June 9th, 1979 was a sad day in hockey history.
On that day hockey lost 27 year Scott Garland in an automobile accident. He was driving his car on a freeway near Montreal when his tire blew, causing him to lose control of the car and slam into a retaining wall. He died of his injuries shortly thereafter.
Garland was a utility role player. He played center and right wing and even defense. The Regina native made up for any lack of talent with an abundance of try, making him a favorite of every coach he ever had.
Garland overcame long odds to make it to the National Hockey League. He only played in a total 34 career Junior A level games and was never drafted.
After spending 1972-73 hustling every shift as an unaffiliated player in the minor leagues he was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He continued to play in the minor leagues for three more seasons.
Garland made his NHL debut late in the 1975-76 season, finishing the year strongly with four goals and seven points in sixteen games. He also participated in seven of the Leafs ten playoff contests.
Garland earned a full time roster spot for the 1976-77 season. In 69 games he scored nine goals and 29 points, though a broken arm ended his season prematurely.
Then things inexplicably soured between the hard hitting Garland and the Leafs. Instead of playing out his option year of his contract, Garland demanded to be traded from the Leafs or he would retire.
"I need the change and I need to be somewhere where I will be appreciated," said Garland at the time.
True to his word, Garland quit hockey until the trade finally came about. Mind you he needed time to mend a broken collarbone and stretched knee ligaments, anyway. He was going to look into becoming a real estate agent but he returned to the ice late in the season to play 20 games back in the minor leagues.
Through it all, he remained very frustrated by the Leafs not trading him.
"It isn't like I'm some kind of big draft choice or something. I was a walk on in training camp. They could trade me for a bucket of oranges and they'd still come out ahead," he quipped.
The trade finally came in the summer of 1978. He was traded to Los Angeles with Brian Glennie, Kurt Walker and Toronto's 2nd round choice (Mark Hardy) in 1979 Entry Draft for Dave Hutchison and Lorne Stamler. He was a throw-in for sure, but he was part of a fairly significant trade nonetheless.
Garland would only play in six games with the Kings in the 1978-79 season. He spent the rest of an injury plagued season in the minor leagues.