Tuesday

Kenny Wharram

Ken Wharram wasn't exactly an overnight success. He came out from Galt Black Hawks in the juniors appearing sporadically in the NHL between 1951-56. Most of the time he played in the AHL and the Buffalo Bisons were he racked up four stellar seasons (306 points in 244 games). He attended three training camps with Chicago before finally getting a regular spot on the team in 1958-59.

At 5'9" and 160Lbs he wasn't exactly the ideal NHL player, but the North Bay, Ontario native had great speed which was his greatest asset. He was also a tenacious worker who could put in some finesse into the game when needed. Ken also was one of the most accurate shooters in the NHL. He constantly finished among the top ten in shooting accuracy, leading the entire league in 1963-64, scoring on over 20 % of his shots.

Chicago's coach Rudy Pilous put Wharram on a line with fellow rookie Stan Mikita during the 19 58-59 season. Eventually the line would be rounded out by Ab McDonald, and later Doug Mohns, and be dubbed "The Scooter Line" due to their terrific speed.

"The Scooter Line was one of the most famous scoring combinations of the 1960s," wrote author Paul Greenland in his book "Hockey Chicago Style." "What made it click so well was the combination of Mikita's superior playmaking and athletic abilities, Wharram's speed and agility, and Mohns' size, checking ability and heavy slap shot.

Wharram and Mikita shared a special bond. Ken and Stan were in fact almost as inseparable off the ice as they were on the ice. They were very good friends.

Greenland also quotes Wharram's former teammate Ed Litzenberger. "Kenny could skate a 100 miles an hour, but he really didn't come into his own until he hooked up with Stan and Ab McDonald. Stan had the ability to slow the game down. Kenny would come from behind and would give him the puck, and he would put the puck in the net. Ab would grind it out of corners and it was a marriage of talent is what it was. Kenny was a quiet guy. A good guy."

The "Scooter Line" was feared all around the league during the late 1960's. Although Bobby Hull was the most feared individual on those Hawks teams, it was often the "Scooters" that decided the outcome of the games and were the nightmare of the oppositions coaches.

During the 1960-61 season Ken scored 3 goals and 5 assists during the playoffs and helped Chicago win a Stanley Cup. From there on Kenny enjoyed a lot of success on the "Scooter Line". He had four 20+ goal seasons and three 30+ goal seasons. His 39 goals and 71 points in 1963-64 earned him a 1st team All-Star spot, a feat that he duplicated during the 1966-67 season. He also won the Lady Byng trophy in 1963-64 as the league's most sportsmanlike player.

Ken had racked up three straight 60+ point seasons and looked better than ever during the 1969 training camp when he suffered myocarditis, a virus that attacks the muscles of the heart with symptoms similar to a coronary, and was forced to retire. It was a tragic end to a career that was hard fought and that had a lot more to give.

"Whip" as he was known to his teammates could look back at a very solid NHL career. Where he scored 533 points including 252 goals in 766 NHL games.

13 comments:

Bruce 3:05 AM  

many wonderful games
great hockey player

Anonymous,  7:22 PM  

Kenny was an underrated player for the Black Hawks. He was a great player! He was from North Bay,Ontario a great hockey town!

Anonymous,  6:57 AM  

I have great memories of the "Scooter Line". Kenny Wharram was my favorite. Just a terrific player. Thanks for the memories, Ken. Kevin T.

Anonymous,  3:57 AM  

my memory goes back to the 1961 playoffs with Mtl.I remember Kenny racing for a loose puck going into the Mtl zone and Jacques Plante coming out of his net to clear the puck.Well Kenny got there first and made a brilliant deke on Jacques and made the goal look great.I can not forget the look on Jacques face.The scooter line was terrific.

Aaron Wharram,  10:58 AM  

That's my great grandpa right there

Anonymous,  2:40 PM  

My dad and I watched Hawks games Weds and Sat nights on WGN in teh 60=s . Loved every second and Kenny Wharram remains my favorite player today.

Gazzoo

Anonymous,  8:02 PM  

That is my Uncle, my first jersey was a Hawks #17. I played successfully for 12 years with him as my mentor, always!

Sandy Wharram,  12:43 PM  

My dad is the greatest hockey player that I knew and one of the most dedicated and humble men. He never received the recognition that he deserved except from his family and teammates.

barclay donaldson 4:19 AM  

...part of my youth gone..passed away yesterday...RIP ken

Anonymous,  5:37 AM  

I will dearly miss my uncle Ken. He not only was a hockey hero in my eyes but also a great inspiration in my life as a warm caring individual. " Curly " will be sadly missed in our hearts.

dontstopthemusic nomoreadds 5:53 AM  

I am truly saddened by the news of Kenny's passing. A true hockey hero of the original six. May he now receive the recognition he so greatly deserved. R.I.P. # 17

Bill Amos 11:03 PM  

Ken Wharram was one of my favourite Hawks and it seemed he always excelled in games against the Canadiens. Danny Gallivan, the legendary Habs' broadcaster, always made a point of saying that when they were playing Chicago, especially at the old Forum in Montreal.

I can recall him saying, a few times, "Here comes Wharram, dipsy-doodling around the Habs' defence.... He shoots, he scores! Oh, and he made Plante (or Worsley, or Hodge, or Vachon) look bad on that one."

I have always wondered if he would have made a difference for the Hawks in the 1971 final against the Canadiens, which Chicago heart-breakingly lost in a classic game 7 at Chicago Stadium.

My sympathies to his family for their loss... and to Blackhawks fans everywhere who loved him.

Sandy Cantin 6:20 PM  

Thank you to all who share the loss of my Dad, Ken...he was a humble and terrific gentlemen both on and off the ice.

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