Mike Veisor

In the early 1970s Chicago Blackhawks fans must have been very ecstatic about their goaltending. Tony Esposito had quickly established himself as one of the best in the business. And soon after Michael Dumas and Mike Veisor engaged in a battle for the back up role.

Veisor eventually won that spot. The had quite a track record. He played much of his junior career in Hamilton, under coach Harry Neale, before being traded to Roger Neislon's Peterborough Petes. The Petes, led by Bob Gainey, went all the way to the Memorial Cup final in 1972 before losing to the Cornwall Royals (with Richard Brodeur in net) in a thrilling 2-1 OT game.

Veisor, once described as "One of the most agile goaltenders around, plays goal like a trapeze artist," would be drafted by the Blackhawks in the third round, 45th overall, in the 1972 Draft. He had an opportunity to jump straight into the WHA, but opted to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

"That was the year the WHA started and Ottawa had my rights," he recalled. "The money there was better, but I always wanted to play in the NHL."

And he would play in the NHL, but spent a lot of time in the minor leagues first. He spent parts of four seasons with the Chicago's Dallas farm team, where Neilson also was the coach, and led the Central League in goaltending twice, with 2.75 and 2.93 averages. He was rookie of the year his first season and a first all-star twice.

After call-up appearances during those years, Veisor finally stuck in the NHL for good starting in 1977. Serving as Esposito's back-up, he did not get to play very much.

"He was the best goalie in hockey, so I didn't get to play much," Veisor said. "But I learned a lot from him. I accepted my job as a role player, getting in every two or three weeks. I always felt fortunate that I was a pro athlete, I was ready when they needed me, and I would have gone to the moon if they had asked me to play there."

Much fan fare was made of his religion when he first broke into the league. He was dubbed as the first Jewish goalie in NHL history. That proved to be false, as he was actually the third behind Ross Brooks and Bernie Woolf.

Nicknamed "Werm" because of his playing style, he ended up suffering from phlebitis which some thought would end his career. Interesting, his phlebitis led to an interesting equipment innovation. Doctors figured his blood clots in his legs and lungs developed in the calf area. A fiberglass protector around the calf was designed and solved the problem.

With the arrival of Murray Bannerman in Chicago, Veisor was was traded to the Whalers in 1980. He later briefly played for the Winnipeg Jets.

In 10 NHL seasons, he averaged only 14 games a year. His career record - 4.09 goals-against average, five shutouts, 41-62-26 won-lost-tied record in 139 games.

He remained in the Hartford area after retiring. He worked for a Toyota dealership and also served as rink manager and goaltender coach at Avon Old Farms prep school.

He also continued to play in Whalers' oldtimers games for charity, the same team that Gordie and Marty Howe would play for on occasion.

"Finally, after all these years, I'm a starting goalie again," he cracked.


Unknown 12:47 PM  

"He was dubbed as the first Jewish goalie in NHL history. That proved to be false, as he was actually the third behind Ross Brooks and Bernie Woolf."

Ross Brooks isn't Jewish. And Bernie Wolfe was preceded, by several decades, by goalies Joe Ironstone (New York Americans) and Moe Roberts (Boston Bruins), both of whom played in the NHL in 1925-26.

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