Thursday, September 22, 2016

Neal Broten Autographed Card

Minnesota North Stars founder Walter Bush, who was also a one-time Hockey USA President, died earlier today, at 86 years old. Per AP:
The Minneapolis native was enshrined into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980, the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000, and the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2009. Awarded the Olympic Order in 2002, he managed the 1959 U.S. national team and 1964 U.S. Olympic team, serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1963.
Bush was selected the NHL's Executive of the Year in 1972 by The Hockey News, and won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1973 for his contributions to the sport in the United States. As USA Hockey president, Bush played a large role in the addition of women's hockey to the Olympics in 1998.
As a tribute, I thought I could feature the player who, to me, best represents the North Stars, perhaps the player who had his best seasons wearing the green and yellow uniform (save perhaps for Bobby Smith): Neal Broten.

Both his brothers Paul and Aaron also played in the NHL, but Neal was the All-Star in the family.

A star with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (with whom he won the NCAA championship in 1979), he followed his head coach Herb Brooks to the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and was a part of the famed "Miracle On Ice" edition of Team USA - a pretty sweet deal for a 20-year-old who would return to College Hockey and go on to win the Hobey Baker Award as its best player.

He then joined his home state North Stars - who had drafted him 42nd overall at the 1979 draft - at the end of the 1980-81 season, scoring twice in their final three games, and posting 8 points in their first of two Cinderella Stanley Cup Final runs. His actual rookie season was spectacular, scoring 38 goals (a career-high), with 60 assists and 98 points.

His career-high for points - 105, the first American-born player to surpass the 100-point mark - came in 1985-86, but he was a point-per-game player until the 1989-90 season (85 points in 80 games).

His best playoff performance was the 22 points (including 9 goals) in 23 games in the team's second Cinderella run, in 1990-91.

He followed the team to Dallas in 1993 but was traded to the New Jersey Devils early in the 1994-95 campaign, culminating in his lone Stanley Cup win, after posting an impressive 19 points (including 7 goals) in 20 games, second-best to Stéphane Richer's 21 on the defensive-minded team coached by Jacques Lemaire. He and Ken Morrow (of the powerhouse 1980s New York Islanders) are the only two members of the Miracle On Ice team t have their names on the Stanley Cup.

His final season, 1996-97, was more difficult, suiting up for the Devils just thrice and spending time with their IHL affiliate Phoenix Roadrunners before getting traded to the Los Angeles Kings for future considerations, then put on waivers and claimed by the Dallas Stars to finish his career with the franchise he'd started it with.

Here he is taking the puck to center ice in the North Stars' white (home) uniform, on card #28 from Score's 1991-92 (American Edition) flagship collection, which he signed in blue sharpie:
He retired having played 1099 regular-season games, scoring 289 goals with 634 assists for 923 points, with 35 goals and 63 assists for 98 points in 135 playoff games.

To me, he's the quintessential North Star (apologies to Smith and Mike Modano), and the best Minnesota-born player, ahead of Zach Parise.

No comments:

Post a Comment