Sunday, January 29, 2017

1986 Off-Season

1986 Entry Draft
The 1986 PHL draft was projected to be the richest draft in league history. Leading the talented class was Quebec-born phenom Vincent Ducharme, one of the greatest junior players of all time. There was no shortage of controversy entering the draft. Three teams - most notably the Montreal Royale - were accused of tanking their seasons in an effort to land the number one pick and select Ducharme. Due to lack of evidence, none of the clubs were demoted or stripped of picks but Alan Garcia did make the decision to hold a lottery for the four lowest teams in the standings. The Royale and their fans, who were already buying Ducharme jerseys in droves, were absolutely irate, that is until Montreal won the lottery. The Royale would pick number one after all and predictably selected the 18-year-old phenom, who was ecstatic to play for his childhood team. Minnesota also took a native son, selecting talented Jason Crowley second. New York took two-time 50 goal scorer Aaron Duplacy third, while Calgary selected hard-hitting D-man Jonathan Adams fourth. LA actually passed on supremely talented defenseman Kevin Hoyle to take Viktor Skogg, a Swedish winger who had already played pro in his home country. Hoyle went sixth to California.

1.      Montreal – Vincent Ducharme, F, CAN
2.      Minnesota – Jason Crowley, F, USA
3.      New York – Aaron Duplacy, F, CAN
4.      Calgary – Jonathan Adams, D, CAN
5.      LA – Viktor Skogg, F, SWE
6.      California – Kevin Hoyle, D, USA
7.      Ottawa – Shawn Norton, D, CAN
8.      Quebec – Troy Dowdy, F, CAN
9.      Denver – Teppo Sikkanen, D, FIN
10.   Washington – Grant Sibley, F, CAN
11.   Detroit – Kim Brodie, F, CAN
12.   Toronto – Marc Brunelle, F, CAN
13.   Winnipeg – Scott Chambers, D, UK
14.   Long Island – Ulf Linden, F, SWE
15.   Vancouver – Jeff Jones, F, USA
16.   Boston – Jason Luna, F, CAN
17.   Edmonton – Kevin Wyatt, D, CAN
18.   LA (From Pittsburgh) – Jeff Whittle, D, USA
19.   Chicago – Scott Benson, D, CAN
20.   Milwaukee – Craig McKay, D, CAN
21.   Minnesota (From Nova Scotia) – Mats Ulberg, D, SWE
22.   Seattle – Kyle Gray, F, USA
23.   St. Louis – Luke Broderick, F, CAN
24.   Philadelphia – Brendan Carnes, F, CAN

Notable Retirements:

Bobby Sorel, G, CHI, MIN, LI, 1967-1986
With two Lewis Cup victories, four Whyte Trophies, and a heroic performance in two World Hockey Challenges, Bobby Sorel established himself as one of the greatest goaltenders in PHL history. Sorel broke in with Chicago in 1967 but was traded to Minnesota after only two seasons. After just three seasons with the Lumberjacks, Sorel finally backstopped the club to its first Lewis Cup. Sorel and the ‘Jacks won a second cup in 1979 with Sorel taking his fourth Whyte Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. In 1980, Sorel backstopped team Canada to a World Hockey Challenge victory, where his big save in the final seconds of the championship game went on to become one of the biggest moments in Canadian sports history. Sorel played for Minnesota until 1984 when he was traded to the Long Island Concords, where he would play his final two years.

Dave Hawthorne, F, CHI, 1967-1986
The last player on the Shamrocks recruited by the late Fred Garfield Sr., Dave Hawthorne bled Green and White for nearly twenty years. Hawthorne proved to be a reliable scorer playing most of his career alongside Don Newman. Hawthorne helped lead Chicago to a dramatic Lewis Cup victory in 1983, the only won he would win as a player.

Ricky Spooner, G, BOS, STL, 1969-1986
Bobby Sorel wasn’t the only goaltending legend to call it quits in 1986. Ricky Spooner’s stellar career began with Boston in 1969-70. In only his second season, Spooner backstopped the Bulldogs to the Lewis Cup, then went on to take them to the finals again in 1976 where they lost to the LA Wizards. In 1980, Spooner was already 30 years old when he was traded to the St. Louis Spirits. But he was only getting started. Spooner backstopped the powerhouse Spirits to three Lewis Cups during the 1980s, finally deciding to retire on top after the 1986 victory.

Martin Gilbert, D, MTL, 1966-1986
Gilbert played a big role in Montreal’s Lewis Cup victory in 1968, his second year in the league. He served as a steady, reliable presence on the Royale blueline for two decades.

Casey Beckett, F, OTT, PIT, 1966-1986
The PHL’s first true enforcer, Casey Beckett proved to be much more than a feared fighter. Beckett went on to lead the Beavers in all-time goals and eventually became the team’s captain, leading them to the final in 1977. Beckett played his final year with Pittsburgh, where he played in his second final before retiring.

Notable Trades

Pittsburgh trades 1st round pick to LA in exchange for D Shannon Lane.
Pittsburgh adds to their defensive depth, LA uses the pick to take defenseman Jeff Whittle.

Minnesota trades D Trevor Duffas to Nova Scotia in exchange for 1st round pick
Minnesota selects Swede Mats Ulberg, Nova Scotia continues to bulk up for another run.

St. Louis trades F Jari Pukki to California in exchange for G Jaroslav Danek
The blockbuster trade of the summer, St. Louis addresses their need for a goaltender, acquiring top goaltending prospect Danek from California. The Nuggets get a true superstar in Pukki.

Key Free Agents
Tony Knight (OTT) signs four-year deal with Milwaukee worth $800,000
Ron Marriott (DET) signs five-year deal with Montreal worth $750,000
Roland Webb (MIN) signs three-year deal with Edmonton worth $700,000

The biggest news of the 1986 off-season came when Alan Garcia announced that the league would begin accepting bids for expansion franchises beginning in the summer of 1987. Two teams would debut in the 1989-90 season. Kansas City is rumoured to be a lock for a new team, while other cities rumoured to be interested include Cleveland, Atlanta, Houston, Hamilton, Portland, Miami, and Oakland. “Next summer we’re going to focus on choosing the best cities for new franchises.” Said Garcia. “Once selected, our teams should have plenty of time to then prepare for October ’89.”

In other news Helsinki, Finland was selected as the host city for the 1988 World Hockey Challenge. Helsinki, with a new arena seating 16,000, beat out London, Stockholm, Moscow, and Montreal for hosting rights.

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