Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Don Hay - Philadelphia Firebirds

don hay philadelphia firebirds nahl
Long, long before he was the legendary coach of Canadian junior hockey, Don Hay put in a decent year of pro hockey with the Philadelphia Firebirds in the NAHL. It was 1976-77, Hay’s last year as a player and the league’s last year of existence.

Don Hay – NAHL

Hay played just one year in the North American Hockey League, 1976-77 with the Philadelphia Firebirds. The Firebirds moved on to the American Hockey League for the 1977-78 season but Don hung up the blades and headed back to British Columbia.

The right winger played the full 74 game schedule for Philadelphia, scoring 20 goals and assisting on 15 for 35 points, while also sitting 96 minutes in the sin bin. He played in all of the Firebirds four playoff games, contributing two assists. After finishing fourth in the eight team league, Philadelphia met up with the Erie Blades in the opening round of the Lockhart Cup playoffs, falling three games to one.

Don Hay – Pro Hockey

After playing two years of junior hockey in the WCHL, 1972-73 with the Calgary Centennials and 1973-74 with the New Westminster Bruins, Hay was drafted into both major hockey leagues. However, he was drafted very deep.

At the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, Don was taken by the Minnesota North Stars in the 12th round, 193rd overall. It got worse at the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft. Hay was taken by the Houston Aeros way down in the 16th round, 230rd overall.

Don played pro hockey from 1974-75 to 1976-77. In his first two years, he bounced around the IHL. In his final year, of course, he spent the full season with the Firebirds.

Don Hay – The Coach

Hay has been coaching hockey since 1986-87, mostly in the WHL. He had a few shots at the National Hockey League, acting as assistant coach of the Calgary Flames in 1995-96, head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996-97 and assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks in 1997-98. He got a chance at the head coaching job with the Flames in 2000-01 but was quickly replaced midseason. Besides a stint as head coach of the Utah Grizzlies in the AHL from 2001-02 to 2003-04, it’s been the WHL all the way.

Five times, Hay has been behind the bench of an Ed Chynoweth Cup champion in the WHL. He was an assistant coach in 1989-90 and 1991-92 for the Kamloops Blazers as they captured the championship. The 1991-92 team went on to win the Memorial Cup tournament. Don was head coach of the Blazers in 1993-94 and 1994-95 as Kamloops won both the Ed Chynoweth Cup and Memorial Cup in both seasons. In 2005-06, he was head coach of the Vancouver Giants team that won the WHL championship.

Don has also twice been the bench boss of Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. In 1995, Canada won gold in Red Deer, Alberta with what many consider to be the best WJC team ever. Canada went undefeated in the round robin only tournament. Hay returned to coach the 2012 Canada team in the WJC tournament jointly held in Calgary and Edmonton. Canada took the bronze medal.

Hay has coached the Vancouver Giants since 2004-05. Besides the Blazers and Giants, Don also had a two year stint with the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Gord Brooks of the Philadelphia Firebirds

gord brooks philadelphia firebirds nahl
Gord Brooks played two years in the North American Hockey League, 1975-76 and 1976-77, both with the Philadelphia Firebirds. As a junior, he was part of a historic London Knights event. He played parts of three years in the National Hockey League and was an award winner in the AHL.

Gord Brooks – NAHL

In 1975-76, Brooks scored 39 goals and assisted on 54 for 93 points over 66 regular season games with the Firebirds. His 93 points placed him just third on the high scoring Philadelphia squad. However, in the Lockhart Cup playoffs, Gord led the way with 15 goals and 32 points over 16 games as the Firebirds won the championship with a final series victory over the Beauce Jaros.

The following year, Brooks stepped up his offensive performance but the Firebirds were a bit of a dud as a team. With 65 goals and 59 assists for 124 points over 74 regular season games, Gord led the team in goals and points. In the NAHL, he was second in goals and fourth in points. However, Philadelphia lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the Erie Blades. Following that, the NAHL ceased to exist and the Firebirds joined the American Hockey League. Brooks went along for the ride.

Gord Brooks – Junior

Gord played two years in the Ontario Hockey Association (what is now the OHL) in 1968-69 and 1969-70. His first year was spent with the Hamilton Red Wings (the current day Erie Otters).

During the 1969-70 season, Brooks was traded from Hamilton to the London Knights. He played 12 games for London in the playoffs with the Knights winning their first ever playoff series with an opening round victory over the Peterborough Petes. London then fell to the Toronto Marlboros in the following round.

Gord Brooks – Pro Hockey

The St. Louis Blues selected Brooks in the fourth round of the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft, 51st overall. He played a total of 70 regular season games in the National Hockey League, two with the Blues in 1971-72, 30 more with St. Louis in 1973-74 and 15 with the Washington Capitals in their inaugural season, 1974-75.

He played pro from 1970-71 to 1983-84, appearing in the CHL, NHL, WHL, AHL, NAHL, IHL and Austria. 1977-78 was a definite career highlight on a personal achievement level. With the Philadelphia Firebirds, in their first year in the AHL, Gord put up 42 goals and 56 assists for 98 points over 81 games. His point total tied him with Rick Adduono of the Rochester Americans for the league high and earned him a share of the John B. Sollenberger Trophy. Adduono saw time in the NAHL, as well, with two games as a member of the Binghamton Dusters in 1975-76.

He started the 1980-81 season in Austria but returned to finish off the year in the IHL with the Saginaw Gears. In his 39 regular season games for Saginaw, Brooks contributed a decent 42 points. In the Turner Cup playoffs, he totalled 17 points over 13 games. The Gears swept the Kalamazoo Wings in the final series to capture the championship.

In 1981-82, Brooks played a full year with Saginaw and turned up the offensive volume. Over 82 regular season games, he scored 49 goals and assisted on 64 for 113 points. His point total placed him third in the league. The Gears once again reached the Turner Cup finals but were ousted by the Toledo Goaldiggers in five games. It was, for the most part, the swan song of Gord’s career.