Friday

Danny Grant

Danny Grant never got the credit he deserved for being a good hockey player.

A rare NHL player from New Brunswick, he was a junior star in Peterborough. He would sign professionally in the Montreal Canadiens system, but was never able to crack the Hab's vaunted line up.

Always thinking of the future, in 1968 the Habs moved Grant to Minnesota as part of a package for the North Stars' first round pick four years later in 1972. Montreal would select Dave Gardner, who would play 350 NHL games, but only 36 with Montreal. Meanwhile, Grant became a star with the North Stars.

Grant immediately cracked the Minnesota line up, scoring a team-leading 34 goals and earning NHL rookie of the year honours in the 1968-69 season. The 34 goals became the modern day rookie record (since bettered).

Grant would continue to be a top marksman for the North Stars over the following five seasons, only once failing to notch at least 29 goals in a campaign. Though defined by his wrist shot, he was also noted as a clever and durable winger, once playing in 566 consecutive games.

Grant did have his critics. He was not the swiftest of skaters, and he had to rely of hard work rather than glitzy skill that other teams' stars seemed to have. The North Stars had some pretty weak teams back then, which probably contributed to Grant's labelling as a one-way, offense only forward.

Looking to shake up the roster, the North Stars traded Grant to Detroit in exchange for defensive forward and Minnesota native Henry Boucha. What a lop-sided trade that turned out to be. Boucha would last only one season with the North Stars. Grant, on the other hand, erupted for his best NHL season yet.

Playing along side Marcel Dionne, Grant exploded for 50 goals and 87 points. He also was lauded for his defensive effort, and even became a regular on the penalty kill unit.

Still the critics persisted. Grant's success was directly a result of playing with Dionne. Grant did call Dionne the best linemate he ever had, but Dionne also had a great respect for Grant, once calling him the "the best left winger I ever played with. He was always working, had a great shot and was always near the net."

In the summer of 1975 the Red Wings lost their superstar as Dionne headed west to Los Angeles. Grant, by now named captain of the Wings, was left without his set up man, but a far bigger blow came late in 1975 when he suffered a torn right thigh muscle requiring season ending surgery.

The injury would plague him for the rest of his days. He would come back in 1976-77, but never could find his game. He would score just twice in 42 games.

1977-78 saw Grant's wishes fulfilled as he was traded to Los Angeles. Grant had hope being reunited with Marcel Dionne could reignite his career, but the injuries still hampered his effectiveness. In two seasons in LA he was limited to 41 and 35 games, respectively, scoring just 10 times in each campaign.

Danny Grant's excellence was short lived, but exciting to witness. It is a pity that injuries decimated the career of this hard working, diligent sharp shooter.

1 comments:

Anonymous,  March 7, 2017 at 7:16 AM  

As poor farm kids just starting a hockey program, we were lucky enough to get discarded equipment from the North Stars. A teammate's uncle did the laundry and was told to pass on anything he found, as the players would simply have it replaced. I therefore became the proud owner of Danny Grant's shoulder pads! I swore it improved my game, simply because I THOUGHT it did. I later went on to play further, and the lift I got from wearing a PRO players equipment cannot be denied. Funny things matter, don' t they? Thanks Danny. I am sure you could never have known this.

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