Showing posts with label andre lacroix. Show all posts
Showing posts with label andre lacroix. Show all posts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The 4 Bill Hunter Trophy Winners In The WHA

andre lacroix san diego mariners o-pee-chee hockey card
Over the entire seven year history of the WHA, the Bill Hunter Trophy was given out each year to the player in the rebel league that finished the regular season with the most points. To put it another way, it was the World Hockey Association’s equivalent to the NHL’s Art Ross Trophy.

 Just four players won the award over the seven years, three winning on two occasions. Looking back, one would think that hockey greats Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe would be among this select group. However, that is not the case.

Andre Lacroix

Playing for the Philadelphia Blazers in the WHA’s inaugural season, Andre Lacroix was the first ever recipient of the Bill Hunter Trophy. Lacroix scored 50 goals and assisted on 74 others in 1972-73 for a total of 124 points. He was also the Bill Hunter Trophy winner two years later in 1974-75 as a member of the San Diego Mariners. That season, he scored just 41 but assisted on 106 for 147 points. He is one of just four major league hockey players to surpass 100 assists in a season. The other three are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr.

Andre was no stranger to being at the top of a scoring race. He won the Eddie Powers Trophy in 1965-66 as the OHA’s top point-getter while playing major junior for the Peterborough Petes. Lacroix played in every WHA season from 1972-73 to 1978-79. He also appeared in 325 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Black Hawks and Hartford Whalers.

Mike Walton

In between Lacroix’s two Bill Hunter Trophy wins was Mike Walton, WHA scoring champion in 1973-74. Walton scored 57 goals and assisted on 60 for 117 points with the Minnesota Fighting Saints. It was the first of three years Walton would play in the WHA, all with Minnesota. He had a respectable NHL career, playing in 588 regular season games between 1965-66 and 1978-79 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. Not a Calder Trophy winner in the National Hockey League, Walton made some hockey trivia, winning the CHL rookie of the year in 1964-65 and the AHL rookie of the year in 1965-66.

Marc Tardif

The Quebec Nordiques dominated the Bill Hunter Trophy for the final four years of the WHA with Marc Tardif and Real Cloutier alternating victories. Tardif won in 1975-76 with 71 goals and 77 assists for 148 points. His 154 points on 65 goals and 89 assists in 1977-78 will forever be a WHA record for most points in a single season. At the time, it was a major league record, two points better than Phil Esposito’s total with the Boston Bruins in 1970-71.

Tardif was the second overall pick at the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. He played parts of four seasons with the Habs before jumping to the Los Angeles Sharks of the WHA for the 1973-74 season. He moved to the Nordiques midway through the 1974-75 season and remained with the club throughout their WHA days and four years into their existence in the NHL.

Real Cloutier

Real Cloutier is the only one of the four players to begin his career in the WHA. He was a ninth overall draft pick of the Nordiques at the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft. He played with Quebec from 1974-75 until the demise of the WHA after the 1978-79 season. He carried on with the NHL Nordiques for four more years and ended his NHL career with two partial seasons with the Buffalo Sabres.

Cloutier was the Bill Hunter Trophy winner in 1976-77 and 1978-79. In his first win, he scored 66 and assisted on 75 for 141 points. He reached 75 goals in 1978-79, adding 54 assists for 129 points. In 1973-74, as a junior with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, Cloutier honed his scoring touch with 93 goals and 123 assists for 216 points in just 69 games. However, Real was a full 35 points behind league leader Pierre Larouche of the Sorel Eperviers who led the league with 251 points.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Quebec Aces: 1967-68 AHL Offensive Powerhouse

simon nolet philadelphia flyers rookie hockey card
The Quebec Aces were nearly their twilight as an American Hockey League franchise in 1967-68. In just a few short years, the team would move south to Richmond, Virginia. The Aces placed second overall in the eight team AHL and reached the Calder Cup finals that year. Leading the way offensively were a trio of players that finished among the top four in the league for scoring. Two were on their way up to the NHL while the third well into his career and had hit a bit of a speed bump.

Simon Nolet

Nolet scored 44 goals and assisted on 52 for 96 points over 70 regular season games for Quebec in 1967-68. He placed second in the league for goals and led in points, earning the John B. Sollenberger Trophy. That year, Simon also got into four regular season games with the Philadelphia Flyers, along with one game in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Before retiring after the 1976-77 season, Simon Nolet played in 562 regular season and 34 playoff games in the National Hockey League with the Philadelphia Flyers, Kansas City Scouts, Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Rockies. He won a Stanley Cup with Philadelphia in 1973-74 and was picked up that same summer by the Scouts, fifth overall in the 1974 NHL Expansion Draft. Simon was team captain in Kansas City during the 1974-75 season and part of 1975-76 before being traded to the Penguins. For his short stay with the Rockies in 1976-77, Nolet once again wore the ‘C’.

Andre Lacroix

Lacroix spent more time with the Flyers in the NHL during the 1967-68 season and subsequently appeared in just 54 games for the Aces during the regular season. Even still, his 41 goals tied him for sixth with Howie Glover of the Cleveland Barons and he tied teammate Jean-Guy Gendron for third in points with 87.

It was Andre’s second full year of pro hockey and he finished off the year with Philadelphia, playing in 18 games and contributing a decent 14 points. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, Lacroix played another seven games, adding five points.

Andre was not far removed from being a two-time MVP in the OHA with the Peterborough Petes and still stands one of a handful of players to win the Red Tilson Trophy on more than one occasion. Lacroix would go on to become one of the greatest players in WHA history, winning the Bill Hunter Trophy as scoring champ on two occasions, once with the Philadelphia Blazers in 1972-73 and again with the San Diego Mariners in 1974-75.

Andre Lacroix played 325 regular season games in the National Hockey League with the Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and Hartford Whalers. His time with the Whalers came in 1979-80 when the remaining four WHA teams merged with the NHL. Andre played 551 regular season games in the rebel league with the Blazers, New York Golden Blades, Mariners, Houston Aeros and New England Whalers.

Jean-Guy Gendron

In his fourth year with the Aces, Gendron scored 29 and assisted on 58 for 87 points over 72 regular season games. He placed second in the AHL for assists and tied Andre Lacroix for third in points. Like the other two, he did spend time in the NHL with the Flyers that season. However, Jean-Guy’s time was limited to one regular season game.

Gendron’s NHL career began in 1955-56 and he played in 863 regular season and 42 playoff games before jumping to the WHA after the 1971-72 season. Along with the Flyers, Jean-Guy also played for the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. He ended his career with two years as team captain of the Quebec Nordiques in the World Hockey Association, 1972-73 and 1973-74.

Quebec Aces 1967-68

The Vic Stasiuk coached Aces finished second in the four team West Division and second overall in the eight team AHL with 77 points over 72 games. They reached the Calder Cup finals before falling to the Rochester Americans in six games. Interestingly, over the three rounds of playoffs, Quebec scored 55 goals and allowed 55 goals. In the opening round against the Buffalo Bisons, each team scored 21 goals. In the 2nd round against the Providence Reds, the Aces had the edge 13-10. In the finals, the Amerks outscored Quebec 24-21.

The Quebec Aces were members of the American Hockey League from 1959-60 to 1970-71, although the franchise dates back to 1928-29. Upon moving south, they were known as the Richmond Robins from 1971-72 to 1975-76 before folding. The Aces never won a Calder Cup championship but went to the finals three times over their fairly brief history.