Sunday

Keith Carney

Keith Carney was an honest, basic defenseman who made up for a lack of foot speed with his uncanny ability to take the shortest path to the action. The cerebral rearguard was like a world-class pool player on the ice - he knew all the angles of the game.

"Carney is so smart positionally," said San Jose analyst Drew Remenda. "He's been in the league for so long and he knows the ice. I've always thought that he was one of the most underrated guys in the league because he knows the ice well, knows the angles well, and is a physical player."

This came as no surprise to his teammates, especially the goalies who he helped out all night long.

"What he is able to do out there, most people would never notice," said Jean Sebastien Giguere, his teammate in Anaheim. "He’s always calm and patient with the puck. He never seems to get rattled."

Steady and consistent play were hallmarks of Carney’s career even before he became an NHL pro. For three seasons, the blueliner from Providence, Rhode Island was a major contributor at the University of Maine, logging significant ice time in each of his years with the Black Bears.

Dependable and durable, the strong jawed Carney caught the eye of scouts as the young kid with veteran poise that would be a sought after addition on any NHL club. The Buffalo Sabres got a steal when they picked him 76th overall back in 1988.

So why was Carney passed over until pick No. 76? For the same reasons he was overlooked much of his career.

Carney had no flash to his game at all. He was hard working "hockey player's hockey player" who was almost as unassuming on the ice as he was off of it. His skating limited his offensive game, and, despite good size at 6'1" and 220lbs, he was never a punishing bodychecker.

What he was a dependable and composed defenseman who rarely made a mistake in his own zone. He could be counted on heavily while defending a lead in the third period or in key situations like a penalty kill. Coaches love players like Carney because they know exactly what they will get from him and can trust him to get the job done.

Carney never really had a chance to play in Buffalo but he became a NHL regular in 1994 when he joined the Chicago Blackhawks. Over the next 5 years he established his reputation as a journeyman defender, often pairing along side Chris Chelios.

He would move on to play in Phoenix and Anaheim, where he may have gained his greatest fame for his strong play in the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs. He made brief appearances in Vancouver, Minnesota and Bern, Switzerland before retiring in 2009.

Keith Carney played in 1018 NHL games, scoring 45 career goals, 183 assists and 228 points.

Read more...

Monday

Val Hoffinger

Who was the first Russian born player in the history of the National Hockey League? Here's a hint: it is not one of more modern Soviet players.

A lot of people believe the answer to be Chicago's Johnny Gottselig, who was born in Odessa, Russia but raised in Canada. Gottselig starred in the NHL from 1928 through 1945.

But the correct answer is another Chicago defenseman named Val Hoffinger. Hoffinger was born in Seltz, Russia but also raised in Canada. He only played in 28 games in the NHL, but he debuted in the 1927-28 season, beating Gottselig by just a smidge.

Hoffinger's life is quite the interesting story. He was certainly well travelled.

Born in Russia on New Year's day in 1903, he grew up in Salvador, Saskatchewan

Val Hoffinger will always be known as one of the most colourful athletes to come from Saskatchewan. Born on January 1, 1903, Hoffinger grew up in Salvador, Saskatchewan. He starred for the Saskatoon Sheiks before turning pro.

Unfortunately for Hoffinger, circumstances kept him in various minor hockey leagues and cities rather than the NHL. He did appear in 28 NHL contests, scoring just 1 lonely assist.

After retiring as a player in 1935  Hoffinger accepted a high paying offer to coach the German Olympic hockey team for the 1936 Olympics. He enjoyed coaching in Germany, but never intended on staying, especially given  the circumstances developing at that time.

The problem for Hoffinger was he was not allowed to take any of his earnings out of the country. So he decided he would leave with an education. He studied chiropody, better known today as podiatry, and became a foot doctor.

When Hoffinger returned to Canada in 1939 he open his practice in Toronto. Hoffinger became a foot doctor of the stars, so to speak, as he was the personal foot doctor to several movie stars including someone named Danny Kaye.

More interesting than that Hoffinger later married Bernice Scholls, daughter of the famous Dr. Scholls, and together they inherited the entire Scholls company.

Read more...

Thursday

Ron Murphy



Ron Murphy was a useful utility forward for nearly 900 NHL games. He was a Stanley Cup champion (1961) and a Memorial Cup champion (1952). But fans remember him mostly for an infamous and vicious stick-swinging incident with Montreal's Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.

Murphy was just a youngster at the time, 20 years old and with the New York Rangers. The Rangers beat the visiting Habs 3-1 on the night of December 20, 1953, but the most memorable part of that game came in the second period.  Boom Boom Geoffrion took a two-handed swing with his stick, striking Murphy on the left side of his face, breaking his jaw and leaving him with a concussion. Murphy was also guilty of swinging his stick, though he never made contact thanks in part to the linesman holding on to this stick with one hand.

Geoffrion, who actually missed Murphy on his first swing but attacked again, was suspended for five games, as well as for any further matches between the two teams that season including the playoffs. Murphy, who shockingly got up and skated off the ice on his own that night, missed the remainder of the season.

Murphy obviously survived the incident and did return to the NHL. He went on to a lengthy career playing in 889 regular season games with the Rangers, Chicago, Detroit and Boston. He scored 205 goals, 274 assists and 479 points.

“Ron can skate and he plays good positional hockey,” said Ranges' teammate Harry Howell. “He was one of those players who seemed to get around 10 to 15 goals a year and never better."

As Howell later noted, Murphy's best years came in Chicago.

“But he really changed when he went to Chicago three years ago,” Howell continued. “He told me he was never happier."

Murphy played a nice role on Chicago's Stanley Cup winning team in 1961. He scored a career high 21 goals that year.

Read more...

Saturday

Art Wiebe

For 10 seasons and over 400 NHL games Art Wiebe quietly patrolled the Chicago Blackhawks blue line. More often than not he and Earli Seibert formed an effective pairing.

From 1934 through 1944 Wiebe diligently took care of his own zone, rarely contributing much offensively. He scored a grand total of just 14 goals and 41 points in his career. 

Wiebe was also an excellent golfer and curler, winning amateur championships in both. After hanging up the blades Wiebe became the president of an oil drilling company while tending to his farm in Vermillion, Alberta. He originally retired from hockey to run a bakery in Vermillion.

Wiebe succumbed to cancer in 1971 at the age of 59.

Read more...

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP