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.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bob Collyard

bob collyard philadelphia firebirds nahl
Bob Collyard played professional hockey from 1970-71 to 1982-83. Collyard spent three years with the Philadelphia Firebirds of the NAHL from 1974-75 to 1976-77. During his stay in the North American Hockey League, Bob put up great numbers in each season.


Collyard spent three years playing for Colorado College in the WCHA from 1968-69 to 1970-71. In his first year, he led the league with 31 goals and 48 points over just 25 games. In his first two years, Bob was selected to the NCAA 1st All-American Team.

Pro Hockey

After just his first year at Colorado College, Collyard was picked by the St. Louis Blues in the seventh round of the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft, 73rd overall. Bob went on to play pro hockey from 1970-71 to 1982-83 in the CHL, NHL, WHL, NAHL, AHL, Germany and IHL.
His National Hockey League experience consists of ten games with the Blues during the 1973-74 season. He was picked up by the Washington Capitals in the 1974 NHL Expansion Draft but never played for the Capitals.

Bob showed off his soft hands in 1972-73, leading the Central Hockey League with 50 assists as a member of the Fort Worth Wings. In his first year in the American Hockey League, 1977-78, with the Philadelphia Firebirds, Collyard finished second in the league with 62 assists, just one behind Joe Hardy of the Binghamton Dusters. That year, he finished fourth in points with 90, eight behind league leader and teammate Gord Brooks.


Over his three years in the NAHL, Collyard scored 118 goals and assisted on 230 for 348 points over 216 regular season games. His playoff numbers were even more impressive with 18 goals and 30 assists for 48 points in 24 games. Most of those playoff numbers came in 1975-76 when the Firebirds won the Lockhart Cup. Bob scored 12 goals and assisted on 25 for 37 points.

In 1974-75, Collyard scored 42 and assisted on 61 for 103 points. He placed fourth in the league for goals, second for assists and tied for third in points. Bob led the Firebirds in all three categories and was named to the NAHL Second All-Star Team.

The following year, 1975-76, Bob’s numbers increased but so did everyone else’s in the NAHL. His 45 goals placed him eighth, his 84 assists were good for second and his 129 points put him in fifth among NAHL scoring leaders. He led Philadelphia in assists and points. As mentioned, he led the way in the playoffs as the Firebirds captured the Lockhart Cup championship. Once again, Collyard was named a Second Team All-Star.

In his final season, 1976-77, Bob’s goal total dropped to 31 but his assists increased to 85 for a total of 116 points. Collyard led the team in assists and finished second in the NAHL. His point total placed him seventh overall. Once again, Bob was a Second Team All-Star.

Collyard carried on as a member of the Philadelphia Firebirds for two more years in the American Hockey League after the demise of the NAHL.

USA National Team

Twice, Bob was a member of the United States contingent at the IIHF World Hockey Championships. In 1978, he scored a goal and assisted on five for six points over ten games. The tournament was held in Prague, Czechoslovakia and the U.S.A. finished sixth out of eight countries. That year, the Soviet Union won gold, Czechoslovakia won silver and Canada took bronze.

In 1979, Collyard played in eight games and scored two goals. The U.S. fell to seventh out of eight teams. The tournament was hosted in Moscow. Once again, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia took the first two positions with Sweden winning the bronze.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

NAHL 1975-76 Scoring Leaders

beauce jaros nahl north american hockey league
Hockey history was made in 1975-76 and probably went unnoticed by pretty much everyone. In the lowly North American Hockey League, the WHA farm league that the movie ‘Slap Shot’ was inspired by, the first professional hockey player scored more than 200 points in a single season.

Joe Hardy – Beauce Jaros

Jocelyn ‘Joe’ Hardy was the head coach of the Beauce Jaros but also the league’s offensive fireplug.  Hardy totalled 208 points on 60 goals and 148 assists in just 72 games to beat Wayne Gretzky to the punch by six years. Joe’s next highest total over his professional career was just 93 points in 1976-77. Hardy played 63 games in the NHL with the California Golden Seals and 210 games in the World Hockey Association.

Richard Grenier – Beauce Jaros

Richard Grenier, also of the Beauce Jaros, finished second with 160 points on 77 goals and 83 assists. It was a career year for Grenier who was a fifth round pick of the New York Islanders at the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft. Richard appeared in ten NHL games, all with the Islanders in 1972-73. He also dressed for 34 WHA games with the Quebec Nordiques in 1976-77. He finished his pro hockey career following the 1989-90 season after several years in Europe.

Luc Simard – Cape Codders, Beauce Jaros

Luc Simard was twice a 60+ goal scorer (67 and 73) in the NAHL, a 68 goal scorer in the EHL and a 90 goal scorer in the QMJHL. He led the QMJHL in the junior league’s inaugural season with 174 points on 90 goals and 84 assists in just 56 games. Guy Lafleur did not have more points than Simard that year but did score an amazing 130 goals. Luc finished third in 1975-76 with 149 points in a season split between the Cape Codders and the Beauce Jaros. It was Luc’s final year of professional hockey.

Alain Caron – Beauce Jaros

Alain Caron, in the last of his seventeen years in pro hockey, finished fourth with 137 points. Caron was yet another member of the Beauce Jaros. Caron scored 78 goals and assisted on 59. It was his third time scoring more than 70 goals in a season. In 1961-62 with the Amherst Ramblers of the NSSHL, he scored 76 in just 47 games. In 1963-64 with the St. Louis Braves of the CPHL, Caron scored 77 goals in 71 games. Alain appeared in 60 NHL games with the Oakland Seals and Montreal Canadiens, along with 195 games in the WHA with the Quebec Nordiques and Michigan Stags.

Bob Collyard – Philadelphia Firebirds

Bob Collyard of the Philadelphia Firebirds finished fifth with 129 points, 79 behind Joe Hardy, on 45 goals and 84 assists. Collyard was in his second of three years with the NAHL Firebirds and played two more with the franchise after they joined the AHL. Bob was a seventh round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 1969 and played ten games with the NHL club in 1973-74, his only NHL action.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Dale MacLeish

dale macleish philadelphia firebirds nahl
Like many who played in the North American Hockey League, Dale MacLeish’s stay was relatively short. MacLeish, the older brother of NHL star Rick MacLeish, played for the Philadelphia Firebirds in 1974-75 and nine games into the 1975-76 season.


In 1974-75, Dale played 48 games for the Firebirds, scoring 19 goals and adding 18 assists for 37 points. He played in all of Philadelphia’s Lockhart Cup playoff games that year, but contributed no points. The Firebirds bowed out in the opening round to the Long Island Cougars, three games to one. At the same time, in Philadelphia, Rick MacLeish was playing an integral part in the Flyers second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

Nine games into the 1975-76 season, MacLeish moved on to the Roanoke Valley Rebels of the Southern Hockey League. He had previously spent time with the Rebels in the Eastern Hockey League. The Firebirds went on to win the Lockhart Cup that season, beating the Beauce Jaros in the finals, four to two.

Junior Hockey

MacLeish played two years of major junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey Association. In 1965-66 and 1966-67, Dale was a member of the Peterborough Petes. Brother Rick would join the club the following season and play three years with Peterborough.

In his second year with the Petes, the legendary Roger Neilson took over as head coach. Peterborough was led by Mickey Redmond, who would go on to injury shortened NHL stardom with the Detroit Red Wings. Mickey’s brother Dick was also on the team. Dick also went on to play in the National Hockey League.

Pro Hockey

Dale was a fourth round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 1966 NHL Amateur Draft, 22nd overall. At that time, the draft still didn’t mean anything. MacLeish played pro hockey from 1968-69 to 1975-76 in the Central Hockey League, EHL, SHL and NAHL.

It was in the EHL that MacLeish enjoyed his most success. Between the Jacksonville Rockets and the Roanoke Valley Rebels, he appeared in 270 regular season games, scoring 138 and assisting on 139 for 277 points.

Dale MacLeish played in the last ever Eastern Hockey League final series in 1972-73. Roanoke Valley lost to the Syracuse Blazers in six games. The Blazers outscored the Rebels 51 to 18. The following year, the teams from the EHL split up to create the NAHL in the north and the SHL in the south.