The Montreal Canadiens drafted Paul Woods 51st overall in the 1975 NHL Draft. He had just completed a strong season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, scoring 38 goals and 81 assists for 119 points in 62 games.
Woods would apprentice with the Canadiens farm team in Nova Scotia, winning the AHL Calder Cup championship in 1976 and 1977.
The Canadiens were in the midst of a Stanley Cup dynasty, and many of their top prospects never had a chance to crack the NHL line up in Montreal. The Habs risked losing him on the waiver wire. The Detroit Red Wings claimed him on the eve of the 1977-78 season. Montreal only got the mandatory $50,000 payment in return.
In his first season he showed promised with 19 goals and 42 points, playing alongside Dale McCourt and Bill Lochead. But he earned high praise and a new contract from the Wings for his tireless checking.
"I've got to play just the same as last season," Woods said. "It's the only way I can play in the NHL. I don't have an extraordinary shot, or extraordinary skills like some other players. I have to play hard all the time."
"I went a long way from where I was. When you're playing, there's not that much time to think about what's happening, I figured when the season is over, I'd sit down and savor it. But you can't. You have to work to get ready for next season. What you did last year wears off quickly."
Woods had a very realistic outlook on his hockey success. He never did quite duplicate his offensive numbers again, but he always hustled and earned the respect of his teammates and coaches.
"I enjoy playing defense and killing penalties," Woods said. "It's exciting to go out in a tight situation and check. We've got guys here who can score and we're getting more guys who can score.
"It's funny. In junior, I was known strictly as an offensive players. Shows you how much things can change."
A couple of interesting notes about Paul Woods. He ran a lawn maintenance business during his playing days, though he became a long time Red Wings broadcaster after hanging up the skates. He also competec in a NHL arm wrestling champion in Las Vegas in 1981!