Early Europeans in North America

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  1. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    I thought it would be neat thing to take a look at the early European players who got attention from North Americans.

    Players that were put on negotiaion lists of NHL clubs, were invited to training camps or just generally were commented on that they could play in the NHL.

    When time permits I will look at each and everyone of them, how they did at the training camps, or just comment on their chances to make it over in North America.

    Of course, the criteria is that they spent their formative years playing in Europe, thus players like Stan Mikita, Ivan Boldirev, Walt Tkaczuk, Stan Smrke, etc do not qualify.

    Here’s a list of the ones that I am aware of at the moment, please add players if you see that I am missing anyone. I know that for example Bohumil Modrý, the Czechoslovakian goalie had offers from the NHL in 1947 or 1948, but I have not found any contemporary sources. Aside from that, I do have some other names in my files that I haven't been able to verify.

    I believe that this might be the most comprehensive list that's been presented so far.
    But having said that, it's not complete, and I'm sure I have forgot about some players.

    YearNameCountryComment
    1922Alfred de RauchFranceNHL'er Gerry Geran thought he could play in the USA
    1922Louis BrasseurFranceNHL'er Gerry Geran thought he could play in the USA
    1922Robert LacroixFranceNHL'er Gerry Geran thought he could play in the USA
    1931Josef MalečekCzechoslovakiaInvited to attend New York Rangers training camp
    1949Jaroslav DrobnýCzechoslovakiaBoston Bruins negotiation list
    1949Vladimir ZábrodskýCzechoslovakiaInterest from Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks (PCHL)
    1950Aarne HonkavaaraFinlandPlayed for Sarnia Sailors
    1956Nikolai PuchkovSoviet UnionCleveland Barons (AHL) negotiation list
    He was also offered a $ 10.000 contract
    1956Nikolai SologubovSoviet UnionNHL-calibre player according to North American observers
    1956Yuri KrylovSoviet UnionNHL-calibre player according to North American observers
    1956Aleksei GuryshevSoviet UnionNHL-calibre player according to North American observers
    1956Yuri PantyukhovSoviet UnionNHL-calibre player according to North American observers
    1957Sven JohanssonSwedenBoston Bruins training camp
    1958Lars BjörnSwedenBoston Bruins training camp
    1958Veniamin AleksandrovSoviet UnionChicago Blackhawks negotiation list
    1958Ivan TregubovSoviet UnionNHL-calibre player according to North American observers
    1958Yuri KopylovSoviet UnionNHL-calibre player according to North American observers
    1962Lennart HäggrothSwedenInvited to attend Boston Bruins training camp
    1962Ulf SternerSwedenInvited to attend Boston Bruins training camp
    New York Rangers negotiation list 1963
    New York Rangers training camp 1963 & 1964
    Drafted by New York Raiders (WHA) 1972
    Chicago Cougars (WHA) training camp 1972
    1962Roland StoltzSwedenInvited to attend Boston Bruins training camp
    1962Nils NilssonSwedenInvited to attend Boston Bruins training camp
    1963Carl-Göran ÖbergSwedenToronto Maple Leafs training camp
    1963Kjell SvenssonSwedenToronto Maple Leafs training camp
    1963Jiři (George) KrenCzechoslovakiaToronto Maple Leafs training camp
    1963Jean PaupardinFranceMontreal Canadiens training camp
    1964Juha WidingSwedenInvited by New Rangers
    Attended Brandon Wheat Kings training camp
    Drafted by Ontario (Ottawa) Nationals (WHA) 1972
    1964Folke BengtssonSwedenNew York Rangers training camp
    Detroit Red Wings negotiation list 1966
    1964Jan-Erik SjöbergSwedenNew York Rangers training camp
    1964Sören BlomgrenSwedenNew York Rangers training camp
    1964Øystein MellerudNorwayNew York Rangers training camp
    1965Václav NedomanskýCzechoslovakiaNew York Rangers negotiation list
    Drafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA) 1972
    1965Vladimir DzurillaCzechoslovakiaInvited to attend Toronto Maple Leafs training camp
    Los Angeles Kings negotiation list 1967
    Montreal Canadiens negotiation list 1976
    1965Luděk BukačCzechoslovakiaBoston Bruins training camp
    Skated with Chicago Blackhawks
    1965Tord LundströmSwedenDetroit Red Wings negotiation list
    1965Håkan NygrenSwedenDetroit Red Wings negotiation list
    Minnesota North Stars negotiation list 1966
    1965Stig-Göran JohanssonSwedenInvited to attend New York Rangers training camp
    1966Kjell SundströmSwedenDetroit Red Wings negotiation list
    1967Jaroslav HolikCzechoslovakiaLos Angeles Kings negotiation list
    1967Jozef GolonkaCzechoslovakiaLos Angeles Kings negotiation list
    St. Louis Blues negotiation list 1968
    Drafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA) 1972
    1967Lennart SvedbergSwedenInvited to attend St. Louis Blues training camp
    Detroit Red Wings negotiation list 1969
    Detroit Red Wings training camp 1969
    1967Pentti LindegrenFinlandInvited to attend St. Louis Blues training camp
    1968Lauri MononenFinlandInvited to attend Los Angeles Kings training camp
    1968Jorma AhoFinlandNew York Rangers training camp
    1968Sakari AhlbergFinlandNew York Rangers training camp
    1968Leif HolmqvistSwedenScrimmaged with Boston Bruins (March 1968)
    Invited to attend Boston Bruins training camp
    Drafted by Edmonton Oil Kings (WHA) 1972
    Detroit Red Wings training camp 1973
    1968Arne CarlssonSwedenMinnesota North Stars negotiation list
    Detroit Red Wings negotiation list 1969
    Chicago Cougars (WHA) training camp 1972
    1968Lars-Göran NilssonSwedenMinnesota North Stars negotiation list
    St. Louis Blues negotiation list (year unknown)
    1968Leif HenrikssonSwedenDetroit Red Wings training camp
    1968Josef HorešovskýCzechoslovakiaSt. Louis Blues negotiation list
    Drafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA) 1972
    1968Jan HavelCzechoslovakiaSt. Louis Blues negotiation list
    1968Jaroslav JiříkCzechoslovakiaSt. Louis Blues negotiation list
    St. Louis Blues training camp 1969
    Drafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA) 1972
    1968Jan MarekCzechoslovakiaAttended Toronto Maple Leafs training camp
    1968Viktor Tišlar (Tišler)YugoslaviaSt. Louis Blues training camp
    Drafted by New York Raiders (WHA) 1972
    1968Albin FelcYugoslaviaSt. Louis Blues training camp
    1968Anton GaleYugoslaviaBoston Bruins training camp
    Chicago Blackhawks training camp 1970
    Chicago Cougars (WHA) training camp 1972
    Drafted by New York Raiders (WHA) 1972
    1968Ivo JanYugoslaviaDetroit Red Wings training camp
    1968Viktor RavnikYugoslaviaDetroit Red Wings training camp
    1968Ciril KlinarYugoslaviaInvited to attend Detroit Red Wings training camp
    1968Ivo RatajYugoslaviaInvited to attend Detroit Red Wings training camp
    1969Anatoli FirsovSoviet UnionLos Angeles Kings negotiation list
    Drafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA) 1972
    1969Tommy SalmelainenFinlandDetroit Red Wings negotiation list
    St. Louis training camp
    Drafted by St. Louis Blues 1969
    1969Esa IsakssonFinlandInvited to attend St. Louis Blues training camp
    1969Veli-Pekka KetolaFinlandDetroit Red Wings training camp
    Drafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA) 1972
    1969Petr HejmaCzechoslovakiaDetroit Red Wings training camp
    Toronto Maple Leafs training camp 1970
    Drafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA) 1972
    1969Jiři BastlCzechoslovakiaChicago Blackhawks training camp
    Chicago Cougars (WHA) training camp 1973
    1969Karel StrakaCzechoslovakiaOttawa 67's (OHA) training camp
    1970Miroslav GojanovićYugoslaviaChicago Blackhawks training camp
    Los Angeles Sharks (WHA) training camp 1972
    Drafted by Los Angeles Sharks (WHA) 1972
    1970Rudi HitiYugoslaviaChicago Blackhawks training camp
    Los Angeles Sharks (WHA) training camp 1972
    Drafted by Los Angeles Sharks (WHA) 1972
    1970Lasse OksanenFinlandVancouver Canucks training camp
    1970Jorma PeltonenFinlandInvited to attend Vancouver Canucks training camp
    1970Kjell-Rune MiltonSwedenInvited to attend Vancouver Canucks training camp
    1971Ard SchenkNetherlandsChicago Blackhawks negotiation list
    (This was a publicity stunt as he was a speedskater)
    1972Juhani TamminenFinlandToronto Maple Leafs training camp
    1972Jorma ValtonenFinlandToronto Maple Leafs training camp
    1972Ilpo KoskelaFinlandInvited to attend Toronto Maple Leafs training camp
    1972Marek (Mark) TurekCzechoslovakiaToronto Maple Leafs training camp
    1972Thommie BergmanSwedenDetroit Red Wings training camp
    1972Christer AbrahamssonSwedenNegotiated with Buffalo Sabres
    1972Jaroslav (Jarda) KrupičkaCzechoslovakiaLos Angeles Sharks (WHA) training camp
    1972Zoltan HorvathHungaryLos Angeles Sharks (WHA) training camp
    1972Benny AnderssonSwedenChicago Cougars (WHA) training camp
    1972Valeri KharlamovSoviet UnionDrafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA)
    Chicago Blackhawks negotiation list
    1972Yuri BlinovSoviet UnionDrafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA)
    1972Jan EysseltCzechoslovakiaDrafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA)
    1972Gunnar LindqvistSwedenDrafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA)
    1972Alois SchloderWest GermanyDrafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA)
    Also drafted by Los Angeles Sharks (WHA)
    1972Vladislav TretiakSoviet UnionDrafted by New York Raiders (WHA)
    1972Seppo LindströmFinlandDrafted by Winnipeg Jets (WHA)
    1972František TikalCzechoslovakiaDrafted by Winnipeg Jets (WHA)
    1972Reinhold BauerWest GermanyDrafted by Miami Screaming Eagles (WHA)
    1972Aleksandr RagulinSoviet UnionDrafted by New York Raiders (WHA)
    1972Evgeny MishakovSoviet UnionDrafted by Miami Screaming Eagles (WHA)
    1972Aleksandr MaltsevSoviet UnionDrafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA)
    1972Vladimir PetrovSoviet UnionDrafted by Calgary Broncos (WHA)
    1972Jiří HolečekCzechoslovakiaDrafted by Ontario (Ottawa) Nationals (WHA)
    1972Jiří KochtaCzechoslovakiaDrafted by Ontario (Ottawa) Nationals (WHA)
    1972Vladimir BouzekCzechoslovakiaDrafted by Los Angeles Sharks (WHA)
    1972Jiří HolikCzechoslovakiaDrafted by Los Angeles Sharks (WHA)
    1972Ivan HlinkaCzechoslovakiaDrafted by Los Angeles Sharks (WHA)
    1972Leif SvenssonSwedenDrafted by Edmonton Oil Kings (WHA)
    1972Boris MikhailovSoviet UnionDrafted by Miami Screaming Eagles (WHA)
    1972Aleksei KosyginSoviet UnionDrafted by Winnipeg Jets (WHA)
    A mock pick as he was the Soviet prime minister
    He was one week shy of his 68th birthday - The oldest pick ever
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
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  2. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    1922/23

    Ok, I'll start with the first guys on the list.

    Gerry Geran [1896-1981] was an American player who played in the inaugural 1917/18 NHL-season for the Montreal Wanderers. Geran later played for the Boston Bruins in 1925/26. He played in 37 NHL-games. Geran also represented USA at the 1920 Olympics and was selected to play in 1924 as well, but had to withdraw due to business commitments.

    Worth pointing out is that Geran was way ahead of his time, as he wanted to create a players union long before it ever materialized.

    Geran was the first former NHL player to play for a European Club team. In 1922/23 he joined Club des Patineurs de Paris in the French Capital. While playing there he saw some promising players.

    ”There are some good players who could make good on any team in this country [USA].
    Three especially stood out. Alfred ”Didi” de Rauch, a Russian, who was captain of our team.
    Louis Brasseur and Bobby Lacroix, who is widely known in the United States because of his name which is found on cigaret papers.”

    ”There is every reason to believe that hockey will develop at a rapid pace in Europe. The players have the speed, have acquired the poke check to some extent, but need expert coaching. There is a great field over there for American and Canadian coaches.”


    Now, he did not say that they were good enough to play in the NHL, but at least good enough to play hockey in any American hockey league. It is interesting to note that all three players that Geran talked about were veterans. De Rauch was 35, Brasseur and Lacroix 33. They had a lot of experience and were all good skaters.



    Name: Alfred ”Didi” de Rauch (France)
    Age: 35
    Height: 177 cm / 5’9”
    Weight: 72 kg / 156 Ibs

    Alfred de Rauch [1887-1985] – He was born in Warsaw, Poland but grew up in St.Petersburg, Russia where his father worked as a military attaché at the French embassy.

    De Rauch was an excellent dribbler and stickhandler. His tactical sense, intelligence and leadership qualities stood out as his greatest strength. He captained both his club teams and the French national team for many years. De Rauch didn’t retire as a player until he was 45.

    How would he do?: He had the best chance of the three to earn a spot in one of the American leagues. NHL was out of the question. De Rauch is the one of the three that would handle the physical play best.
    He played Rugby at an international level, so he was sturdy and could take a hit. He might have been the best player of these three, but was too old to play in North America.


    Name: Louis Brasseur
    Age: 33
    Height: 175 cm / 5’8”
    Weight: 66 kg / 145 Ibs

    Louis Brasseur [1889-1967] – Versatile player who was born in Paris. Brasseur grew up playing hockey alongside his two year older brother André. Both guys represented France.

    His main strength was his skating. Brasseur was a very speedy skater who also competed internationally as a speedskater.

    How would he do?: Brasseur would be a fringe player in most American leagues.
    He lacked the necessary physicality to withstand the rigours of North American hockey.
    I see him as a spare at best on average teams. He was a good skater though.


    Name: Robert ”Bobby” Lacroix
    Age: 33
    Height: 175 cm / 5’8”
    Weight: 68 kg / 150 Ibs

    Robert Lacroix [1889-1966] - He was born in Mazères-sur-Salat in southwestern France.
    Just like Didi de Rauch he came from a very prominent and wealthy family.
    The old family industry (from 1660) was issued a license by Napoleon Bonaparte to produce rolling papers for his troops. The company later merged into Imperial Tobacco (annual $ 2,5 billion profit).

    Lacroix had been a hockey player since 1905 and just like Brasseur he was as an excellent skater with a fine shot (by European standards). Lacroix was also good at poking away pucks from opponents.
    He was a WW I veteran and was decorated with the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War).

    How would he do?: Just like Brasseur he would have a hard time to earn a roster spot on any of the better American leagues. He also had the skating going for him, but the grinding style of North American hockey was not his cup of coffee.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
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  3. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    1930/31

    Name: Josef ”Pepa” Maleček
    Age: 27
    Position: C
    Height: 178 cm / 5’10”
    Weight: 73 kg / 161 Ibs


    Josef Maleček, by many regarded as the greatest European pre war player. He was the first player to earn an invitation from an NHL-club. It was in 1931 that his former linemate in LTC Prague, Canadian Blake Watson made the recommendation. He contacted another former linemate (from his University days in Manitoba) and friend, Murray Murdoch.

    Murdoch was in his fifth season playing with the New York Rangers. Murdoch and Watson spoke to Lester Patrick, the Rangers general manager, who offered an unofficial training camp invitation to Maleček.

    Watson had seen Maleček in action first hand, as he played alongside the Czech star for 20 international games during a three month stint with LTC Prague. The dynamic duo wrecked havoc and in the 20 games together they scored a total of 133 points (83+50), almost 7 points per game.

    Maleček was unfortunately not brave or bold enough to accept the invitation. He had a comfortable life back home, running a successful sports goods store. He was the toast of the town and was the single person in Czechoslovakia who received the most fan mail, even more than the movie stars and singers in the country.

    Maleček was also the first sports star in the country to earn good money from commercial endorsements. He felt that he had no reason to give up that life, and deep down [My speculation], he probably didn’t feel that he was good enough for the NHL.


    Josef Maleček [1903-1982] – He was an extremely talented overall athlete who competed at the highest level in eight different sports. He was seen as a generational talent. Started playing hockey at the age of five and was the first documented hockey player to reach the 1000 goal plateau.

    Had astounding numbers, scoring more than 2000 documented goals in 850 career games.
    Maleček was a smooth skater and a master at dictating the tempo of a game. He also had an uncanny ability to slip through defenders. Maleček had a sneaky shot, often released quickly from the left flank. Opponents tried to neutralize him by designating someone to check him tightly at all times, often failing miserably. He could not be intimidated and absorbed hits very well, and he gave back as well.
    Had a very high hockey IQ.

    How would he do?: Maleček was the only European pre WW II player that would have an outside chance to earn a spot in the NHL. A big plus for him was that he spoke English, which would make the transition easier for someone coming from Europe. Under ideal circumstances (friendly coach and good linemates), and with some patience, he could have seen some game action, and maybe even score a few goals.
    In New York he would definitely be behind a center like Frank Boucher and probably Art Somers as well.
    If Murray Murdoch and Butch Keeling would be used on the wings (they also played as centers) then Maleček would give Hib Milks and Vic Desjardins a run for their money for the third center spot.
     
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  4. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    1949/50

    Walter Brown, the Bruins general manager toured Europe in 1947 with one of the American clubs that played there. While at the 1947 World Championships in Prague, he spoke to, and wrote the Czech Hockey Association, making an invitation for Jaroslav Drobný and centre Vladimir Zábrodský to play in the USA. His request was was denied though.

    Brown was not the type of guy who just gave up. He approached the Czech Hockey Association for a second time after the 1948 Olympics, but was once again turned down.

    Brown got another chance in 1949 [Third time a charm?], shortly after Jaroslav Drobný defected from Czechoslovakia. On July 15, 1949 he made sure that Drobný became the first European born and trained player to be put on a negotiation list by an NHL-team.

    It was all official, as Boston Bruins contacted the NHL headquarters in Montreal to put him on their list. The Bruins hoped that they would be able to negotiate some sort of a deal with Drobný.

    Drobný arrived to New York a few weeks later to participate in the international tennis tournament at Forest Hills, NY. Unfortunately a deal never materialized, as Drobný quit hockey.
    The reality was that he made more money as a professional tennis player than he would have done in hockey.

    There was another Czechoslovakian player who was a target of the Bruins during this time frame.
    His name was Vladimir Zábrodský, the brightest star in Europe at the time.
    Aside from the Bruins, Zábrodský also had an offer on the table from the Vancouver Canucks (PCHL).


    Name: Jaroslav ”Malej” Drobný
    Age: 27
    Position: RW
    Height: 180 cm / 5’10”
    Weight: 80 kg /176 Ibs


    Jaroslav Drobný [1921-2001] – Drobný was a two sport star (Wimbledon and French Open winner in tennis). He was a very good two-way player who took pride in his defensive responsibilities.
    Drobný had a very good stick technique and packed a good shot.

    He scored 51 points (35+16) in 23 major international tournament games. It was a shame that he quit hockey in 1949 to concentrate fully on tennis instead. Mike Buckna was a big fan of Drobný.

    Buckna was a Canadian that had played and coached in Czechoslovkia. He was often hailed as "the father of Czechoslovakian hockey", and had once attended the Chicago Blackhawks training camp, so he was a very good player in his own right.

    According to Buckna, Drobný unlike most European players, battled hard all the time while on the ice and could give and take body-checks, something few Europeans at the time could according to North American hockey observers. Drobný had a good shot and his backhand was described as ”sizzlers”.

    How would he do?: The Bruins plan, if they were able to sign him, was to send him to their farm club, Boston Olympics in the EAHL. They thought he would be a good drawing card and that the Olympics would serve as a good step in the evaluation process of him as a player.
    Drobný was just short of his 28th birthday and in his prime, but I am not sure how much his poor vision would hold him back. My prediction is that he would most likely earn a permanent spot with the Olympics, but would most likely have a hard time to crack the Bruins roster.


    Name: Vladimir ”Vovka” Zábrodský
    Age: 26
    Position: C
    Height: 185 cm / 6’1”
    Weight: 84 kg / 185 Ibs


    Vladimir Zábrodský [1923-] - Son of a Czech father and Russian mother. Zábrodský began skating at the age of five and played ice hockey at the age of seven. He idolized the great Josef Maleček growing up. Zábrodský was an incredible scorer who had major league size and very strong wrists.
    In the 1940s he probably had the best backhand shot in Europe.

    Zábrodský was noted for his strong leadership qualities and to be a very stubborn player.
    Scored more than 1000 goals in his playing career. In later years he shifted his focus to tennis (David Cup player and senior world champion in his age group).

    How would he do?: He had the size and shot to make the NHL. His skating and conditioning was also top notch. I question how he would handle the physical stuff as he sometimes seemed to shy away from the physical play. At the same time, he was a target every time he stepped on the ice in Europe, and withstood a lot of abuse. The question is if he could adjust to the hitting in all three zones.
    Zábrodský would have an outside chance with the Bruins in the late 1940s, but would probably have a better chance to shine with the Vancouver Canucks in the underrated PCHL.
     
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  5. Albatros Registered User

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    Aarne Honkavaara was the first Finnish player to train in North America, spending five months with the Sarnia Sailors of the IHL in 1950. With them he played exhibition games in Canada, but could not get a visa that would have allowed league play and thus eventually continued his career in Finland instead.
     
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  6. Pominville Knows Registered User

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    Juha Widing, the unrestful trailblaser:
    • Born in Finland.
    • Raised in the middle of Sweden.
    • Moved to my home town and played for soccer club GAIS-In hockey
    • Came of age in Canada, he actually DID play for Brandon Wheat Kings.
    • The first european bred NHL regular
    • Lived out his life in north america. Died there of alcohol.
    How can you not dig this unrestful soul? Pretty fair player as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  7. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    1955/56

    Cleveland Barons (AHL) manager Jim Hendy saw Soviet goalie Nikolai Puchkov in action at the 1956 Olympics and really liked what he saw in the 26-year old Soviet netminder.

    On February 5, the day after the Olympics ended, Hendy cabled an offer of a two-year contract to the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation. Hendy also telegraphed NHL’s central registry in Montreal to put Puchkov on Cleveland's negotiation list. The offer was $ 10.000 per year.

    Aside from Puchkov, North American observers also thought that Nikolai Sologubov, Yuri Krylov and Aleksei Guryshev were potential NHL-material. On top of that, Canadian sportswriters also added Yuri Pantyukhov to the mix.


    Name: Nikolai Puchkov
    Age: 26
    Position: GK
    Height: 178 cm / 5’10”
    Weight: 82 kg / 181 Ibs


    Nikolai Puchkov [1930-2005] - Like most youngsters of that time he played football (soccer) and didn’t start playing hockey until he was a teenager. At first he played as a forward, but shifted to goal later on. Puchkov was a fearless goalie who stopped pucks with his maskless face many times.
    He had 47 different scars in his face from pucks and sticks.

    Puchkov was an agile goaltender, very flexible and never quit on a play. Was a complex character who demanded a lot from himself. Represented Soviet Union 140 times, losing only 17 games and posting an 1.76 GAA.


    How would he do?: This position was probably the weakest among Europeans at the time in relation to North American players. However, in this case Puchkov would have had a really good opportunity to earn a starting job in Cleveland. They were weak at the position with career minor leaguer Roy McMeekin carrying the heavy workload. He was backed up by Floyd Perras, another career minor leaguer.
    The following season (1956/57), Cleveland had Marcel Paille between the pipes, which was an improvement. Puchkov in the NHL ?, no, but AHL, yes.


    Name: Nikolai ”Polkash” Sologubov
    Age: 21
    Position: DF
    Height: 179 cm / 5’10”
    Weight: 84 kg / 185 Ibs


    Nikolai Sologubov [1930-2005] – Sologubov grew up playing football and bandy hockey with a ball before trying hockey with a puck. He developed good strengths in his arms by working at a meat-packing plant when he was a youngster. He was a strong and powerful athlete. He was a WW II hero that was injured three times in combat. Sologubov was shot and also injured by shrapnel from a mine.

    He started out as a mediocre forward when he was a junior, but became one of the best European defensemen of his generation. Formed a formidable tandem on defense with Ivan Tregubov, considered to be Europes best defensive pairing in the late 1950s. Sologubov had superior tactical sense and great offensive instincts. This allowed him to freely make offensive rushes. He re-defined the blueline position as the first offensive d’man in Soviet hockey. Was in extremely good physical condition and at the age of 39 still had the best test results on his team. Sologubov was known for his iron will.
    He managed to score 133 goals in 350 league games. Represented Soviet Union 158 times, scoring 73 points (43+30).

    ”Solly is the best two-way defenceman I have seen in a long time." – Foster Hewitt, broadcaster 1956

    "Sologubov could star on any NHL-team” – Bobby Bauer, ex-NHL-star, 1956

    ”Krylov and Sologubov could become stars on any NHL club” - Milt Dunnell, sports editor of the Toronto Star, 1956

    ”Sologubov always managed to be in the right place at the right time – a magnificent player.”
    - Len Taylor, sports editor of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 1956

    ”All three are top notchers [Sologubov-Krylov-Pantyukhov] and that Sologubov could make any NHL team.” – Andy O’Brien, Montreal Star, 1956

    How would he do?: Now we don’t know what team he would play for, but „Solly“ certainly had a good chance to make an opening night roster on most teams. He had tremendous upside in 1956.
    He thrived on physical play and would do well in North America. In 1956/57 I would say that he could be a top 4 d’man on all teams (Aside from perhaps Montreal).


    Name: Yuri Krylov
    Age: 25
    Position: LW
    Height: 173 cm / 5’8”
    Weight: 72 kg / 158 Ibs


    Yuri Krylov [1930-1979) - Born in the village of Oktyabrskaya fabrika, Krasnogorsk district of the Moscow region. Krylov was the go-to-guy on many nights. He had fine overall skills and a wicked shot.
    He didn’t mind to backcheck either.

    Krylov was known to play without shoulder pads as he felt less constrained that way.
    Earlier on he formed a line together with Valentin Kuzin and Aleksandr Uvarov.
    Later in his career he played with Yuri Kopylov and Vladimir Elizarov.
    When his speed detoriated towards the end of his career, he shifted to defense.

    Scored 140 goals in 344 league games. Represented Soviet Union 109 times, scoring 57 points (42+15).

    ”Krylov has one of the finest shots I've ever seen. He gets it away hard and fast.” – Bobby Bauer, ex-NHL-star, 1956

    ”Krylov and Sologubov could become stars on any NHL club. It might take a little time for them to adapt themselves to the Canadian game. But they would make the grade without much difficulty. Both play heads-up hockey and can trade bodychecks with anyone” - Milt Dunnell, sports editor of the Toronto Star, 1956

    How would he do?: Krylov had a really good shot and was a responsible player (defensively), but he would have to settle for the minors, possibly earning a checking role in the NHL, with limited ice time.
    He could maybe catch on as a powerplay specialist.


    Name: Aleksei Guryshev
    Age: 30
    Position: C
    Height: 183 cm / 6’0”
    Weight: 88 kg / 194 Ibs


    Aleksei Guryshev [1925-1983) – Started out playing football and bandy hockey.
    Guryshev was a good sized player for his time. He was a strong player in the slot, and that's where he scored the majority of his goals. Powerful and speedy player. Had a lightning quick release of his shot.

    Guryshev fought in WW II at a young age and received numerous medals for his efforts.
    He often formed a line with Nikolai Khlystov and Mikhail Bychkov. Guryshev was the top scorer in the Soviet league five times, scoring 372 goals in 300 league games, which was a Soviet record when he retired. Represented Soviet Union 149 times, scoring 155 points (129+26).

    How would he do?: Guryshev was at the peak of his career and was a very opportunistic goalscorer.
    I would say that he was a light version of Phil Esposito. Good size, strong in the slot, very good goalscorer. He was not as physical as Espo, but was a better skater. I am not sure how he would handle the physical play, but I think he would do all right and earn a spot in the NHL. He would definitely be useful on the man advantage.

    ”Aleksel Guryshev is an excellent professional prospect.” – Bobby Bauer, ex-NHL-star, 1956


    Name: Yuri ”John” Pantyukhov
    Age: 24
    Position: LW
    Height: 175 cm / 5’8”
    Weight: 75 kg / 165 Ibs

    Yuri Pantyukhov [1931-1982) – When Pantyukhov was first discovered at the age of 14, he was deemed as an incredible talent by people in the Dynamo Moscow organization. He played football (soccer) and bandy hockey before switching to ice hockey full time as a 17-year old.

    Pantyukhov was an average sized player back then, but powerful, and was noted for being bold and fearless, often blocking shots. Pantyukhov made smart decisions on the ice. He was a well-liked player because of his upbeat, positive and friendly attitude. His cheerful disposition and wit served him well in the locker-rooms. He played on lines with Aleksei Guryshev and Nikolai Khlystov, later with Konstantin Loktev and Veniamin Aleksandrov. Pantyukhov scored 121 goals in 230 league games.
    He represented Soviet Union 118 times, scoring 91 points (59+32).

    ”They are great players [Sologubov and Krylov], so is left-winger Yuri Pantyukhov. Like Krylov, he has a deadly shot and is a fast skater.” – Bob Hesketh, sports writer for Toronto Telegram, 1956

    How would he do?: He would probably have adapted faster to North America than many other Eastern European players. Had the perfect personality and mindset to fight for a spot in the NHL.
    This and the fact that he was a team player first would probably make him accepted faster than many other Europeans. Having said that he would probably have to do some time in the minor leagues.
    I don’t think he would be a star in the NHL, but could have been useful in a lesser role.
    I would say that he would have been somewhat of a sleeper.
     
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  8. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    Thanks for your input Albatros, much appreciated. I am very aware of Honkavaara, a great Finnish hockey pioneer and the star of the national team in the 1950's. I met him a couple of times, but was unaware of his North American experience as he never mentioned it. Could you please post or give me pointers to contemporary newspaper sources of his time with Sarnia. From what I can gather he played two games with them.
     
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  9. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    Thanks Pominville Knows. you are (almost) right on all counts, Juha was born in Finland (Had a Swedish father), but grew up in Sweden and moved to Canada with his family at the age of 16.

    You are right, he battled alcohol addiction for many years, but his official cause of death was a heart attack. Great man and an underrated and underappreciated hockey player.
     
  10. Pominville Knows Registered User

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    He had a swedish father so long as some 10th generation american expat is an american. Or why not some decendant to the original swedish-americans.
    Swedish-Finns is a protected class over there though and have a sweet culture that seem oriental with them speaking swedish but in a peculiarly clear and almost true way. I have viewed it as the best swedish out there, honed through a rich local litterature.
     
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  11. Albatros Registered User

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    Unfortunately I have no access to the local newspapers of Sarnia from the time, but the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat published a small article about it on August 21, 1950:

    "Aarne Honkavaara moves to Canada

    Our hockey team's perennial center forward, Aarne "Teeterer" Honkavaara of Ilves Tampere has been invited to transfer to Canada for the upcoming season. There he will play from October 15 to April 1 near Detroit for the amateur Sarnia Sailors Hockey Glub (sic), which has among other achievements beaten Canada's recent World Championship representative Edmonton Waterloo Mercury. Behind Honkavaara's trip are Canadian Finns, represented by Mr. Teppo Lehvonen.
    "

    There's a short interview of Mr. Honkavaara in English with a question concerning this:

    International Hockey Legends: Aarne Honkavaara

    As a semi-interesting side note, Mr. Lehvonen's son Henry would later play as one of the the first Canadians in Finland arranged in turn by Mr. Honkavaara. Henry had played a couple of games in the NHL for the Kansas City Scouts, but injuries ended his hopes for a successful professional career in North America. Ilves was in the end also not willing to sign him with his bad knee, but the then-lesser Helsinki team Jokerit did and Henry played a leading role in their own little Miracle on Ice humiliating Herb Brooks's Team USA 4:1 in an exhibition game before the 1980 Olympics.

    e: Apparently Mr. Honkavaara also wrote several letters to Finnish newspapers from Sarnia, these are fairly long and he explains the differences he has encountered. First and foremost he demanded artificial ice rinks to be introduced in Finland as soon as possible, instead of relying only on natural ice which in his opinion held the development of ice hockey in Finland back.
     
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  12. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    1957/58

    Boston Bruins opened their training camp on September 15 at Boston Garden. 55 players reported to the camp. 4 goalies, 17 defensemen and 34 forwards. It was the largest training camp squad the Bruins fielded in 20 years. Many were curious to see the Swedish star player, Sven "Tumba" Johansson.

    ”If what I’ve heard about him is correct, we may have got ourselves a pretty fair hockey player. He’s worth a look, anyhow,” - Lynn Patrick, Boston Bruins general manager



    Name: Sven ”Tumba” Johansson
    Age: 26
    Position: C
    Height: 188 cm / 6’2”
    Weight: 86 kg / 190 Ibs

    September 13 – Tumba in a Bruins uniform for the first time

    Tumba skated for the first time at the Garden, wearing a Bruins uniform for the first time upon his arrival , He also had to endure a photoshoot.

    Coach Milt Schmidt was thrilled to see Tumba skate. ”Well, I know one thing, the Swede’s a skater!,” Schmidt said.

    September 18 Tumba injured right from the start

    During scrimmage Tumba was accidentally slashed by Leo Boivin. X-rays revealed that Tumba suffered a slight fracture of his left wrist, and he had the wrist placed in a cast.

    This was not exactly an ideal start for his tryout. Interestingly enough there were two Swedish centers named Johansson at the Bruins training camp...well sort of. Norm Johnson’s Swedish father Axel changed the family name from Johansson to Johnson when he came to America.


    September 21 First game for Tumba
    Boston Bruins-Springfield Indians
    4-2

    Despite his damaged wrist and a cast, Tumba wanted to play. He centered the second line with Johnny Peirson and Willie O’Ree [The first guy who broke the color barrier in the NHL]. Tumba did not pick up any points but did not look out of place.

    After that Bruins played another three pre season games, two against the Rangers (3-4 and 6-1) plus one game against Providence (4-2). Tumba was nursing his injured wrist and didn’t play.


    September 29
    Tumba scores his first goal
    Springfield Indians-New York Rangers
    2-1

    Tumba was assigned to Springfield, the Bruins farm team. After a nice oass from Floyd Smith, Tumba opened the scoring at 12:04 of the first period. He shot a 10-footer past goalie Bruce Gamble.


    October 10Three assists for Tumba in his pro debut
    Quebec Aces-Montreal Royals
    5-4

    In his Quebec Aces debut, Tumba made a definite impression on the 2000 people at hand.
    The tall Swede centered the third line with Bob Sabourin and Jacques Gagnon.
    The entire line was on fire and scored all five goals for Quebec.

    The first assist for Tumba came after only 6:46 of the first period (1-0). His second assist at 9:17 of the second period was his prettiest. Tumba sent a nifty pass from the corner of the rink, right on the blade of Gagnon who completed his hat trick to put Quebec ahead 3-2.

    17 seconds later Tumba set up Sabourin for a goal. It was an impressive debut for Tumba


    October 13
    Exhibition assist for Tumba
    Quebec Aces-Ottawa Canadiens
    8-4


    This was an exhibition game and Tumba once again did a good job on the same line (Sabourin and Gagnon). The entire line operated in high gear, especially in the third period. The line scored three goals and Tumba had a second assist on the first Quebec goal at 15:12 of the first period.


    October 15 Tumba and Quebec shut out
    Quebec Aces-Chicoutimi Sagueneens
    0-2


    Tumba once again played between Sabourin and Gagnon, but the entire team was anything but impressive.


    October 17
    The Fog puts the nail in the coffin
    Quebec Aces-Shawinigan Cataracts
    1-4


    Quebec lost again in front of a disappointingly small crowd of 1107. League leading Shawinigan was clearly the better team. Fred ”The Fog” Shero, later the Flyers cup winning coach, scored the winner for Shawinigan.

    Tumba’s three game trial with Quebec ended here, but CAHA extended his trial to five games.


    October 20Tumba out with a flu
    Quebec Aces-Montreal Royals
    3-6


    Tumba’s missed this fourth game due to a flu.


    October 22Tumba’s best game
    Quebec Aces-Three Rivers Lions
    3-2


    Tumba was back in action. This time he centered a line with his Bob Sabourin and Ken Hayden.
    It was a fast and interesting game, wide open and physical.

    Quebec opened the scoring after 3:12 of the second period. Tumba set up the play, carrying the puck through the opposition into the offensive zone. He deftly passed to Hayden who quickly relayed it to Sabourin, who scored into an half-empty net.

    According to newspapers Tumba made by far his best showing so far and was on the ice for two of the three Quebec goals.


    October 24 Benchwarmer in his last game
    Quebec Aces-Shawinigan Cataracts
    8-3


    Tumba was initally going to play with Sabourin and Hayden once again, but instead he was only used as a spare forward and got minimal of ice time. By this time it was decided that he would not sign a professional contract, hence the decision by the coach to use him just as an extra forward.


    ”We offered Tumba a contract, but he didn’t want to lose his amateur status.He’s a graduate from the university in physical education and he wants to work at it.” – Lynn Patrick, Boston Bruins general manager

    "He said if he could make the grade in the N.H.L. he'd be glad to play for nothing. But he's too old to be a prospect. What hampers him over here is the rule which permits bodychecking all over the ice.
    In Europe you can only bodycheck in your own defensive zone. They have the same rule in college hockey in the United States and until the rule is changed I don't think you're going to find any American college player breaking into the N.H.L."
    – Lynn Patrick

    "I did everything possible to make Tumba turn pro but he had too much going for him as an amateur hero in Sweden." – Lynn Patrick

    "I was most pleasantly surprised what Johansson showed in our training camp last summer. He´s a fine skater and excellent stickhandler.” Lynn Patrick

    ”Because he´s one of Sweden´s top soccer players and he has some other business going for him, Johansson does not want to come over here for six months."Lynn Patrick


    Sven "Tumba" Johansson [1931-2011] – His maternal grandparents were Germans. As a youngster he moved to Tumba on the north side of Stockholm. While playing he quickly earned the nickname “Tumba” which stuck with him for the rest of his life.

    He was a brilliant skater with good technique. Tumba also had great touch around the net.
    He was defensively weaker but seldom gave the puck away. Tumba did absorb a lot of physical abuse from opponents who tried to stop him in any way possible. He was a vocal player who inspired his teammates to always give it everything out on the ice. He also represented Sweden in football (soccer) and later became a passionate golfer (scratch).


    How would he do?: During his tryout Tumba showed everyone that he definitely had the capacity to play in the NHL. Unfortunately he was hampered by some nagging injuries but still did well.
    No doubt would he be behind guys like Fleming Mackell, Bronco Horvath and Don McKenney on the depth chart among the Bruins centers at the time. I think that Tumba would spend the majority of the season on the Bruins farm team. Having said that, I do think he would have had a fair chance to be called up during the season for a few games.
     
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  13. Robert Gordon Orr Registered User

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    Ok, so this is the last post on this topic for this week.

    1958/59

    Boston Bruins general manager Lynn Patrick and owner Walter Brown scouted European players when they visited the World Championships in Oslo 1958. They took a closer look at several players, amongst them was Lars Björn, the Swedish defenseman [On recommendation by Tumba Johansson.]

    Four Russians caught their attention during the World Championships.
    Veniamin Aleksandrov drew attention from three NHL-clubs (Toronto, Boston and Chicago).
    In the end it was Chicago who put him on their negotiation list. Three other players were of NHL-quality according to Boston Bruins manager, Lynn Patrick.

    Nikolai Sologubov, once again attracted attention, and so did his defensive partner Ivan Tregubov, as well as Yuri Kopylov.


    Name: Lars ”Lasse” Björn
    Age: 26
    Position: DF
    Height: 192 cm / 6’3”
    Weight: 95 kg / 209 Ibs


    Lars Björn [1931-2011] – The grandfather of former NHL’er Douglas Murray. Björn is considered one of the all-time great defensemen in Swedish hockey history. He was a tough and relentless defenseman who gained a lot of respect for his way of patrolling the blueline. He was a slow skater but was a dominant force physically.

    Björn had good leadership qualities. In the 1950s he formed one of Europe’s best defensive tandems together with Roland Stoltz. He was a captain both on his club teams and on the national team.
    Björn had outstanding balance and long reach. He had a rather weak shot and was a bit awkward when skating backwards. In total he represented Sweden 217 times.

    ”Johansson recommended Lars Bjorn, who he said is a standout defenseman and one of the big reasons the Swedes beat the Russians and Americans last year. He indicated that Bjorn would turn professional if the salary was high enough.”Lynn Patrick, Boston Bruins general manager, February 1958

    "He´s a good player, but he´s not ready for Boston. I have no intention of signing him”
    - Lynn Patrick, March 1958


    How would he do?: I think that the North American type of hockey would suit him pretty well, despite Patrick's scepticism. He had great size, could hit and didn’t try to be fancy. His was a rather poor skater, but at the smaller Garden ice surface he wouldn’t be as handicapped. His shot wasn’t that good so he would probably not see much powerplay time. He would most likely play on the Bruins farm team the first year, then after that, he would maybe crack the Bruins lineup [in a limited role].


    Name: Veniamin Aleksandrov
    Age: 20
    Position: C
    Height: 181 cm / 5’11”
    Weight: 79 kg / 174 Ibs


    Veniamin „Venia“ Aleksandrov [1937-1991] - Like many Russian players from this era he began playing football (soccer) before switching to hockey. Aleksandrov was a classic and reliable winger who seldom made any mistakes. He played a simple, effective and clean game. Aleksandrov was a masterful puck handler with an incredible stick technique.

    Over the years Aleksandrov grew from being more of an individualistic player into a good team player and became very versatile along the way. He was a good goalscorer who bulged the twine 351 times in a little more than 400 league games. Between 1956 and 1968 Aleksandrov scored 330 points (220+110) in 258 games with the Soviet national team.

    “Aleksandrov could play in the NHL right now.” – Lynn Patrick, general manager of the Boston Bruins, 1958

    How would he do?: Aleksandrov, the blonde bomber would have been interesting to see in North America. He was only 21 years old at the time, so there was a lot of upside to his game.
    I think that his game would have been pretty well suited for pro hockey. I believe that he would earn a spot on Chicago based on his style of play. He would have a good chance to earn the third LW spot behind Bobby Hull and Ted Lindsay.



    Name: Ivan Tregubov
    Age: 28
    Position: DF
    Height: 185 cm / 6’1”
    Weight: 83 kg / 183 Ibs


    Ivan Tregubov [1930-1992] – A native of Livadka, but his family moved to Vladivostok in the far east before the war. Both his father and older brother left for the front, leaving the 11-year old Tregubov alone with his mother. He soon started to play football and bandy hockey with a ball. When he discovered the new sport of hockey with a puck, he got hooked for life.

    Tregubov formed one of the best defensive tandems in Europe with Nikolai Sologubov for many years.
    Tregubov was a rock hard and physically strong defenseman who played very smart in his own zone.
    He was a master at holding on to the puck exactly as long as needed before dishing off a precise pass.

    He was extremely tough to beat on one-on-one situations. Tregubov was twice voted as the best defenseman at the World Championships. He was known for his witty humour off the ice, far from his ”Ivan the Terrible.” nickname given to him by the North American media.
    He scored 60 goals in 283 league games. Represented Soviet Union 180 times, scoring 87 points (55+32).

    The Russian defenceman Tregubov could play in the NHL any day. He’s not as good as Doug Harvey or Bill Gadsby, but close behind.” – Wren Blair, coach and general manager, Whitby Dunlops, 1958


    How would he do?: Tregubov would thrive in North America. He was tough and durable and did not back down from anything. He could take and dish out hits. If he would end up on the same team as his defensive partner Nikolai Sologubov, then I'm confident that they would earn a permanent spot in the NHL. I would say that he was a more skilled version of his NHL-contemporary, Warren „Rocky“ Godfrey.


    Name: Yuri Kopylov
    Age: 28
    Position: C
    Height: 178 cm / 5’10”
    Weight: 80 kg / 176 Ibs


    Yuri Kopylov [1930-1997] – Averaged sized center who was physically much stronger than his size.
    Did a lot of work that went unnoticed on the ice. Coaches always found him useful as he didn’t seek any personal glory, but was more of a team player. Formed a successful line together with Vladimir Elizarov and Yuri Krylov.

    He scored 131 goals in 320 league games, winning the Soviet championships six times.
    Represented Soviet Union 50 times, scoring 38 points (28+10).


    How would he do?: Had many underrated qualities, but would most likely play in the minors.
    But I think that his excellent physical condition would make him useful as an emergency call up to the NHL. However, the adjustment to North American hockey would be a questionmark.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
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  14. Sanf Registered User

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    Love it. I did fair amount of research on this some years ago. And all that is lost due to computer crash... :(

    Most of these I was aware of (though the Geran comments are gold. Never seen them before). Also did Aho and Ahlberg actually participate Rangers camp? Was it joined camp with Kitchener? I was aware of them playing in NA, but wasn´t aware them being in NHL teams camp. That´s pretty great. Also wasn´t aware of Jean Paupardin.

    Well few that I could easily remember. Jorma Valtonen with Penguins camp in 1974. I know you made a cut for 1972, but deserves a mention. I could easily find a source for this, but I´m fairly certain you are aware of it.

    Esa Isaksson was invited to Blues camp in 1969 according to sources. There is the HIFK connection so I´m fairly certain it´s correct.

    The Edwardsville Intelligencer
    May 28, 1969

    ...Jirik helped the Czech team upset Russia twice in world cup play, setting off wild celebrations in Prague earlier this year. The other commitment came from Finn Esa Isaakson. Two or three other European players have also been invited to the Blues' camp....

    Arne Carlsson got interest also from Red Wings. Quite interesting player. Slightly underrated today. I would guess he could have even made it in NA.

    Provo Daily Herald March 23, 1970
    STOCKHOLM (UPI) Scandinavian hockey stars Lennart Svedberg, Arne Carlsson and Veli Pekka Ketola will be offered professional contracts with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League.

    Mike Daski a representative of the Red Wings said the players would start out in the farm system.

    Then there is the case of Unto Wiitala (RIP) with training camp invitation from Red Wings in mid 1950´s. It has even made to his Finnish HHOF page. But never have able to find anything from NA papers.
     
  15. Sanf Registered User

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    Refreshing my memory... and just quickly trying to find some source for these.

    Håkan Nygren was on North Stars negotiation list also

    December 18, 1966
    The Winona Daily News

    The Minnesota North Stars have added Hakon Nygren, 22-year-old Swedish National team center, to their NHL negotiation list, according to General Manager Wren Blair. Nygren, 6-0, 185-pounds, plays for both the Swedish Nationals and the MoDo Athletic Club...

    Also I believe that they had somesort of option for Ulf Sterner too and tried to get him into camp? Can´t quickly find source for that though. Out of memory they obtained Sterner rights and even send him a plane ticket to get him there.

    And talking about Sterner wasn´t he in Chicago Cougars camp in 1972 with Benny Andersson (don´t know much about him). I remember that there were some contract issues... Won´t be writing those out of memory. Also I believe that Arne Carlsson was invited too for Cougars camp?

    Then there was Ilpo Koskela who was invited to Maple Leafs camp in 1972. Never attended. Mononen did, but I´m sure you knew that.

    The Lowell Sun
    September 22, 1972

    ...Ballard has gone to Finland specially to scout Valtonen, but wound up issuing invitations to forward Lauri Mononen and Defenseman Ilpo Koskela as well...

    Then I remember lots of rumours about both Abrahamsson´s going to Sabres...

    The Leader-Post - Google News Archive Search
     
  16. Mint mailataikuri

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    [​IMG]

    I always remember this photo, thanks to the # 100 Valtonen wore at the training camp.
     
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  17. Sanf Registered User

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    Couple more (and I have hunch that you already know these)... Firsov in Kings list in 1969 atleast according to Larry Regan and Kharlamov on Black Hawks list in 1972. I would make a guess that these player may have been on several teams list on different points.

    Times Colonist
    February 07, 1969

    ..."It sounds like Russian propaganda to me," said Regan. "First of all, the Kings own Firsov´s playing rights. He´s on our negotiation list and we certainly didn´t offer him any $100,000...

    The Montreal Gazette - Sep 23, 1972
    ...Valeriy Kharlamov, the 24-year old Soviet forward who starred in the four games in Canada, has been on the Chicago Black Hawks´ negotiation list since last June. Toronto´s Harold Ballard and Minnesota´s Walter Bush had expressed interest in him...

    I remembered that Tretiak was on Red Wings list after Summit Series, but apparently that happened few years later...
     
  18. DN28 Registered User

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    Thank you very much for posting this great stuff, RGO! Very interesting topic for me. I´ll contribute with everything I´ve found over the next few weeks.

    1) Bohumil Modrý.
    I was looking for any of his NHL involvement a lot few years ago but I couldn´t find anything. Despite of the fact that I do remember reading or hearing some information about this as well in the past. If I find anything in the future, I´ll post it here.

    2) Jaroslav Drobný.
    I see you calling Drobný as an RW. Wasn´t he primarily a center? I thought he always played C.

    3) Vladimír Zábrodský.
    Just to add a bit to his interesting background, Vladimír´s parents met in Russia during the Russian civil war. His father was a member of Czechoslovak Legion - military units fighting for the independance of Czech and Slovak nations abroad during the First World War. Most of the Legion soldiers were active in Russia, after November 1917 fighting against Bolsheviks on the side of the Russian Whites and Entente Powers.

    So Vladimír Zábrodský senior found his wife and mother of his two children during this anti-red army campaign. Interestingly enough, the wife was not ethnically a Russian, she was of Tatar / Mongolian / Turkic origin. During the subsequent times of peaceful 1920s-30s Czechoslovakia, Zábrodský senior had a well-paid job in one of Prague´s banks. On top of that he also trained the LTC´s kids and I believe he also worked as some sort of LTC´s scout, as he was instrumental in getting young Ladislav Troják, the first prominent Slovak player, into the LTC Prague team. It was one of Prague´s upper middle class families, Zábrodský junior recalls in his autobiography how his father paid close attention to his athletic development. Relatively modern hockey equipment wasn´t too much of a problem to buy for his sons. Likewise, the family also enjoyed winter vacations in Italian Alpes, where young Vladimír learnt how to ski. These trips were fairly rare due to expenses for any Czech family at the time, even for most of Prague families.

    It blows my mind that with this whole historical and economic background, Zábrodský senior was actually a member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia! Hard to comprehend it, certainly an anomaly... Although it needs to be said he wasn´t a stalinist per se, and I believe he was expelled from the Party soon after 1948. He was never an active member and his shattered illusions after the communists seized the power was a tough pill to swallow for him, as his son remembers it in his book. Suffice to say, his son never shared any pro-communist views, in his autobiography he even states that what was happening after the communist coup in February 1948 was worse than what was happening during the German Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

    As far as 'Vovka' Zábrodský´s possibility of NHL exposure goes, I´d actually be a bit more optimistic in terms of his prospects of regularly playing and even to "star", perhaps, on Boston Bruins squad. Thing about him was that he actually played and trained hockey regularly since he was a little kid under his father´s careful guidance. I don´t think he lacked something in technical aspect of his game. He was also smart player, tall, well-built physically... Although I do see a similar downside as you, that is his "stubborness" that didn´t exactly made him into a coach´s favourite player, whatever that coach would be. Zábrodský had to have a say, at least, about the team´s tactics, lineups and so on, which created his issues with Mike Buckna for example. However, I do think that he would find a way to be effective even in environment where hitting in all three zones is allowed.

    4) Sologubov, Alexandrov, Groshev
    And to add to the topic itself, i.e. the early Europeans in North America, I posted a short overview about Maurice Richard´s visit in Prague for the WHC 1959 ten months ago. Richard, among other things, said at the public conference which players, he thinks, could make an impact at North America. It was Nikolai Sologubov, Veniamin Alexandrov (nothing new here), and Evgeni Groshev (a new name).

    Here is the image of the article:

    Richard v Praze a o Sovětech v NHL v 59.JPG
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
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  19. alko Registered User

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    Very nice topic about Maurice Richard. Now im curious, how was NHL followed in Czechoslovakia back in 50s. Was it well know league? How many infos could the people have?
     
  20. DN28 Registered User

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    Hard for me to answer. I know for a fact that in the 1960s, NHL was very closely followed by enlightened heads of the Czechoslovak hockey association (men like Vladimir Kostka, Ludek Bukac..). Czechoslovak sporting press regularly published various articles about NHL, about their star players, about NHL scoring, about history of O6 teams and then later about expansion teams. National team players, touring the North America quite a lot during the 60s, also watched the games regularly either on TV or live at the stadiums. They instantly recognized players such as Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr.

    But the 1950s? Errr... I mean players, coaches definitely knew about the existence of NHL, knew that it´s the best league in the world, probably vaguely knew the best NHL players such as Richard, Beliveau and so on. But I tend to think the NHL was not yet strictly followed at this time. At least, I assume, the press didn´t pay a whole lot of attention to North American hockey since we are in the 50s - the peak of communist totalitarianism in Czechoslovakia, where everything you do and everything you do not do, is somehow political and ideological in nature. In general, 1950s hockey in Czechoslovakia was a hot mess without any consistent structure and leadership and responsibility. "Proven cadres" were put in charge of the hockey development, and by "proven cadres" I mean communists without a single thing knowing about hockey were making decisions. It was the darkest period of Czech hockey for sure.
     
  21. alko Registered User

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    But according to the article about Maurice Richard, NHL had already a name in public.
     
  22. DN28 Registered User

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    I don´t know what you´re alluding to but as I said, there was surely a vague knowledge about NHL and their best players but I´m dubious that the 1950s Czech media coverage of NHL hockey was as wide and relatively thorough as it was during 1960s or 1970s.

    I could be wrong though, I haven´t studied the 1950s in great detail yet.
     
  23. Sanf Registered User

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    I was trying to find if I had any bookmarks left from my research. Did find few.

    The Montreal Gazette 22.2.1969
    After a recent tour of Scandinavia, Jimmy Skinner, The Detroit Red Wings chief scout, put a Finn, Tommi Salmelainen, and two Swedes, Lennart Svedberg and Arne Carlson, on the Wings´negotiation list. Salmelainen is a left wing and the other two are defencemen. "Svedberg is an excellent puck carrier and Carlsson is about the size of Doug Barkley, and likes rough stuff."

    So no new names. Carlsson and "Buffalo" Salmelainen may be bit unknown names, but it´s easy to make a guess why they got so much interest in NA.

    The Leader-Post 21.12.1968
    Four Czech players are currently on the negotiation list of St. Louis Blues of the NHL west division.

    They are Josef Horeskovsky and Jaroslav Jirik, both defencemen, and forwards Josef Golonka and Jan Havel.


    So no new names here either. Golonka just and addition to your list (as a Blues). And I´m aware that there are mistakes in NA papers.

    The Minneapolis Star
    September 14, 1967

    Blair reports that he hasn´t heard from Sterner who played in St.Paul several years ago, but has sent him plane tickets...

    That´s a snipet that I had in my notes. Also I believe that Håkan Nygren did actually participate to the camp? North Stars and Wren Blair was after lot of international hockey players. Also including Canadian and American ones.

    Also about Modry. Never found anything either. Was the claim that he got an offer from Canadiens? Canadiens is actually team that I have rarely seen give interest to early Europeans.
     
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  24. a79krgm Registered User

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    Smart pick by the New York Raiders for drafting Vlad Tretiak. What an opportunity lost for Vlad. :)
     
  25. Noma Registered User

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    A small trivia about Seppo Lindström: a Finnish magazine published a story a few years back claiming that Lindström is actually the father of Teemu Selänne. Teemu's father Ilmari has confirmed he's not the biological father of his, but wouldn't disclose who is. Lindström hasn't commented on the matter either.

    I don't know if this is true or not, but a small tidbit on a player on the list anyway.

    At least based on just looks, the theory is not that far-fetched:
     
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