August 05, 2015

Bob Blackburn

Bob Blackburn was a shot blocker-extraordinaire back in the days when not many players were as fearless about stepping in front of rubber bullets.

Blackburn was born in Rouyn, Quebec but moved with his family to the hockey factory known as Kirkland Lake, Ontario when he was eight years old. The move allowed him to play hockey with his cousin Dan. Both would make it to the National Hockey League one day.

Seven years after arriving in Northern Ontario, Blackburn was leaving home at the age of just 15 to chase hockey dreams. He joined the OHA's Barrie Flyers in 1956.

He would turn pro by the end of the decade. Of course this was the days of the Original Six in the National Hockey League. Teams usually used only five defensemen, too, which meant there was only 30 or so jobs for defensemen back then. Blackburn would have a lot of time to apprentice in the minor leagues.

"Blackie" would grow into a top defenseman with the Providence Reds of the AHL over a seven year stretch. By the time he joined the Buffalo Bisons in 1969 he was a first team all star on defense and was named as the Eddie Shore trophy winner as the league's top defenseman.

That finally opened some NHL doors for the veteran Blackburn. The New York Rangers gave him an eleven game look that same season. And he spent the 1969-70 and 1970-71 seasons playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In total Bob Blackburn played in 135 NHL contests, scoring eight goals and twelve assists. He was not the most mobile defender nor did he contribute a lot offensively. But he was a strong positional defender, blocking shots and using his stick to break up plays. He was aggressive but not to the point where he would take a lot of penalties.

In the expansion era Bob Blackburn probably would have been a solid depth defenseman for many NHL teams.


sd said...

If Bob Blackburn was 4 or 5 years longer, I wonder if he might had tried to jump to the WHA for a couple of additionnal seasons?

For the number of years Bob Blackburn was in the AHL, let's hope he'll be in the AHL Hall of fame.

Unknown said...

Daryl Sly and Gerry Ehman both belong in the AHL Fame.