October 03, 2015

Dwight Foster

In the 1982 NHL draft the Boston Bruins picked Gord Kluzak first overall, surprising a few by not selecting Brian Bellows.

But the Bruins did not finish last the previous season. So just how did the Boston Bruins end up with the top pick?

Let's let Howard Ulman, an Associated Press writer back in 1982, tell us.

"With the deft touch of an alchemist, Harry Sinden has worked his magic. Now he's waiting to see if a pot of gold lies at the end of the season.

"Boston's general manager let Colorado have Dwight Foster, and Foster is having his worst National Hockey League seasons since he began playing frequently in 1978-79.

"In return, the Bruins boss moved to the head of the NHL draft line."

Ullman may have exaggerated Sinden's alchemist skills. His hand was actually forced into making the deal when the Colorado Rockies signed Foster as a free agent in the summer of 1981.

Foster, the Bruins 16th overall pick in 1977, had just come off his best season of four seasons with the Bruins. He scored 24 goals and 52 points while centering an effective line with the exciting Rick Middleton and tough Stan Jonathan.

Foster's signing was eligible for compensation under the NHL free agency rules of the day. Sinden successfully negotiated a return of Colorado's second round pick plus the option of switching first round picks.

They did just that, selecting Kluzak with the first overall pick and Brian Curran in the second round. Colorado, who had relocated to New Jersey to become the Devils in 1982, ended up with Ken Daneyko.

Hobbled by injuries, Foster just never worked out with the Rockies/Devils organization. He scored just 12 goals and 31 points in Colorado, and barely played in New Jersey (just four games) before being traded to Detroit, reportedly for $1.

The fantastically bearded Foster found his game in Detroit, with David Fink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calling him "the comeback player of the year." Maybe Fink spoke too early. Foster had an impressive 12 goals and 12 assists in the first 30 games. But injuries would come back to haunt him, as he finished playing in only 58 games with 17 goals and 39 points.

Foster played three more seasons in Detroit, never being healthy enough to play more than 60 games as shoulder and knee injuries kept recurring. He returned to Boston for a season and a half, but never did re-emerge as a scoring threat he once promised to be.

In 511 NHL games he scored 111 goals, 163 assists and 274 points.

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