December 10, 2015

Ken Houston

Ken Houston certainly knew how to make a first impression.

As a rookie playing for the Atlanta Flames in 1975-76, Houston not only scored his first NHL goal, but celebrated by knocking out the NHL's most infamous goon of the era.

Houston had scored a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers, only to find the Broad Street Bullies trying to intimidate him immediately there after. Dave "The Hammer" Schultz led the parade.

Let's let Houston tell the rest of the story.

"It was right after I'd scored my first goal," recounts Houston. "He was my check and after the faceoff, we went back down into the Philly end and were buzzing the net.

"Play stopped and he seemed to take offence that I'd scored my first goal against him. There was a lot of yipping and pretty soon it was time to do something about it ... and the gloves were off."

The melee lasted for several minutes, and ended when Houston broke Schultz jaw with a punch.

"The linesmen started moving in between us and he was still yapping so I reached around and hit him again. I don't know if that's the one that did it or not."

That punch certainly gave Houston quite the reputation, but he was not really a true roughian by any means.

He patrolled his wing with the Flames, relocating with the franchise to Calgary in 1980. Six times he scored 20 goals, and he was regularly a threat for 50 plus points.

Not bad for a defenseman who turned into a forward at the NHL level.

"I was having trouble playing defense," Houston said in The Hockey News. "How the hell was I going to make it to the NHL playing a new position when I was struggling playing a position I had been at all my life?"

But Houston made the change, and the six-foot-two, 210 pounder from Chatham, Ontario became a NHL mainstay.

"My job is to get the puck out of the corner and get it to the scorers. And to get in the slot and cause some disturbance. That's where being a defenseman helped. I knew what bothered me when I tried to clear the slot and I picked up a few things that drive defensemen crazy."

"If I play my physical game and still get 20 (goals) I'd be happy."

Houston played briefly with Washington and Los Angeles late in his career. He totalled 570 NHL games played with 161 goals and 328 points.

Houston later worked as a scout and as a sales rep for food distributor Sysco.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

He is from Dresden, Ontario not Chatham!!

Anonymous said...

Grew up with Ken in Dresden, came from a family of big guys

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