November 01, 2015

Nick Libett

Nick Libett enjoyed a lengthy NHL career. He broke in with the Detroit Red Wings following expansion in 1967. He spent the next 12 years in the Motor City. The Wings were a particularly bad hockey team for much of the 1970s, but Libett was one of the few bright spots.

"I've always been known as a defensive player, but I've got almost 250 goals in the the National Hockey League, which isn't bad for a defensive player" Libett points out.

Born in the same Ontario town as the great Howie Morenz, Libett was never confused with the Stratford Streak. But he did have some good numbers. 6 times he scored better than 20 goals, including a career high 31 in 1971-72. He was a consistent player on a consistently bad team for basically his entire career.

In the summer of 1979, Detroit traded their long time left winger to Pittsburgh for Peter Mahovlich. It was a tough transition for Libett at first.

"Its tough having played all your career and all of a sudden you don't play much. Mentally you have to adjust and I think I have adjusted to my new role. I think my role is to help out the younger kids. If somebody's having trouble playing left wing and I can help them, I will try the best I can."

Being a team leader was not a natural thing for Libett.

"I've never considered myself a team leader. I think the fact that I have played 14 years in the NHL, maybe some of the younger guys do look at that as a leadership quality."

Over those 14 years, Libett saw a lot of changes in the NHL.

"The major difference when I first broke in is there were few young guys on the team - most of the guys were late 20s or early 30s. Now, its just the opposite - there are very few older guys, most of the guys are 25 and under." Libett commented.

"Its almost tougher to play in the National Hockey League today for a long period of time then it was when I broke in. There are so many guys you played junior with that are the same age, that are as tough as you are, that are constantly testing you. Its tough to play 10 or 15 years in the type of atmosphere."

Libett was smart and prepared for life after hockey a long time before he was willing to hang up the skatesd.

"I had 12 good years in Detroit and my friends are there and there are good business opportunities. I sell automotive industrial parts in bulk quantities in the Detroit area during the off seasons."

1 comment:

Graham Clayton said...

Libett survived a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the late 1980’s.