1976 Entry Draft
The 1976 PHL draft began with a surprise. The Seattle Grey Wolves, who held the first pick, passed on top-rated forward Glen Childs to select speedy offensive defenseman Jeff Reese. Childs ended up going to the expansion Edmonton Northern Lights, while Edmonton’s expansion cousins, the Long Island Concordes, selected Craig Davidson, an American forward slated to play for team USA in the World Hockey Challenge. Vancouver took defenseman Art Rogers fourth overall to solidify their defense, while Dallas also beefed up their D, taking Ray Decker to round out the top five.
1. Seattle – Jeff Reese, D
2. Edmonton – Glen Childs, F
3. Long Island – Craig Davidson, F
4. Vancouver – Art Rogers, D
5. Dallas – Ray Decker, D
6. Washington – Don Lapin, G
7. Pittsburgh – Dave Ritter, D
8. Detroit – Ron Marriott, F
9. Toronto – Ted Lovell, F
10. Winnipeg – Brian Leblance, F
11. Nova Scotia – Randy Flint, D
12. Quebec – Jacques Boivin, F
13. Boston – Mike Sweetwater, F
14. Calgary – Jeff Chapman, F
15. California – Rod Skelton, F
16. St. Louis – Paul Needham, D
17. Montreal – Mark Dawkins, F
18. Denver – Dirk Bowens, D
19. Philadelphia – Jason Farrell, D
20. Chicago – Richie Smith, F
21. New York – Jimmy MacDonald, F
22. Ottawa – Doug Sampson, F
23. LA Wizards – Eric Mosher, F
24. Minnesota – Denis Poirier, F
Guy Benoit, F, Quebec, 1961-1976
Guy Benoit joined the Quebec Nationale just in time for the third of their three straight Lewis Cups in the early 1960s. Benoit was a valuable playmaker to scoring stars Gilbert Giroux and Ben Williams throughout the 1960s. He won a second Lewis Cup with Quebec in 1965 and reached the final with them again in 1970.
Bruce Wallace, G, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, 1959-1976
Having to fill goaltending legend James Green’s skates was a tall order for Bruce Wallace when he joined the Chicago Shamrocks in 1959. But Wallace did an admirable job, leading the Shamrocks to the Lewis Cup Finals in 1965. The following year, Wallace left Chicago to join the GHL’s St. Louis Spirits. When the Spirits joined the PHL in 1969, Wallace was booed heartily by the Chicago crowd, who saw him as a traitor. In 1974, Wallace was selected in the expansion draft by the Seattle Grey Wolves, where he played the final two years of his career.
LA trades F Jack Carson and 1st round pick in 1977 entry draft to Edmonton in exchange for F Theo Howell.
Howell adds valuable depth to LA’s already stacked lineup, while Edmonton acquires an extra pick for next year’s draft in an effort to speed up the building process.
After bringing the PHL from 14 teams to 24 in just ten seasons as league president, Alan Garcia immediately dispelled rumours of further expansion. Garcia announced there would be no further expansion for at least a decade. “We need to give our newer franchises an opportunity to get stronger” said Garcia. “We’ve brought the league a long way in these last ten years and it’s time to let the game grow into the markets we have.”
In other news a few coaching changes were made during the 1976 off-season. In a somewhat surprising move Minnesota fired head coach Fred Meloche, replacing him with former Boston coach Bob Truman, who had led the Bulldogs to the Lewis Cup in 1971. “It was a tough decision” said GM Kurt Blanchard. “Fred’s regular season record is incredible, but we simply haven’t been able to get over the hump in the post-season and it’s time for a change.” The expansion Long Island Concordes also made headlines in the head coaching category, hiring former playing legend George Allen as their head coach. To some, the move appeared to be yet another jab at the Concorde’s cross-town rivals and Allen’s former team, the New York Civics, who had already surrendered two players to Long Island in the expansion draft. Finally, the Philadelphia Redshirts announced they would be bringing back the greatest goaltender in franchise history, this time behind the bench, as David Zimmer was hired as head coach of the Redshirts.