As a result, Marshall felt the difference between the NHL and AHL in those days was minimal.

"Because some teams were so stockpiled with talent from the parent team in the NHL, they could go two or three seasons of playing good, competitive hockey before using some of that talent. In fact, there were some players who were good enough to play in the NHL but never really got the chance and ended up spending most of their careers in the AHL."

Marshall is very proud of his scoring records, and the fact the he is one of only two players to participate in 20 AHL seasons.

"Longevity wasn't so strange in any of the minors back in the days I played. There weren't that many of us that stayed around, but those of us that did made the most of it.

"I enjoyed playing hockey and life for me wasn't so bad in the AHL."

Of all the scoring records, Marshall is most proud of the 523 career AHL goals.

"That record means a lot to me, especially in light of the fact of how the structure of the game is today. I think that is a record that is going stand for a long time because you aren't going to find players playing 20 years in the minors any more.

Marshall actually played his 20th season specifically to catch Fred Glover's record of 522 career goals.

"At the beginning of my final season I was only a couple of goals short of breaking Glover's record. But nobody in the NHL wanted me. Finally Rochester took a chance on me and I played for the Amerks as a utility player. It took me quite awhile during that final season to break the record, only playing a few shifts at a time.

"But I finally broke it by one. I struggled to do it. I missed so many times, hitting posts and crossbars. But I'm glad I did it. It will stand for a long time. I know I'll never see it broke. Maybe no one else will either."

In 2004 the AHL honoured Marshll by naming a trophy for most goals in the regular season after him.

1 comment:

sd said...

I thought then it could be interesting to mention this clip of his AHL Hall Of Fame induction.