April 21, 2016

Larry Mickey

A vagabond player if there ever was one, right-winger Larry Mickey played close to 300 games in the National Hockey League. An explosive scorer in junior, Mickey was a solid scorer in his lengthy career in the minor leagues. He would score 39 goals, 53 assists for 92 points in 292 NHL contests.

Despite his status as a scoring legend in junior, Mickey had the unenviable task of trying to crack a NHL roster back in the days when there was only six teams. With so few NHL jobs available, Mickey apprenticed in the minor leagues with both the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers farm organizations. He played a handful of games with each NHL team, but spent most of his time with various farm teams, including the AHL Buffalo Bisons.

When the NHL doubled in size to 12 teams in 1967-68, Mickey was expected to finally have his shot at the NHL, but an early season arm injury cost him most of the season.

In June 1969, the Toronto Maple Leafs picked up the right winger in the Intra-League Draft. Mickey scored 27 points and played on an effective line with Forbes Kennedy and Brit Selby.

Mickey's efforts were noticed by the Montreal Canadiens, who picked him up for 21 games in the 1969-70 season. He would go onto to toil with the Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers, and their various farm teams, before joining the Buffalo Sabres.

With the Sabres, Mickey enjoyed his best NHL days. He spent parts of four seasons in the Queen City. In 1972-73, he scored 15 goals while teamed with Don Luce and Craig Ramsay and helped the young club reach the playoffs in only its third year of existence.

Injuries and personal problems prevent Mickey from continuing his success. Over the next three seasons Mickey would play only in 45 games, 36 of which were with the Sabres. After sitting out the 1975-76 season, Mickey coached the IHL's Dayton Gems for two years then returned to play three more years. He retired for good after playing 38 games for the EHL's Hampton Aces in 1981.

In total Mickey played for 16 professional teams in 15 years and 6 leagues.

On July 23rd, 1982, Mickey was found in his garage sitting in his idling car. Though no note was left behind, the death was ruled a suicide. Mickey had fought alcoholism much of his adult life, and that may have played a role.

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