March 28, 2016

Gerry Hart

Gerry Hart was a nice depth defenseman who played 730 career games in the NHL. With 29 goals, 150 assists and 1240 penalty minutes, he was a stay-at-home defender who was not afraid to get physical.

Gerry Hart is best remembered playing with the New York Islanders in the 1970s. He played with Quebec and St. Louis late in his career, but he actually started out with  Detroit.

It was with the Red Wings early in his career where he learned a very important life lesson.

"I suffered a borderline, career ending injury and I was out for about a year and a half," Hart told author Brian McFalone for his book Over The Glass And Into The Crowd. "I had no education. I had chosen to play junior A hockey in Flin Flon (Manitoba) along with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach, but I had to sacrifice going to school to do it. When I got hurt in Detroit, the reality of possibly having to return to Flin Flon to work in the mine was not very appealing to me.

"The alarm kind of went off. I realized I had better start thinking of some alternatives. So as I continued to make my way back into playing hockey, I made sure that in each and every city I paid attention to what was going on in the world of finance. I met a lot of influential business people that were very willing to provide advice and direction. I used that opportunity to gain ground in the financial world."

Hart did recover, but aside from playing with the Wings in the 1970-71 season, he could never stick with the Wings.

The New York Islanders selected Hart in the expansion draft. For seven seasons Hart would play an unheralded role with the Islanders, who were a dynasty in the making.

But one year prior to the Islanders winning their first of four consecutive Stanley Cups, Hart was again selected in an expansion draft, this time heading to the Quebec Nordiques.

Hart was upset at the move. Obviously he would miss out on the Islanders success after helping build
something special - both on the ice and off.

 "That was the first real emotional setback in my career. I had established myself personally and professionally in the community and leaving it behind hurt a lot"

Hart would barely make it into his second season in Quebec before falling out of favor with coach Maurice Fillion and being traded to the St. Louis Blues.

Hart's career came to an end prematurely in 1982 thanks to knee and back injuries. But he was well set up for retirement, with a healthy portfolio of rental and investment holdings. He later got into building a recreational facility in Hauppague, New York, featuring two ice rinks.

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