September 24, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Don Spring

Not every hockey player who has represented Canada at the Olympic games was born in Canada. 

Claude Vilgrain was born in Haiti and moved to Quebec as a youth. Petr Nedved was born and raised in the Czech Republic but played for Canada after defecting from the communist state of Czechoslovakia.

And then there is the case of Don Spring, who, with one goal in 259 NHL games, is the highest scoring hockey player ever to come out of Venezuela.

Spring was born in Venezuela because his Canadian father was working there as an engineer. When Don was four years old the family returned to northern Alberta. He was the star athlete - on the ice as well as the volleyball court and swimming pool - in the small town of Edson.

Spring was never on the NHL radar until 1980. He had been playing with the University of Alberta Golden Bears while earning a business degree. But, like Golden Bears defense partner Randy Gregg, he left school in 1979 to try out with Father Bauer's Canadian national team. Spring was drawn to the program by Bauer and by the fact that it was an Olympic season.

The steady defender ended up making the Canadian Olympic team that competed at Lake Placid in 1980. He only picked up an assist, but he also picked up the interest of the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets would sign Spring to a free agent contract right after the Olympics.

Spring would play four solid seasons in Winnipeg, scoring just 1 goal and 55 points in a career that lasted 259 NHL games. He would also play a season of professional hockey in Germany before hanging up the blades in 1985.

No comments: