Tom Reid

Tom Reid was a defensive defenseman who's play always went unnoticed among the fans, but his coaches always appreciated his work. 

The Fort Erie native was developed in the Chicago Black Hawks system and played for the St.Catherines Black Hawks in the juniors (OHA) between 1964-67. He made his debut in the NHL during the 1967-68 season and played two seasons with Chicago, earning his first point when he assisted on one of the patented Bobby Hull slapshots. Tommy was traded to the Minnesota North Stars in February 1969 together with Bill Orban for Andre Boudrias and Mike McMahon.

Tommy enjoyed almost 10 years of stellar play in the Twin Cities. He only scored 17 goals in 701 regular season games and had 130 points. One of his goals came on a penalty shot against Montreal's Ken Dryden. It was so rare that Tommy was in the offensive zone that he tried to fake an injury so he didn't have to take the penalty shot. Referee Bruce Hood didn't buy it and Tommy had to  take the shot. He burried the penalty shot on a 20-foot slapper that beat Dryden. His goal scoring may have been low but it was his play along the boards and in front of  his own goal that was Tommy's strengths. He always kept things simple and never tried to be fancy and do something beyond his capacity which kept the amount of errors and giveaways at a minimum. Tommy had a great sense of humour and was keeping his teammates laughing for many years.

Reid retired because he became allergic to his equipment. I'll let Reid himself explain.

"In the mid-seventies, a number of players in the NHL had problems with allergies as related to the equipment. The perspiration and the friction actually removed the skin. It started out very small but after three years, getting up to the '77-78 season, I had some terrible problems with it I was spending a lot of time with doctors, trying to combat this thing and it was getting progressively worse. When I finally had to quite playing in 1977, I had no skin basically from my neck to my waist."

He later added - "But fortunately also, I'm not the only one who had to retire because of it. There was about 40 players in the NHL over the course of about three years that were affected Rick Vaive....Lou Nanne, Dennis Hextall.... and I think Jacques Lemaire had it as well. There were players all around the league who were experiencing it."



Charlie Burns

Charlie Burns was an excellent penalty killer and strong defensive forward. Versatility was his trademark, as was his cumbersome-looking helmet. In an era where almost no one wore a helmet, Burns was forced to because of a nearly head injury in junior hockey that left him with a metal plate in his head.

A spectacular skater with a fantastic intellect for the game, Burns really benefited from expansion in 1967. Though he had spent previous several seasons playing (and coaching!) in San Francisco of the Western League, he had plenty of Original Six experience, too.

Burns stepped right into the NHL after 2 seasons of senior hockey in Whitby, Ontario. He never apprenticed in the minors at all, as the Detroit Red Wings found a home for him, playing in all 70 games. He was quite the story that year, as he became the first Red Wings player who was actually born in Detroit! But Burns and his family moved to Toronto when he was still a youngster. He grew up as a Maple Leafs fan.

After that rookie NHL season in 1958-59, Burns moved on to Boston where he played with the Bruins for four more complete seasons. He never scored more than 15 goals or 41 points in a season, but was a valuable if underrated third line role player.

The Bruins sent him to their WHL farm team in San Francisco to play but also coach. He loved playing in San Francisco and always believed the NHL should have based the expansion Seals franchise in SF instead of Oakland.

Nonetheless, when the Seals did arrive on the NHL scene in 1967, Burns reappeared as well. It lasted two long seasons. The team was not very good, yet Burns was devastated when he learned he would have to leave the Bay Area to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to an intra-league draft prior to the 1968-69 season.

Burns would only play one season with the Pens, enjoying his best offensive season with 51 points. Then he joined the Minnesota North Stars for four seasons. In his first season in Minny he actually played and coached, making him the last man in NHL history to play and coach the team at the same time.



Keith Acton

From his very first NHL game right through to his 1023rd and final contest, Keith Acton played the same way - all out.

Acton was an energetic checking forward. He was hard working and honest, yet aggressive and feisty and almost always yapping his mouth at the opposition. Throughout his career he was often compared to Ken Linseman.

Acton and Linseman played very similar roles, although Acton never had the same offensive contributions as Kenny. Acton did have a great sophomore season in Montreal when he scored a career high 36 goals and 88 points but otherwise he was cast as a third line utility center - a role he excelled at.

Acton was small at just 5'8" but he played a physical game. He was very willing to hit and be hit, and never shied away from traffic. He was also very liberal with his stick, often using it to distract opponents more than to score goals. Blessed with great straight-ahead speed, Acton was great at jumping into openings all over the ice. And you can bet that if you tried to hook him back when he did surprisingly jump ahead of you, he'd dive with the perfect touch of embellishment, thus drawing the referees attention and more often than not got his team a power play.

Besides good foot speed, Acton had a nice package of finesse skills. He had good hands and was creative enough to set up his wingers, however he lacked a good shot at the NHL level. Thus most of his goals came from banging at loose pucks near the net. Acton did have good hockey sense, particularly in his defensive role. His persistent puck pursuit and excellence on face-offs also made him a mainstay on the penalty killing units.

Acton was originally a late round pick of the Montreal Canadiens. Despite back to back 120+ point seasons with the strong junior organization Peterborough Petes, Acton wasn't selected until 103rd overall in 1978 as questions about his size underrated him. After a couple of years in the Habs farm system, Keith made the big jump to the NHL in 1980-81 in a limited role, playing 61 games with 15 goals and 39 points.

As mentioned earlier, Acton exploded for his 88 point season in year two, but because of the Habs strong depth at center ice he was relegated to third line duty in 1982-83.

After a strong start to the 1983-84 season (10 points in the first 9 games), Acton was traded to Minnesota as a key part of package that landed big center Bobby Smith in Montreal. Smith went on to record several strong seasons in Montreal. Acton failed to put up the offensive numbers that were hoped for, but he was a valuable member of an often weak Stars team. Acton was a strong leader on the team.

The Stars moved the speedster to Edmonton during the 1987-88 season in exchange for Moe Mantha. Acton played with a yeoman's effort as he helped the Oilers capture the 1988 Stanley Cup.

Part way through the 1988-89 season Acton was moved to Philadelphia where he would play for the following 4 years. He spent the 1993-94 season, his last in the NHL, with Washington and NY Islanders.

Keith Acton, always a popular leader in any dressing room he was part of, turned to the world of coaching after his playing days were over.



Brian Bellows

Heading into the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, a young winger named Brian Bellows was the talk of the draft. The Kitchener Rangers forward was the complete package. He was a clutch scorer and a power play specialist. He was a hungry and courageous leader, setting the tone for his team by playing bigger than he actually was. yes, Brian Bellows did it all - heck, while injured he even filled in as head coach when coach Joe Crozier was suspended! And he became a junior hockey legend when he lead Kitchener to a Memorial Cup championship in 1982.

Teams lined up to acquire the right to draft Bellows back in the summer of 1982. But it was a bit of a surprise when Boston landed the top pick. Minnesota so badly wanted Bellows that they acquired the 2nd overall pick from Detroit and then they traded defenseman Brad Palmer to the Bruins to ensure that Bellows was not selected. The Bruins selected WHL defenseman Gord Kluzak. Bellows, who had controversially announced he did not want to play in Canada because of high taxes, went second overall to Minnesota.

He would become one of the top players in North Stars history, but never received much of the expected fan fare around the rest of the league. He was a solid, consistent two way player but he failed to put up superstar numbers like Mike Bossy or Jari Kurri or Brett Hull. Bellows was a consistent 35 goal threat who was instrumental in getting the North Stars into the Stanley Cup final in 1991, but somehow he was never revered like one would have expected him to be.

Part of that was due to the weak North Stars teams. When Bellows was drafted the North Stars were just a year removed from challenging the New York Islanders for the Stanley Cup. But the franchise fell on hard times over much of the rest of the decade. Without veteran leadership the young stars like Bellows, Neal Broten, and Dino Ciccarelli were doomed to falter. The team and many of its better players became almost irrelevant in that time period. Even the surprised Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1991 was not enough to salvage their various legacies.

In 1992 Minnesota traded Bellows to Montreal in exchange for Russ Courtnall. Bellows never balked to play for Les Canadiens.

"I was shocked but I'm excited about the new change," Bellows said at the time. "My idol was Ken Dryden. It's every kid's dream to play for the Canadiens. They're a first class organization.

It turned out to be a great move for Bellows. He put up his last great NHL season, scoring 40 goals in the regular season and then helped the Habs win the Stanley Cup in 1993.

Bellows wound up with 485 career goals, including 9 30-goal seasons, 4 40-goal seasons and a 50goal season. Impressive numbers, unless you compare them to dynamic superstars of the 1980s. Given the hype when he entered the league, there was always a hint of unexplained love lost for Bellows. For some reason I can not quite pin point much of the league just never warmed to this very special hockey player. He will go down in history not as a superstar but an underrated hockey player.



Darcy Wakaluk

A lot of people of my generation will always remember Ron Hextall becoming the first NHL goalie to actually score a goal by shooting the puck the length of the ice into an open net.

But I always remember three days earlier Rochester Americans (AHL) goaltender Darcy Wakaluk accomplished the feat first.

On December 5th, 1987 Wakaluk shot the puck into the Utica Devils vacant net with just 1 second left in the game. In doing so Wakaluk became the first goaltender in AHL history to score a goal, and only the third goalie in North American pro hockey history to do so (Michel Plasse of the CHL and Billy Smith of the NHL).

Wakaluk had an even better chance to score a goal about a month later. On the night of January 10th, 1988, Waklauk skated in a game against Nova Scotia as a forward! The Amerks were down to just 11 skaters due to injuries and NHL call ups. Coach John Van Boxmeer dressed the 21 year old goalie as a winger with the idea that he would be parked on the bench and never see the ice. But in the third period Wakaluk did skate, and he even had a shot on goal.

"He (Wakaluk) had as much business being out there as anybody else," said Van Boxmeer after the game. "At least he had a scoring chance. Some guys go five games without a chance."

Wakaluk returned to the nets after that game, determined to play in the NHL. But that would not happen in the Sabres organization. He would get into 22 games with the Sabres, but otherwise was stuck in the minor leagues for 5 seasons.

Wakaluk was traded to Minnesota in 1991 almost as an after-thought. The Sabres only got an 8th round draft pick in return. In a steal the North Stars got themselves a NHL calibre goaltender.

"In my mind, I've always thought I could play in the NHL but there have been a lot of questions in other people's minds," Wakaluk said. "I think if I didn't feel I could play in the NHL, I'd quit. Hockey is a hard grind in the minors."

Wakaluk's first full season in the NHL came with Dallas in 1991-92. He played 36 games, finishing ith a respectable 13-19-1 record while proving to be a more-than-capable back up to Jon Casey.

"I'm grateful to the North Stars for giving me the opportunity. All I ever wanted was a chance. It's not easy to feel part of a team when you're called up (from the minors) and you know you'll probably get sent back. When you're here, there's a snowball effect. You play with more confidence, you're more relaxed and the better you feel, the better you play and more confidence you have."

Wakaluk parlayed that strong season into 5 more seasons in the NHL - four more with Minnesota/Dallas Stars and another with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Wakaluk's career came to a sudden end on January 3rd, 1997. In a game against the Washington Capitals Wakaluk suffered a seemingly routine knee injury. Unfortunately, Wakaluk never returned to play another game as multiple surgeries could not strengthen his knee.



Ron Zanussi

Ron Zanussi (no relation to Joe Zanussi) was a hard working, physical winger for nearly 300 NHL games. He played four seasons with the Minnesota North Stars and two more with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Zanussi scored 52 goals and 135 points in that time, but it was his spirited physical play that earned him applause.

"What I like about Zanussi," said Minnesota coach Ted Harris "is that he goes up and down his wing the same on the road as he does in the home games. He can score and takes the body.

Initially the North Stars demoted Zanussi to apprentice in the minor leagues with Fort Wayne.

"I loved that Texas weather, but (the NHL) is a better place to be," he said. "No, I didn't expect such a quick call-up. I was told when I got back that the team needed more aggressiveness on the wings. I feel that's a strong point in my game."

Enthusiasm and aggressiveness were key words for Zanussi. But he played generally with in the rules. Never did he outrage any with ludicrous penalty minute totals. In fact he had "just" 373 in his NHL career.

In 3 of his 4 seasons in Minnesota he challenged the 15 goal and 30 point mark, topping out with 45 points in 1979-80. But by 1980-81 Zanussi's playing time had been cut and he wanted to try to rejuvenate his career with another team.

Zanussi, the former London Knights junior star, became the first player in Toronto Maple Leafs history with his last name starting with the letter "Z." The trade from Minnesota was interesting in that Zanussi's agent was Brent Imlach, the son of Leafs general manager Punch Imlach. The trade deadline deal for a draft pick is an otherwise unnoteworthy transaction. Zanussi scored 3 goals in 58 games with the Leafs before finishing his carer in the minor leagues.



Brian MacLellan

When one plays over 600 games in the National Hockey League, it is unfair to question his love of the game. But like many oversized players, MacLellan was labeled as enigmatic. Many accused him of going through the motions, when in fact he was very intense in his own right.

MacLellan had some great talents. He was absolutely huge at 6'3" and 215 pounds of chisled muscle. He was as strong as an oak tree, immovable in front of the net. He wasn't a fast or graceful skater, but had power and balance in his stride to make up for that. And he possesed excellent puck skills, most notably his shot. He had an overpowering wrist and slap shot, which he got off with great quickness and accuracy.

When he was fired up, Brian had the capability of dominating a single game. Problem was he rarely seemed to get fired up. He had the strength and the talent, but he lacked the intensity and consistency to truly become one of the league's top left wingers in the 1980s. Despite his size he wasn't an overly physical player by nature. And defensively he was a liability - partly because of his lack of speed but also do the sheer laziness and poor positional play.

As a result of his frustrating label, Brian was a well traveled NHLer, playing with 5 organizations in 10 years. He started out with the LA Kings, and enjoyed his best season statistically in 1984-85 when he scored 31 goals and a career high 54 assists and 85 points. However early in the 1985-86 season he was traded to New York and the following season to Minnesota. Late in 1988-89, he was traded to Calgary and played a minor role in their first Stanley Cup championship. He spent 2 more years in Calgary before playing one final season with the Detroit Red Wings in 1991-92.

No one should question Brian's work ethic or desire. To play in the NHL as long as he did takes tremendous amounts of both. Brian was more complacent than anything. He could have been a great left winger in the league.

The fact that MacLellan played in the NHL is a miracle in itself. As a child he suffered from a bone disease that left him in a body cast for a year. And when he was 19 he broke his neck. Two times in his young life he almost became permanently paralyzed.


Gordie Roberts

Gordie Roberts was drafted by Montreal in the 1977 Entry Draft (7th choice, 54th overall) but never played for the Habs. He actually began his pro hockey career in 1975 with the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. Playing against and later with the likes of Gordie Howe, Dave Keon, Bobby Hull and other superstars in the WHA was a tremendous boost to Roberts development as a player.

"It was a great learning experience" said Roberts, who's father named him after his favorite hockey player - the great Gordie Howe.

Over four seasons with the Whalers before the WHA and NHL merged in 1979-80 Roberts totaled 42 goals, 144 assists and 186 points in 311 games. In back to back seasons, 1977-78 and 1978-79, he led all WHA defensemen in scoring.

The WHA and NHL merged in 1979 and Roberts was claimed by Hartford from Montreal, who still held his NHL rights, in 1979 Expansion Draft.

Gordie played a season and a half with the NHL's version of the Whalers before being traded to the Minnesota North Stars. A rugged and dependable rearguard, Roberts was best known as a North Star as he played 8 years in Minnesota where he was a fan favorite. He was a big part of a young Stars team that went to the Finals in 1981, but couldn't seem to recapture their early success. His best NHL campaign came in 1983-84 when he scored eight goals, 45 assists and 53 points.

After Minnesota, Roberts played part of one season with the Philadelphia Flyers before spending parts of four seasons with the St. Louis Blues. Gordie was then traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1990-91 campaign where he helped the Penguins to consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992. Those Cups rank at the top of Gordie's long highlight list. Ironically the 1991 championship came at the expense of the North Stars, who made a Cinderella run to the finals.

Gordie, who followed in the footsteps of older brother Doug to play in the NHL (419 games played), joined the Boston Bruins for two more seasons to round out his playing career. One of the highlights of Roberts' career came in Boston when he became the first U.S.-born player in league history to play in 1,000 games (with Boston on Dec. 9, 1992 at Buffalo).

He attended the San Jose Sharks training camp in 1995 but decided to hang up his blades after posting 1 assist in 7 pre-season games.

In his 16 seasons in the NHL, the steady defenseman recorded 61 goals, 359 assists and 420 points in 1,097 regular season games. Roberts added 57 points in 153 playoff contests. Roberts did play a couple seasons in the minors after his NHL days were done, finishing his career in Minnesota with the IHL Moose. He effectively served as a playing coach and would later go on to various levels of coaching and management. He will be best remembered as a defenseman who played a conservative and reliable positional game. He was never much of an offensive threat in the National Hockey League, despite being a good skater. He preferred to take care of his own end where he was a willing if not a punishing physical presence. He was good at making a quick outlet pass to create a nice transition offense opportunity. He had the coolest set of nerves you'll ever see. He'd hang to the puck calmly no matter who was forechecking hard in on him, and just when you would think it is too late, he'd make a clever little pass.

In addition to the two Stanley Cups, Roberts can proudly claim he represented his native United States in two World Hockey Championships and the 1984 Canada Cup. He is also a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame



Bob Whitlock

Bob Whitlock is one of the "one gamers" in the NHL. Players who only played one game in the NHL. He was born in Charlottetown, P.E.I, July 16, 1949. Bob's dad, Roy "Buck" Whitlock was a former star around the Maritime Provinces of Canada

Bob enjoyed a successful junior career in the Nova Scotia junior hockey league and the New Brunswick junior hockey league. Bob was signed by Minnesota North Stars on October 2, 1969 and wound up playing for the farm team Iowa Stars in the CHL. He was called up for his only NHL game that season (1969-70) and played very well in the game, but he was sent down to Iowa again and didn't get any more opportunities in the big league.

Bob's next two seasons as a pro were split between the Cleveland Barons in the AHL and the Phoenix Roadrunners of the WHL. He had a very fine season in the WHL, winning the rookie of the year award in 1971-72 after a productive season that saw him score 79 pts (33+46).

His fine season made the Chicago Cougars of the WHA sign him after they had bought his negotiation rights from Los Angeles Sharks (also of the WHA). He had a surprisingly strong first season getting 51 pts for the Cougars. In the middle of the following season (1973-74) the Sharks got him back. Bob had a couple of more productive seasons with the Indianapolis Racers and scored a total of 179 pts (81+98) in 244 WHA games.

Bob finished his playing career in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and Western International Hockey League (WIHL). In the NAHL he played for Mohawk Valley Comets, Erie Blades and the Johnstown Jets before playing his last season in 1977-78 for the Trail Smoke Eaters in the WIHL.

Bob's biggest asset was without a doubt his shots that were described as cannon blasts. His slapshot was according to a majority of experts as hard as legendary Bobby Hull's blasts. Nobody unloaded the cannon like Bob. In a pre game warm up during the 1972-73 season one of his powerful slapshots broke the plexiglass that surrounded the ice surface in Chicago's International Amphitheatre Arena.



Neal Broten

Minnesota is known as "The State of Hockey." With notoriously frigid winters and countless frozen lakes, ponds and streams to play on, hockey was as natural to Minnesotans as it was for Canadians. For the longest time, hockey in the United States was more or less affiliated with Minnesota. The life of smaller towns revolved around the rinks and ponds. High school hockey has as much interest as the pro game. And the college rivalries are as intense as any pro rivalry.

Like many families in Roseau, Minnesota, hockey was a birthright for the Broten family. Neal and his brothers Aaron and Paul would all be state high school and college stars, and go onto the National Hockey League.

But few would argue that Neal was not the best. In fact, in a state that has produced more hockey superstars than virtually every other state in the country, most consider Neal to be the best player the state has ever produced.

Neal had been skating and playing hockey since as long as he could remember. He grew up playing shinny, mastering his puck handling and skating skills. He went on to become a high school sensation in his hometown of Roseau, just minutes away from the Canadian border. After that he embarked upon one of the most successful college careers in hockey history with the University of Minnesota. He scored 38 goals and 104 assists for 142 points in just 76 career games.

Broten started with the U of M in 1978-79 but took the 1979-80 season off to play with the US National Team. As America's up and coming superstar, Olympic coach Herb Brooks included the 20 year old the now-famous 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympic team. Brooks, who coached Broten at the University of Minnesota, was not concerned about his lack of experience or size. He knew that his incredible skill package was undeniably impressive. He called Broten the greatest athlete he ever coached at the University.

The fabulous "Miracle on ice" story is well known to even non-hockey fans. A bunch of upstart US college kids knocked off the might Soviet Union national team, considered by many to be the most powerful hockey team of all time. In a showdown of politics, societies and idealogies as much of sport, the Americans pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in athletic history. Broten contributed nicley with 2 goals and 3 points in 7 Olympic contests.

Neal returned to University the following season. Playing on a line with brother Aaron, Neal was considered the best player in all of college hockey, winning the Hobey Baker award.

At the completion of his school year he immediately joined the NHL's Minnesota North Stars, who drafted him 42nd overall back in 1979. Broten scored twice in three games to finish he season, and then played in 19 playoff games as the North Stars surprisingly made a Cinderella run at the Stanley Cup, only to fall short to the New York Islanders. Broten added speed and creativity to the team, as well as 1 goal and 8 points in the playoffs.

Broten started his official NHL rookie season of 1981-82 by representing the United States in the 1981 Canada Cup tournament. He played well, scoring 3 goals in 6 games. He then went on to have a great rookie season, scoring a career high 38 goals as well as 60 assists for 98 points.

Broten would enjoy 11 more productive seasons in Minnesota, including a career high 76 assists and 105 points in 1985-86. By scoring 100 points, he became the first American born player to score 100 points in National Hockey League history. But never managed to take his game to the next level of superstar point scorer like the Gretzkys, Lemieuxs, Hawerchucks and Yzermans of his day. Other than that unexpected run to the Stanley Cup finals in 1981, the North Stars never really accomplished much during Broten's long tenure either. As such the understated Broten was forever in the shadows of other stars, except in Minny where the whole state revered him.

Another highlight in Broten's storied career in Minnesota came in 1991 as the North Stars again went on a Cinderella-like run at the Stanley Cup, this time to once again fall short to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Broten played exceptionally, scoring 22 points in 23 games..

However 1993 would be a bad year for Minnesota hockey and it's favorite son. The North Stars franchise was moved to Dallas. There was much speculation that Neal, coming off of two sub-par years, would retire and remain in Minnesota. However Neal went south with the rest of his team. By this time Broten was no longer the steady point producer that he was best known for. He was a wily veteran who became more a defensive forward/penalty killer. He spent a season and a half in Dallas before being traded to New Jersey for Corey Millen. He spent a little over a season and a half in Jersey, and picked up a Stanley Cup ring in 1995, allowing him to join Ken Morrow as the only 1980 Olympians to win the Stanley Cup. Broten would briefly join the Los Angeles Kings, but 19 games later he was traded back to the Dallas Stars where he finished his career in 1997.

Broten, a super skater and playmaker, played just one game shy of 1100 in the NHL. He scored 289 times while setting up 634 others for a career total of 923 points. He added another 35 goals and 98 points in 135 playoff games. He retired as the franchise's all time record holder (since broken) for career games, points, goals, assists and playoff games. His jersey #7 retired in 1998 by the Stars. Two years later he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Minnesota's favorite son now lives on a horse farm with his wife Sally in River Falls, Wisconsin.


Craig Hartsburg

Craig Hartsburg was an elite NHL defenseman who had his career derailed by injuries. His medical chart includes games lost due to a broken leg, multiple knee operations, herniated discs in his back, pulled groins, hernia, separated shoulder and finally an infected ankle that finally forced him to retire.

Before the injuries riddled him, Hartsburg was a wonderful rushing defenseman. He was an excellent skater, extremely mobile laterally in particular. He would often rush the puck out of the zone, sometimes recklessly and leading to injury susceptibility.

As his career progressed he reigned in his rushing game and proved to be a fantastic passing defenseman, clearing the zone with proficiency but starting the transition offense expertly as well. He also knew how to quarterback a power play. His vision and creativity allowed him to move the puck into the slimmest of passing lanes, and he naturally knew when to pinch to keep the zone.

But his low, hard shot was his real weapon. He wasn't the hardest shooting point man, but always got the puck through traffic and on the net. His shot was also always perfect for tipping and rebounds.

Despite what his penalty minutes may suggest, Hartsburg was not known as a physical defenseman. He was strong and big, and used that to his advantage to defend. He was not a big splashy hitter, instead relying more on muscles and angles to steer opponents to the boards where he would pin them.

Hartsburg was very sound defensively, playing his defensive angles well and reading the rush well back into his own zone. His active stick broke up a lot of oncoming breaks.

Despite his skills package, Hartsburg is often forgotten about in discussions revolving around the top defensemen of the 1980s. Lost time due to injury certainly have something to do with that, as does Minnesota's lack of success after 1981. If it wasn't for his extremely successful coaching career, modern fans may never have heard of this great defender from the 1980s.

In 570 games, all with the North Stars, Hartsburg scored 98 goals, 315 assists and 413 points while collecting 818 penalty minutes.


Bill Goldsworthy

Bill was a hard shooting winger developed in the Boston Bruins junior and minor league system. He played with the Bruins OHA junior team in Niagara Falls and helped the Falls Flyers win the 1965 Memorial Cup.

"Goldy," as he was best known, never really got a chance to play with the Bruins however. He played parts of two injury plagued years with the Bruins but spent most of his time in the minor leagues.

Goldsworthy was the beneficiary of expansion when the NHL grew from 6 to 12 teams. 6 new teams meant approximately 120 news jobs in the NHL, and Goldy wanted to be one of those 120. That process began on June 6, 1967, when he was chosen by the Minnesota North Stars in the expansion draft.

Of all the players, chosen in the expansion draft, it was Goldy who may have had the best career. In Minnesota he developed into a fine goal scorer and became the North Stars first star attraction.

After a modest 14 goal, 33 point season in 68 games, Goldy exploded in the playoffs. In 14 games in the 1968 post season, Goldy led the entire National Hockey League in goals (8) and points (15). He also popularized the "Goldy Shuffle." The Shuffle is a now common routine for celebrating a goal, but it was Goldsworthy who really started it. Bill would lift one leg, and pump the opposite arm in
celebration of goals.

Goldy suffered a setback in 1968-69 season. Critics scoffed that he was a post season fluke and they scoffed more when he struggled through a terrible 1968-69 season. He scored only 14 goals in 68 games, just 6 more than he scored in 14 playoff games the previous spring. He only added 10 assists and was a horrendous -27.

However he silenced his critics in 1969-70 when he rediscovered his touch and scored a whopping 36 goals. And he proved it was no fluke for the next 5 years as he failed to score more than 30 goals only once. He scored a club record of 48 goals in 1973-74 season that stood for eight years before Dino Ciccarelli broke the mark in 1982. He captained the Stars from 1974-1976 and represented the team in 5 different all star games.

While Bill was more of a shooter than a playmaker, he was not a one-trick pony. He could play at both ends of the ice and was known as a solid team player. These all around qualities helped him to be selected on Team Canada's Summit Series roster that defeated the Russians in 1972. Goldy appeared in 3 of the 8 games, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist.

Bill was a very talented player who benefited from lots of playing time with the expansion North Stars. While he never got a chance to play in Boston, one would have to wonder how good Goldy would have been with a team that possessed a more talented supporting cast.

Late in his career the Stars traded their original franchise player to the New York Rangers. By this point in his career Goldy was showing his age and not contributing like he used to. His struggle with alcoholism was also starting to win the battle.

Bill played 68 games with the Rangers before finishing his career with the WHA's Indy Racers and Edmonton Oilers.

With the Stars franchise set to move from Minnesota to Dallas, the North Stars did something nice to remember their past. On February 15th, 1992 Bill's number eight was retired in a memorable ceremony in front of a sell out crowd at Met Center. It was one of the last great memories for North Star fans.

After retiring as a player, Bill moved into coaching. He was coaching the San Antonio Iguanas of the Central Hockey League when he was hospitalized on November 11, 1994. He had been feeling ill for two months, and learned during the stay that he was suffering from AIDS. Bill passed away in a Minneapolis hospital, May 24, 1996 of complications from the disease.


Pierre Jarry

On November 21st, 1971 rookie left winger Pierre Jarry made quite the impression.

Jarry scored his first career NHL goal at 11:03 of the second period. Eight seconds later his scored his second career goal. In doing so, Jarry tied a New York Rangers team record for the fastest two goals scored.

Classy veteran Jean Ratelle scored 4 times that night, overshadowing Jarry in the 12-1 win over the Oakland Seals. Jarry would score only 1 more goal in 33 other games that season before disappearing from the bright lights of Broadway altogether.

Buy Jarry would resurface, playing in over 300 NHL games in the 1970s with the Leafs, Wings and North Stars. He showed the odd flash of offensive promise, scoring 19 in Toronto and 21 in Minnesota when he teamed with playmaking center Tim Young. In that season with Minny he was voted as the Stars most popular player by the fans.

He was a fairly soft forward, lacking the physical ability to win many battles in the violent 1970s. He was a dangerous one-on-one player and a streaky scorer. But he rarely passed the puck and was also suspect defensively.

Pierre Jarry retired in 1978 with 344 games played. In that time he scored 88 goals, 117 assists for 205 points.



Ulf Dahlen

Ulf Dahlen was quietly one of the more intelligent players of his generation. He had a number of good skills but every bit as important he really understood the intricacies of the game.

Dahlen was not your typical Swedish important when he arrived in the mid 1980s with the New York Rangers. His game was not based on speed. In fact he was an unusual though deceptive skater. In stead he used great balance and core body strength to protect the puck with his body expertly. He was extremely effective down low and in the corners and on the boards. He would then drive to the net or find an open man with a strong pass. In a different era he would have been the perfect fit to compliment the Sedin Twins.

The Rangers drafted Dahlen 7th overall in 1985, taking him over the likes of Calle Johanson, Joe Nieuwendyk and Sean Burke. And hey why not - Dahlen was being championed as a new breed of European player, combining hockey sense, good hands and a dominating physical game. He dominated at the 1985 European junior championships, captaining Sweden to a gold medal.

After fulfilling his mandatory military training Dahlen came to North America in 1987 after helping his native Umea win the Swedish championship and earning a bronze medal at the World Championships.

After 3 seasons of challenging the 30 goal mark the Rangers moved Dahlen to Minnesota in exchange for star sniper Mike Gartner. It was in Minny that Dahlen is best associated with. He enjoyed his finest seasons there, pushing the 35 goal and 75 point mark.

Yet it was not exactly an easy time for Dahlen. Ownership problems would see the team split into two and the franchise split with half the players moving to Dallas and the other half heading to San Jose. Apparently there was a back room deal between the North Stars and San Jose a full year before the Sharks actually took to the ice. Dahlen would go to San Jose but Minnesota had the right to kill the deal at any point that season. Those close to the situation said it was hard on Dahlen who felt the pressure of auditioning for a job with his own team on a nightly basis. He played well though, and the Stars kept him as they moved to Dallas.

Interestingly, before the end of the first season in Dallas the Sharks did get their wish, and acquired Dahlen in a trade for defensemen Mike Lalor and Doug Zmolek. Dahlen played admirably in 4 seasons in San Jose, but the goals were hard to come by as the expansion Sharks were one of the worst teams in NHL history.

By the time the Sharks were getting better Dahlen was moved along and began the vagabond days that older hockey players often experience near the end of their careers. Dahlen spent half a season in Chicago, 2 seasons back home with HV71 in the Swedish Elite League, 3 seasons in Washington before one final season in Dallas.

All said, Ulf Dahlen played 966 career NHL games over 14 seasons, scoring 301 goals, 354 assists and 655 points. He was a very solid, often under-appreciated NHL player.



Mario Thyer

Mario Thyer signed with the Minnesota North Stars as a free agent after playing two seasons at the University of Maine. He was a standout in his freshman year, scoring 68 points in 44 games. He went 9-7-16 in 9 games before breaking his leg in his sophomore season.

Despite the injuries and two years of college eligibility remaining, the North Stars signed the talent but diminutive center. Thyer ended up dropping out of college to turn pro immediately, as the Stars felt his development as a hockey player would improve if he took his game to the next level. Thyer joined the Stars IHL affiliate, the Kalamazoo Wings.

Mario showed flashes of brilliance in his first professional season in 1989-90. In 68 games the speedy center netted 19 goals and added 42 assists for 61 points while taking only 6 minor penalties. He also got what proved to be his only shot at the NHL as he went scoreless in 5 games with Minnesota.

Thyer had NHL speed and NHL puck skills, but lacked NHL size. He weighed only 170lbs, and a center ice its rare to find such a puny pivot. His lack of size would be his biggest obstacle to playing in the NHL..

Thyer returned to Kalamazoo for the 1990-91 season and scored 15 goals, 51 assists and 66 points. 1991-92 was an injury plagued season for Thyer, who did scored 17 goals and 45 points in  46 games with Kalamazoo before he was traded on March 10, 1992. The Stars felt they had enough small and soft centers with names like Dave Gagner, Neal Broten and Mike Modano already on the big club and were looking for a hulking centerman for their playoff run. The Stars traded Thyer to the New York Rangers in exchange for big Mark Janssens.

However Thyer's stay with the Rangers was short. He finished the 1991-92 season with the Rangers farm team before he was traded back to Minnesota on July 16, 1992. Thyer was unhappy because he knew there was little chance he could crack the big club in Minnesota. He ended up playing with the IHL's Cincinnati Cyclones that year, but struggled through a 13 goal, 49 point season in 77 games.

Thyer only played in 3 games in 1993-94 before he decided to hang up the blades. He knew he was never likely to make the NHL and decided to get on with his life.



Shawn Chambers

Pretty much everybody has the same mental image of Shawn Chambers, whether they realize it or not. That's because he was the Minnesota North Stars defenseman Mario Lemieux deked to the ice back in game 2 of the 1991 Stanley Cup final. It is one of the most famous goals in all of hockey history:

Chambers should not feel too bad. Super Mario made quite a few players look silly in his career.

Chambers was actually a pretty solid defenseman over the course of his 625 NHL game career with Minnesota, Washington, Tampa Bay, New Jersey and Dallas. As he matured he learned to play within his limitations, the true sign of valuable depth defender.

He was not a top line defender, but he was pretty under-rated as a depth blue liner. After all, in his time in New Jersey he paired with the great Scott Stevens, and that pairing shouldered the load against the opposition's top lines night after night.

Chambers had a reputation as not much of a physical player, which was unfair. He was average sized for a NHL defenseman at 6'2" and 200lbs but he didn't shy away from throwing clean bodychecks. While his hits may not have rattled the glass spectacularly, he played with enthusiasm, especially when getting lots of ice time.

That said, Chambers was probably best described as intellectual defender. He had great anticipation and sense of positioning. He understood the game and could read on-coming attacks expertly. With little fanfare he would diffuse attacks with a quick stick and short breakout passes.

Offensively Chambers was best described as efficient. His skating would not dazzle anyone. He would rather safely pass the puck out of the zone than lug it. His shot was nothing special though because he could get his soft wrist shots pass shot blockers and to the front of the net, he would often eat up 2nd unit power play minutes.

Chambers played in 645 NHL games, scoring 50 goals, 185 assists for 235 points. Mario Lemieux may have ruined his Stanley Cup dreams back in 1991, but Chambers does have two Stanley Cup championship rings - with New Jersey in 1995 and Dallas in 1999.



Lou Nanne

Lou Nanne grew up in Sault Ste. Marie,Ont. together with the Esposito brothers. He went on to attend and play for University of Minnesota (WCHA) between 1959-63. Lou showed great leadership qualities in his early years and was the captain for the Golden Gophers in his senior year (1962-63). The same season he became the first WCHA defenseman ever to lead the league in scoring and was named the MVP of the WCHA as well as being selected as an All-American All-Star.

After graduating from University of Minnesota he served as an assistant coach for the team. Before signing a pro contract he was a salesman for a chemical firm and became a U.S. Citizen. He played two seasons for the Rochester Mustangs (USHL) between 1965-67 averaging over a point per game. Shortly thereafter he was the captain of the 1968 U.S. Olympic team.

Lou quickly got the reputation of being a good team man, adept at killing penalties. He made his NHL debut shortly after his Olympic adventure and appeared in two games for the Minnesota North Stars, an organization that he would stay in for over 20 years. During the 1968-69 seasons he had brief stints with the Memphis South Stars (CHL) and Cleveland Barons (AHL) before playing in the NHL for good.

During the 1971-72 season, North Stars coach Jack Gordon used Lou as a forward (right wing) for the first time in the NHL and Lou responded with a respectable 21 goals and 49 points. The next two seasons he scored 15 goals respectively 11 goals and developed into a fine checking forward who often was matched against the other teams top lines.

His offensive output was limited the last years until he retired in 1978. Lou played a total of 635 games and scored 225 points (68 goals and 157 assists). He also represented USA during the 1976 and 1977 World Championships.

During the 1977 tournament his play was criticized loudly by team USA coach John Mariucci, who had coached Nanne previously at the University of Minnesota. The usually mild-mannered Nanne charged his coach and the two men were soon trading punches on the bench in the middle of the game. Peace was restored by teammates but the fight erupted again right after the game, necessitating a mass intervention by players and officials.

The incident came as a shocker since both men were North Stars employees and longtime friends. Mariucci had been Nanne's coach at the U. of Minnesota and the two remained close friends when Nanne went on to play for the North Stars and Mariucci became one of the teams scouts.

When Nanne was named the coach and GM of the North Stars in February 1978, who did he name as his assistant GM? Mariucci of course. It was typical Nanne. "Sweet Lou from the Soo" held his GM position with the North Stars until 1988.

For his many contributions to hockey in the United States, Nanne was honored as a recipient of the 1989 Lester Patrick award.

In 2010 Lou Nanne released his autobiography: A Passion To Win



Kari Takko

There have been a lot of trades in NHL history. My favorite? On November 22nd, 1990 the Minnesota North Stars traded him to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a defenseman named Bruce Bell. The transaction proved to be entirely insignificant, but it will live on forever in the annals of hockey lore as "the Takko-Bell Trade."

Kari Takko was a goalie from Uusikaupunki, Finland. The Quebec Nordiques originally drafted Takko in 1981, but he reentered the draft and became property of the Minnesota North Stars in 1984. He had developed a decent reputation as a prospect thanks to solid play at the World Juniors and at the 1984 Olympics.

Takko, a stand up goalie who relied on playing the angles, debuted with the North Stars in 1986, and for four seasons he split goaltending duties firstly Don Beaupre and then Jon Casey, with fellow Finn Jarmo Myllys seemingly always knocking on the door. Success was hard to come by in Minnesota at that time, however. Takko's GAA and save percentage were down right brutal, and losses mounted faster than the wins. Shingles in his ear did not help one year, but Minny's poor defense really ailed him.

The Oilers traded for Takko in 1990 after Grant Fuhr was indefinitely suspended for cocaine use. Takko backed up Bill Ranford, playing in just 11 games. The Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup that year, but Takko was not part of that championship. When Fuhr returned, the Oilers tried assigning Takko to the minor leagues. Takko balked at that, and retired instead.

Takko did return to Europe and played in Finland and later Sweden until 2000. He would later serve as a European scout for the Dallas Stars.

Kari Takko's son, Karri Takko, would grow up to play professional hockey in Finland.



Peter Lappin

Peter Lappin was a crafty collegiate player who developed from a long shot into a prospect. However he never was able to make the next step to the NHL despite some fine seasons in the International Hockey League.

Peter played college hockey at St. Lawrence University, leading the school to the 1988 NCAA Finals. His accolades during his collegiate career included being named ECAC Player of the Year and earned berths on the ECAC All-Star Team, NCAA All-American Team and NCAA All-Tournament Team.

He was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the supplemental draft but never made an appearance in a Flames jersey. Upon the end of the collegiate season in 1988 Lappin joined the Flames' IHL affiliate in Salt Lake City. He only appeared in the final 3 games of the regular season before he led Golden Eagles to a Turner Cup Championship with a playoff leading 16 goals and 28 points in 17 games. For his heroic performance he was rewarded by being named the IHL Playoff MVP.

Lappin went to the Flames training camp in 1988 but the 5'11" 180lb right wing from St. Charles, Illinois was buried int the Flames incredible depth. The Flames were already set at right wing with names like Hakan Loob, Joey Mullen, Lanny McDonald, and Tim Hunter. Over the course of the next seasons the Flames would add names like Sergei Makarov, Sergei Priahkin, Mark Hunter and Theo Fleury. This incredible list of wingers obviously meant that Lappin was well down on the priority list.

Lappin was sent back to Salt Lake in 1988-89 and lit up the league scoring 48 goals and 90 points in 81 games. The Flames traded Lappin to Minnesota for a draft pick in 1989. Although he would appear in 6 games with the North Stars, the bulk of his season was again played in the IHL, scoring 45 goals and 80 points with the Stars' affiliate in Kalamazoo.

After a poor training camp, Lappin would play the entire 1990-91 season in Kalamazoo, but sllipped to 20 goals and 67 points. The following summer Lappin became a member of the San Jose Sharks organization as the expansion team selected him from Minnesota in a Dispersal Draft. However Lappin appeared in only one game with the Sharks. He spent most of what to be proved to be his final season of hockey in the minors with the IHL's Kansas City Blades, scoring 28 goals and 58 points in 78 games.

Lappin collected no points in his 7 NHL appearances.



Wayne Connelly

Even at the best of times, Wayne Connelly's NHL memories were mixed.

During the most prolific goal scoring season of his National Hockey League career, Connelly endured the pain of losing not only a teammate but an extremely close friend one night.

On January 13, 1968, Minnesota North Stars Bill Masterton became the first and only player to die as a result of injuries suffered during an NHL game. The Oakland Seals were in Minnesota that night when Masterton took a hard but clean body check from Seals defenseman Ron Harris. Masterton fell awkwardly and cracked his head on the ice at the Met Center, suffering a brain injury that cost him his life two days later.

"That expansion season brings back happy and sad memories for me," recalls Connelly. "I had a career high 35 goals with Minnesota that year and I'll never forget all our goals in a 3-2 win over Montreal at the Met Center in March.

"But I guess I'll best remember that season for the death of my pal, Bill Masterton. It was a shocking incident that put a damper on an otherwise excellent first year for the North Stars."

Connelly was the right winger on a line centered by Masterton. Dave Balon played on left wing.

Connelly constantly relives Masterton's fateful fall.

"We'd just crossed center ice when Bill fed a pass over to my wing," Connelly recalls. "Oakland's Ron Harris really belted him with a clean body check and Bill lost his balance and catapulted backwards, hitting his head on the ice with a sickening thud. They took Bill off on a stretcher and that was the last time we saw him."

"He was a super'd never meet a nicer guy or harder working guy. I still think of him quite often" says Connelly many years later.

Connelly began his NHL career as a 21 year old in 1960-61 when he played three games with the defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens.

Montreal sold his contract to Boston that summer, but in his next six seasons as a pro, he never was more than a fringe player with the Bruins. His personal bests before joining Minnesota were 64 games played and 13 goals.

Connelly, like many fringe players, benefited greatly from expansion. The Stars took him from Boston in the expansion draft on June 1967, and then turned his explosive 35 goal season.

By 1969 Connelly was moved to Detroit and scored 23 goals in 1969-70. He later played stints with St. Louis and Vancouver.

He jumped back to Minnesota in 1972-73. However it wasn't with the NHL Stars, but the WHA Fighting Saints. He enjoyed seasons of 40, 42 and 38 goals before moving on to Cleveland, Calgary and Edmonton. He retired in 1976-77.

In 10 NHL seasons Connelly scored 133 times and picked up 174 assists. He added 167 goals and 162 assists in 5 WHA seasons.



Bob Brooke

Bob Brooke was an honest, hard working role player who had the versatility to play all positions, including defense, though was used primarily at center and on right wing. Nowadays he is one of the brightest minds in the business world.

An economics major from Yale (where he also played shortstop on the baseball team), Brooke joined the New York Rangers after a season with the United States national team in 1983. The Melrose, Massachusetts native would enjoy his finest statistical season in his second season with the Rangers, scoring 24 goals and 44 points. The Rangers traded Brooke to Minnesota early in 1986. Brooke would enjoy 3 and 1/2 seasons with Minny before splitting his final NHL season with the Stars and New Jersey Devils in 1989-90.

In total, the former NCAA All American and 1983 Hobey Baker finalist played in 447 NHL contests, scoring 69 goals and 97 assists for 166 points. He also added 9 goals and 9 assists in 34 playoff games, as well as representing the US National team at two World Championships and two Canada Cup tournaments.

That is an amazing career, but the highlight might have been representing USA at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. 

Brooke was a splendid skater with lots of strength, speed and balance. At 6'1" and 205 lbs, he combined his speed and great upper body strength to ceaselessly work in the corners. A solid faceoff man, Brooke also had excellent hockey sense which he used to become a good defensive stalwart.

With such gifts as speed, strength and hockey sense, you are probably wondering why Bob Brooke never became much of a scorer. The reason for that is he had terrible hands. He didn't possess a great shot and even had trouble taking and receiving passes. Too bad, because Brooke was a splendid team player who deserved better individual statistics than he had in his 6 year NHL career.

Brooke spent many off-seasons working on Wall Street and Boston area banks. After retiring from hockey, Brooke earned his MBA from Harvard. He returned to the Boston area to work in the banking industry.



Minnesota North Stars Greatest Players

Minnesota North Stars Legends
Neal Broten
Dino Ciccarelli  
Craig Hartsburg

Bill Masterton
Bobby Smith
Gump Worsley

Other Notable North Stars

Warren Babe
Don Beaupre

Scott Bjugstad

Jon Casey
Ray Cullen

Jude Drouin
Gaetan Duchesne
Dave Gagner  
Barry Gibbs

Danny Grant
Dennis Hextall
Al MacAdam
Cesare Maniago  
Dennis Maruk
Brad Maxwell

Tom McCarthy 
Basil McRae
Gilles Meloche  
Wayne Muloin

Frank Musil

Danny O'Shea

Brad Palmer

Steve Payne
Alex Pirus

Gump Worsley
Tim Young



Jude Drouin

Just 5'10" and 160lbs, Jude Drouin had to overcome to stereotype of being much too small to play in the National Hockey League. But with brilliant puckhandling abilities, Drouin became an effective playmaking center and power play specialist.

Like many Quebecois youngsters, Drouin dreamed of someday playing with the Montreal Canadiens. Drouin had the chance to actually live his dream. However it was very short - just 12 games. Despite lighting up the minor leagues in his first three seasons as a professional, the natural center only got two stints in Montreal.

Drouin was traded to Minnesota for Bill Collins in 1970. It was probably a bittersweet day for Drouin, who felt rejected and dejected. However at the same time, he knew if he was going to play in the NHL, it would not be with the famously deep Habs.

With his puck on a string puckhandling abilities, Drouin immediately became a star as a rookie in Minnesota. He noticed 16 goals and a then-NHL-rookie record of 52 assists for 68 points in his first year.

Many fans may best remember Drouin's rookie season for an incident with referee Bruce Hood. In a February game against Pittsburgh Drouin struck Hood on the shoulder with his hockey stick. For his assaulting of the official he received only a $150 fine and a three game suspension.

Over the next 4 years, he became an important, though sometimes streaky, cog of the Minnesota North Stars. His best year came in 1972-73 when he tallied 27 goals and 73 points, third best on the team.

The New York Islanders added Drouin to their lineup in the middle of the 1974-75 season. Looking for a bit more offense, the Isles got three good years out of Drouin, especially in the playoffs where the Islanders were renowned for their struggles. But by 1977-78 Drouin became a bit part on the squad and retired from the league in the off-season, choosing to focus on his chain of seafood restaurants on Long Island.

Drouin ended his retirement one year later when the Winnipeg Jets offered Drouin a contract. Drouin played 78 games in 1979-80, but just 7 more in 1980-81 before retiring for good.



Jon Casey

Jon Casey was quite an unorthodox goalie. He seemed to naturally be a scrambling, reflexive goalie who, through years of professional coaching, tried morphing into a classic, play-the-angles netminder.

However he tried stopping the puck, obviously it worked. For a period of about 5 years he was a bona fide number one goalie in the National Hockey League,. He was never a serious threat to win the Vezina Trophy, but he did get his team to a Stanley Cup finals.

Regardless of his accomplishments, most will remember Jon Casey for being on the wrong side of two of the most famous goals in Stanley Cup history.

A Grand Rapids, Minnesota native, Casey didn't travel far for his collegiate career. He played in net for the University of North Dakota from 1980-1984, and was named to the Western Collegiate Association (WCHA) First All-Star team for the 1981-82 and 1983-84 seasons. He also earned a nod on the WCHA Second All-Star team in 1983 and the WCHA All-American team in 1984. The team took home the NCAA championship twice (1980, 1982) during his tenure.

Casey left UND in 1984, signing as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota North Stars. For the next four years he spend most of his time working on his game at the AHL and IHL levels. In 1985, Casey had a stellar season. He was named to the AHL All-Star team, won the Harry `Hap'' Holmes Memorial Award (fewest goals against), and Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award for outstanding goaltending. Finally, in 1988 Casey made his NHL debut. That season, he made 55 appearances, the first of six consecutive 50+ game seasons.

In 1990-1991, Casey helped the team make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Penguins star Mario Lemieux split North Stars defensemen Neil Wilkinson and Shawn Chambers to beat Casey. The Stars lost the series, and that moment is the first of Casey used in the 2010 “History Will Be Made” NHL play-off commercials.

After two more seasons with the Stars and an All-Star appearance in 1993, Casey was traded to Boston as part of a deal for Andy Moog that also sent Gord Murphy to the Stars. After one season with the Bruins, he signed as a free agent with the Blues. Again, he helped his team to the Cup finals, this time against Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings. The series went to the second overtime of Game Seven, when Yzerman beat Casey with a shot rifled over his shoulder. It was a bitter moment for Casey and Blues fans, and the second moment used in the 2010 play-off ads.

After one more season with the Blues, Casey played one season with the Worchester Ice Cats and finished his career with the Kansas City Ice Blades, retiring in December 1997.

After retiring he returned to school to complete his degree at college in St. Charles, Missouri.



Tom McCarthy

Did you know that Wayne Gretzky was not the 1st player chosen in the 1977 OHA midget draft? Despite being known as a national prodigy since the age of 6, Gretzky actually was chosen third by Sault Ste. Marie.

Drafted #2 was a kid named Steve Peters, and he never amounted to much as far as the NHL was concerned, playing in just 2 games with the old Colorado Rockies. Niagara Falls selected Peters over Gretzky only because the Gretzky family had said Wayne would not play anywhere other than Peterborough. (The Petes had the 4th pick, but plans were foiled when the Soo Greyhounds took Gretzky anyways. Gretzky did eventually report.)

Going first overall to Oshawa was a big strapping winger named Tom McCarthy. McCarthy went on to a great junior career, and was considered the top underaged draft eligible player in 1979. The Minnesota North Stars selected McCarthy 10th overall.

Nicknamed "Jughead" or just "Jug" due to his resemblance to the Archie comics character, McCarthy played nine seasons, scoring 178 goals and 221 assists for 399 points in 460 games with Minny and Boston. His best years were with Minnesota. In the 1982-83 season he scored 76 points in 80 games. The following season McCarthy had 70 points in 60 regular season games playing on a line with Dino Ciccarelli and Neal Broten.

McCarthy's size gave him presence, and it was amplified by his agility, speed and creativity as well as his willingness to go into high traffic areas (at least in the offensive zone). His goal scoring totals and creativity playing along side Ciccarelli and Broten certainly made him even more noticeable, although his coaches probably were more annoyed with his lack of a defensive game and at-times lazy work ethic.

McCarthy was a popular player in Minnesota. For a time he owned and operated a fish and chips restaurant in the area called "McCarthy's: Just for the Halibut" which was a popular eatery.

Injuries plagued McCarthy during his career. He missed nearly half of the 1984-85 regular season and part of the 1985 playoffs due to vision trouble resulting from a concussion suffered when he was punched by Tiger Williams in a Feb.14, 1985 game. At other times in his career he also injured his back in car accident, broke a bone in his back when he crashed into the goal post, and missed time with a paralyzed face as he was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy.

McCarthy also had problems off the ice. He struggled with alcoholism during his years in Minnesota and spent time at the Betty Ford Clinic. He was arrested in 1994 by the FBI and pleaded guilty to driving a truckload of marijuana from California to Minnesota. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, in which he served time in several jails in both USA and Canada. During his time in Leavenworth, Kansas he organized a prison hockey school.

Fortunately McCarthy was able to clean his life up after getting out of prison. He returned to hockey, coaching youth in the greater Toronto area.



Wayne Muloin

Wayne Muloin had a long minor league career before earning a regular spot in the NHL.

He played for the Edmonton Flyers (WHL) and Edmonton Oil Kings (CAHL) between 1960-63. During the 1963-64 season Wayne played for Detroit Red Wings farm team, the Cincinnati Wings (CHL). Wayne had 15 points and 169 Pims.

His fine aggressive play got him his first shot at the NHL. He made his NHL debut at the Chicago Stadium on January 29, 1964, where his Red Wings battled to a 2-2 tie. He only dressed for two more Red Wings games, a 9-2 loss to Montreal (Feb.1) and a 2-2 tie vs Toronto (Feb.2). Wayne registered one assist in the three games.

During the summer of 1964 he was acquired by NY Rangers. Wayne spent the entire 1964-65 season playing for the St.Paul Rangers (CHL). Wayne then continued with his minor league stint, playing for the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL (1965-66) and four seasons for the Providence Reds (AHL) between 1965-68. It looked like Wayne was destined to finish his career in the minor leagues. Then came training camp 1969.

Wayne remembered the time.

"Oakland Seals invited me to camp and I decided to play it really aggressive," Wayne recalled. " I racked up guys like Carol Vadnais and Mike Laughton woth some good hits and they had to keep me around."

The 28-year old Wayne had finally earned a regular spot on a NHL team on the basis of his hard-nosed style of play. His offensive skills were negligible though. Wayne was a hitter from the old school typified by belters like Leo Boivin. Wayne wasn't in the same class as Boivin when it came to hitting but his low built allowed him to get low when he was throwing a check which many times lifted the opponents in the air. Wayne was a capable puckhandler but had a really weak shot. Something that Wayne was very aware of.

"We were in Philadelphia one night early in the 69-70 season and for some reason, I was on the powerplay," Wayne recalled. " I wound up to take a shot from the left point and Flyers defenseman Ed Van Impe slid in front of me at the last second. I don't know what Ed was thinking, but my weak shot hit him right in the mouth and messed him up pretty badly. It was an awful sight - blood was everywhere - but Ed got patched up and came back for the third period. He was a tough old bird."

The shot by Wayne knocked out six of Van Impe's teeth, which was exactly double the number of goals Wayne managed to score in 158 NHL games (11 of them in the playoffs).

Wayne vividly remembered the 1970-71 season when the eccentric Charles O.Finley purchased Oakland and re-named it the California Golden Seals.

"Boy was he a character," Wayne said. " He made us wear those stupid white skates and everywhere we played, the fans would blow kisses at us. It was kind of humiliating. I also remember the time he bought a bunch of chimpanzees out on the ice in Oakland for a penalty shot contest early in the season. I knew we were in for a rough year when one of the chimps scored on Gary Smith."

Wayne was right. The California team ended up with the NHL's worst record (20-53-5). In March 1971 Wayne was traded to Minnesota. He only played 7 games for them during the regular season and 7 more in the playoffs.

In 1971-72 he was back in the minors again where he captained the Cleveland Barons (AHL). In August 1972 Wayne signed with the Cleveland Crusaders of the newly formed WHA. He spent four solid seasons on the Crusaders blueline, scoring his most memorable goal for the team. Wayne scored the final goal in the Cleveland Arena - the 9,500 seat rink at Euclid and 33rd St.

" It was an overtime goal in the 1974 playoffs against Toronto Toros. I leaned into a shot from outside the blue line and it went past Gilles Gratton. We went back to Toronto two nights later and lost the series. The next year, we moved into the brand new Richfield Coliseum" Wayne said.

Wayne was traded to the Edmonton Oilers (WHA) in January,1976 but only played 10 games for the Oilers. He played a total of 258 WHA games (10+43 = 53). Wayne's last active season was in 1976-77 when he played for the Rhode Island Reds (AHL).

-- Special thanks to Patrick Houda


Ray Cullen

Ray was one of three Cullen brothers who played in the NHL. His older brothers Brian and Barry played a total of 570 NHL games in the 1950's and 60's.

Ray played in the Chicago Blackhawks organization early on, which included four seasons in the juniors with the St.Catharines Teepees (OHA), a club where Hall of Famers like Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Phil Esposito also had played.

Playing with the likes of Pat Stapleton, Vic Hadfield, Chico Maki, Dennis Hull, Doug Jarrett and Roger Crozier, Ray put up very solid career numbers with the Teepees. He had 262 points (127 goals and 135 assists) in 197 games and was OHA's top goal scorer during the 1959-60 season. That season the Teepees defeated the Edmonton Oil Kings to win the Memorial Cup as Canadian junior champions.

Throughout Ray's junior career he was told that he was a bad skater. Ray later said that it was a blow to his confidence and that it affected his play.It all changed when Ray started his senior career with the Knoxville Knights of the EHL in 1962-63. He scored a fine 66 goals and 109 points in 67 games. He made the 1st All-Star team and was named the EHL rookie of the year.

Ray admitted that he got his confidence back while playing for Knoxville.

" I never heard a thing about being a bad skater. I think the combination of playing so much and not being told about my skating did more for me than anything else. I regained confidence in myself."

Interestingly, Chicago did not want Ray to go to the EHL, but he had an offer he could not refuse.

"The most Chicago would offer was a $500 signing bonus and $3,500 to turn pro in the Central League," said Ray. "Ray Miron was running Knoxville in the Eastern League, and he offered $5,500 so I went with him."

Some people were knocking the EHL and thought that playing there would hurt Ray's future NHL career. Ray disagreed though.

"The EHL was composed of a lot of ex-pros,and while they may have lost their legs they hadn't lost their brains. They played mean hockey in that league. You learned to keep your head up, or you wound up in a hospital."

While Ray would never change anything about his days in Knoxville, one has to wonder how spurning the Hawks wishes may have set his career back in some ways. In those days you did not dare go against a team's wishes, as that quickly earned you a trouble-maker label. Teams buried many talented players in the minor leagues back in the Original Six days simply out of spite.

The next season, 1963-64, Ray played for the St. Louis Braves in the CHL and put up another very fine season which saw him score 98 points in 63 games. He was a 1st team All-Star. In 1964-65 Ray Move up to the AHL to play for the Buffalo Bisons. He was an instant hit, scoring the winning goal in his first game and then three games later scored a hat trick. He played on a line with two other rookies, Oscar Gaudet and Jack Stanfield. Ray's fine season earned him the AHL rookie of the year award.

After that season Chicago traded him to the NY Rangers in a six-player deal in June, 1965. Ray got his first taste of NHL action during the 1965-66 season when he played eight games (scoring 4 points) for the NY Rangers. He played the rest of the season in the AHL.

Ray was then claimed by Detroit in the intra-league draft in 1966 for $30,000. He was on his way to earn himself a spot on the Red Wings opening roster in 1966-67, but he suffered an injury after a freak accident during training camp where he got a fracture on his hand after it was pinned against the wood in the boards. It sidelined him for over a month. Ray eventually played 27 games (scoring 16 points) with the Red Wings and 28 games with the Pittsburgh Hornets in the AHL.

While with the Wings the team thought enough of him to move Alex Delvecchio to left wing and play Cullen at center with Gordie Howe. What a thrill that must have been.

"I remember one game I got two early goals and Gordie, who was my roommate, just told me to get in front of the net. He spent the rest of the night digging the puck out for me, but I never did get the third one. Gordie was the greatest guy in the world to play with. That was his 20th season but I remember him telling me the one fear he had was the day he would have to quit hockey."

Ray's big break came when the expansion came. He was claimed by Minnesota North Stars in the 1967 expansion draft. For the first time Ray was a regular in the NHL. He had a very fine first season with Minnesota, scoring 28 goals and 53 points in 67 games and another 8 points in 14 playoff games. The next season 1968-69, Ray increased his production to 64 points (including 26 goals) in 67 games.

He had another solid season with the North Stars before being claimed by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1970 expansion draft. Ray added some valuable experience to the Canucks lineup and was used a lot in powerplay situations. He had 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points in 70 games for the first year Canucks.

That 1970-71 season proved to be Ray's last as he put his family before his career.

"I had children going to school and that was the first time I didn't take my family with me, and I didn't enjoy it."

Ray, like both of his brothers before him, retired from professional hockey at the age of 29. Ray played a total of 313 games and scored a 92 goals, 123 assists for 215 points in his career.

He joined brother Brian in the car dealership business in London, Ontario. To this day he remains a very successful car salesman.



Alex Pirus

This is Alex Pirus. As a rookie in 1976-77 Pirus made a big bang with the Minnesota North Stars.

Pirus was one of seven rookies used regularly by the North Stars that season, with stylish Roland Eriksson and dependable Glen Sharpley also of note. But it was the 6'1" 205 winger Pirus who drew much of the praise from coach Ted Harris.

"Alex Pirus hits harder than anybody I've ever seen in a North Stars jersey," said Harris. The coach probably didn't mind Pirus' unexpected offensive contributions either. The 41st overall pick in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft chipped in with 20 goals and 37 points, many of those in the second half of the season.

Pirus took the unusual route to the NHL. Very few NCAA players advanced to the NHL in the 1970s. But Pirus actually left the University of Notre Dame early to compete in professional hockey. The honours business student made his business crunching NHL bodies and scoring goals.

"Checking is a better part of my game," said Pirus. "Keeps me awake and more involved in the game. I don't look for an individual guy and pick him out to check. If a guy is there for a check, I hit him."

Yet Pirus was a clean player. He only picked up 47 penalty minutes in that freshman season. He had one notable fight though, wrestling Dave "The Hammer" Schultz to the ice with few punches thrown.

"I don't fight unless someone gives me a cheap shot or a spear. I don't mind taking a hard hit - that doesn't bother me. Now if I get infuriated, that's something else again."

Despite the promise, Alex Pirus soon disappeared from the NHL scene. He suffered through a terrible sophomore campaign, scoring just 9 goals and finishing the year in the minors. From that point on he was mostly a minor league player, getting call ups with the North Stars and briefly with the Detroit Red Wings. He would play in a total of 159 NHL games, scoring 30 goals and 58 points. 

Pirus completed his business degree at Notre Dame in the summer of 1978. His life took a different turn altogether after hockey. He found religion, but remained active in the hockey world. He served as a minister and a leading figure with Hockey Ministries International, combining hockey and religion in summer camps. He also has served as the chaplain for Chicago Blackhawks and AHL Chicago Wolves players.


Warren Babe

Warren Babe is probably best remembered for being the victim on a Patrick Roy lumberjack attack in 1987. Babe, Minnesota's 1st choice, 12th overall in the 1986 Entry Draft, was just a green rookie when he was viciously slashed in the leg by Roy on October 19th, 1987. Roy would be suspended for eight games, while Babe missed a month of action.

Babe was a pretty promising prospect, blessed with size and strength and good goal scoring ability, at least in junior. But he never got a chance to prove himself at the professional level. Soon after he returned from the Roy incident he was sent back to junior to complete the season. He would only get into two more seasons of play, mostly in the minor leagues, thanks to a series of concussions.

The most serious concussion Babe encountered was during an exhibition game prior to the 1990-91 season. Winnipeg's Shawn Cronin slashed Babe for his 14th documented concussion. On doctor's advice he sat out the entire season. He tried come back in the 1990-91 season, playing with Minnesota's farm team in Kalamazoo, but he retired at the end of the year after suffering another concussion.

The once-promising, strapping, Trevor Linden-like kid from Medicine Hat, Alberta only had a chance to play in 21 NHL games over 4 injury devastated seasons.



Barry Gibbs

Barry Gibbs is the reason this website exists.

When I was 5 years old, my father took me to the local landfill to drop off some tree branches and grass clippings. While he unloaded the debris, I was awestruck with this small piece of cardboard I found in the dirt.

It was a Barry Gibbs hockey card. O-Pee-Chee card number 304 of the 1979-80 hockey card set, pictured to the right.

Before that I don't recall having any hockey memories. But from that moment on I was enthralled by the game, and the players who made it great. I picked up the card and read the teasing of information about him on the back. I had to know more.

Realizing that this was card #304, I concluded there must have been at least 303 other cards out there. I was somehow able to gather a bunch of them, though not all. I got sick on the bubble gum trying too! But I was hooked on hockey - and learning about the players that captured my imagination on these small pieces of cardboard.

Ever since, I've been trying to learn as much as I can about hockey players, most of whom I've never seen play. I've read books and listened to interviews and tv shows. I digested anything I could. And it all started with that trip to the dump!.

This website is my way of sharing what I learn with the world. It is not just a hobby, but a passion - a labor of love.

By the way, Gibbs was a hard hitting, unheralded defenseman who played 800 games with Boston, Minnesota, Atlanta, St. Louis and Los Angeles, mostly in the 1970s.


Brad Palmer

Brad Palmer was a promising prospect who quickly disappeared.

Brad was a first round pick (16th overall in 1980) of the Minnesota North Stars after a fine junior career with the Victoria Cougars of the WHL. A native of nearby Duncan BC, Brad was a good skater who had a very heavy though not always accurate shot.

Brad joined the North Stars after completing the Junior season in 80-81, and played a big role in the North Stars Cinderella run to the 1981 Stanley Cup finals. After scoring 4 goals and 4 assists in 23 regular season NHL games, Brad scored 8 goals and 13 points in 19 playoff games. Things looked bright for the Stars. They had unexpectedly reach the Cup finals and boasted one of the best collection of young players in the league - Smith, Ciccarelli, Young, Hartsburg, Broten and yes, Brad Palmer.

In his first full season with Minnesota, 1981-82, he notched a respectable 22 goals and 45 points However the 1982 Entry Draft drastically affected Palmer's budding career. A young phenom named Brian Bellows was considered to be the best player available and was widely expected to go 1st overall to the Boston Bruins, who acquired the pick from the Colorado Rockies. The North Stars however drastically covetted Bellows and were prepared to do whatever it took to get him in a Minnesota uniform. The Stars first acquired the 2nd overall pick from Detroit in one trade. Then they traded Palmer along with Dave Donnelly to the Boston Bruins in exchange for "future considerations." Palmer and Donnelly were essentially given to the Bruins in exchange for Boston's promise not to select Bellows. Instead, Gord Kluzak went first overall in that Entry Draft.

Kluzak was a fine defenseman but had his career robbed by serious knee injuries. Donnelly never amounted to much, and Palmer quickly fizzled out in Boston. Bellows went on to a career spanning over 1000 games, nearly 500 goals and 1000 points. Needless to say it wasn't a great deal for the Bruins.

It wasn't a great deal for Palmer either. He had a tough time in his first year in Beantown. After tallying only 6 goals in the 82-83 season, Brad found himself in Hershey of the AHL for the 83-84 season. There was no interest in his services at the NHL level so he moved to Europe to play in the 84-85 season. He played in Switzerland that year and later played in Finland and Austria before retiring from hockey in 1990.


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