May 05, 2016

Bryan Maxwell

Bryan Maxwell is a bit of a legend in the Western Hockey League, a division of the famed Canadian Junior Leagues.

Born in North Bay Ontario but growing up in Lethbridge Alberta, Bryan debuted in the league during the 1972-73 season as a fresh rookie with the Medicine Hat Tigers. Bryan had limited ice time in 37 games that year, but excelled the following two years. He was a double digit goal scorer as a defenseman, a 60 point man and earned well over 200 penalty minutes in a season.

Numbers like that will certainly catch the attention of NHL scouts. A defenseman of that stature was in high demand in the 1970s, or any other time for that matter. So the Minnesota North Stars selected Bryan fourtth overall in a weak 1975 draft class.

Bryan - no relation to Brad Maxwell who played around the same time - was also drafted by Cleveland in the WHA draft, and he opted to play in the rebel league. He put in 3 seasons there, 2 in Cleveland and one in New England. However he struggled early - as many young defensemen do - and never really recovered.

The North Stars secured his release from the WHA part way through the 1977-78 season and he finished the year with 18 games in Minny. An injury plagued 1978-79 season saw Bryan only appear in 25 contests, and the North Stars gave up on their once prized prospect.

Maxwell joined the St. Louis Blues, and later the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins. He did develop into a decent depth defenseman at best, but injuries really plagued poor Bryan, who only saw action in 331 NHL games over 8 years

Bryan returned to junior hockey following retirement, this time as a coach where he has once again become an promising prospect out of the juniors. Bryan did briefly make it as an NHL assistant coach. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach with Wayne Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings. He returned to the Western Hockey League to coach for many seasons.

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