May 10, 2016

Steve Vickers

Left winger Steve Vickers was one of the more underrated scorers of the 1970s.

Often teaming with Walt Tkaczuk and Bill Fairbairn on the "Bulldog Line," five times Vickers scored 29 or more goals, including in 1979-80 when he scored 29 on just 98 shots. His best year was his third season (1974-75). After scoring 30 and 34 goals in his first two seasons he set personal bests with 41 goals and 89 points that season.

Of left wingers in the 1970s only Bill Barber, Steve Shutt and Rick Martin scored more points than Vickers. That's pretty good company for the Toronto native who scored 246 goals and totaled 586 points in 698 NHL games.

Vickers made quite the impression early on, winning the Calder trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1973. He quickly established himself as a favorite with the fans and his teammates for his work ethic and goal scoring.

His teammates knew him as "Sarge," but it was not because he was necessarily the guy who was going to lead the Rangers into battle every night.

"When I broke in with the team, my nickname was 'Vic,' but we already had Vic Hadfield and people were getting mixed up," Vickers said. "It was (teammate) Pete Stemkowski who nicknamed me 'Sarge' because of an old army shirt I'd wear to practice. The name just stuck."

So too, did Vickers. He became a dependable, go-to scorer on the underrated Rangers teams of the 1970s.

"I watched guys like Walt Tkaczuk, Ed Giacomin, Rod Gilbert and how they conducted themselves. They were great role models for me."

With more famous teammates Vickers did not often get the Manhattan spotlight all to himself. But he did on the night of February 18, 1976 when he set a New York Rangers team record by scoring seven points in one game against Washington. He had three goals and four assists.

"It was one of those nights where everything was going in. I played with Rod Gilbert and Wayne Dillon. I got six points to tie the record and then got the seventh point late in the game. It was a special night for me."

Vickers could score, but he prided himself on his two way game. Though he had a long fuse, he could certainly handle himself when it came to the more combative side of the game.

After retiring from the game Vickers relocated to Florida and worked for a mineral company.

No comments: