Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today in history: June 28

A huge birthday post today.

Bill Jennings: A right wing who played parts of four seasons for the Capitals from 1940-43, and again in the fall of 44. He split the first three years between Indianapolis and Detroit, got called up to the Red Wings during the height of WWII in 1943-44, and after playing three games with the Caps early in the 1944-45 season, he was traded to the Boston Bruins, where he would become a 20-goal scorer. He played 106 games for the Caps, totaling 49 goals and 76 assists. He was known as a good two-way skater. His best year in Indy was the 1942-43 season, where he totaled 23 goals and 33 assists. He also had six goals and five assists in 17 playoff games in Indy. In 1942, he scored four goals to help lead the Caps to their first Calder Cup championship. He also played 108 NHL games, totaling 32 goals and 33 assists between 1940-45. Upon the end of WWII, he played one more AHL season in Hershey and St. Louis before retiring as a player. A native of Toronto, he was born in 1917. He passed away in 1999.

Norm McAtee: Interestingly, a player who was traded for Bill Jennings in a 1946 deal between Chicago and Boston. Norm played 30 games for the Capitals in 1945-46, totaling five goals and eight assists. He'd be traded twice that year -- first to Chicago, and then to Boston -- but play the entire year for the teams' AHL affiliates in Indianapolis, St. Louis and Hershey. In 1946-47, he played 13 games for the Bruins, tallying one assist. He spent his prime years in the Canadian Air Force in WWII. A two-way player who was seen as a strong playmaker and a pretty solid checker, Norm and his brother Judd played together with the Caps. He continued to play in the minors until 1954, playing his last three years with the IHL Troy Bruins. He settled in Troy, where he was a hockey official and radio broadcaster after his retirement from playing. He also worked for Sherwin-Williams and was a legendary local golfer. A native of Stratford, Ontario, he was born in 1921. He passed away on Aug. 25, 2010.

Jim Watson: A defenseman who played for the short-lived Capitols team in the CHL in 1963. The team only played nine games as a representative of Indianapolis before the Coliseum explosion forced them to move to Cincinnati for the balance of the year. Watson broke into pro hockey that year, and made his NHL debut in a single game with the Red Wings. He would matriculate to the NHL full-time in 1967-68, although he would split time between the NHL and the minors until being claimed by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft. He wasn't a prolific scorer, but he tallied the first goal in the team's history. He played the next six years in either the NHL or WHA with the Sabres, Los Angeles Sharks, Chicago Cougars and Quebec Nordiques. All told, he had 11 goals and 52 assists in 452 NHL/WHA games. A native of Malartic, Quebec, he is 68.

Murray Kennett: Defenseman who played 28 games for the Racers in their inaugural 1974-75 year. He had a goal, three assists and eight PIMs in that stretch. He also played 50 games with the Edmonton Oilers that year, and 28 games the next. All told, he played 106 WHA games in two seasons. He retired from hockey after the 1976-77 season. A native of Kamloops, British Columbia, he is 59.

Gary Inness: Goaltender for the Racers from 1977 until the team folded in December 1978. He played 63 games for the Racers, posting a 17-36-4 record and a 4.35 GAA during a time of roster instability. After the Racers folded, he finished the year with the Washington Capitals, and would play one more full season and a partial season with the Caps. Prior to joining the Racers, he played four NHL seasons with the Penguins and Flyers. He was called "The Man With The Golden Glove" in his stint in Washington, where he had a 3.16 GAA in his first 19 games. He went straight from Canadian university hockey to the pros, a rarity in the 1970s. Upon retirement as a player, he became a teacher, guidance counselor and coach at a school in Barrie, Ontario, and recently retired from that position. A native of Toronto, he is 62.

Roland Melanson: "Rollie the Goalie" backstopped the Checkers in 1980-81, and had a tremendous first pro season. In 52 games with the Checkers, he posted a 31-16-3 record and a 2.57 GAA in a high-scoring era of hockey. He also had two shutouts and was named the CHL's Rookie of the Year. He earned a callup to the New York Islanders that year and played in 11 regular season and three playoff games. The Islanders' third-round pick in 1979, he got the permanent call to the NHL the following year, joining Billy Smith for a formidable goaltending tandem. They shared the William Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against in 1982-83.  He won three Stanley Cups with the Islanders. He also played with the Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens in an NHL career that lasted until 1992. He also had a handful of minor-league stints. In 1992-93, he backstopped the Brantford Smoke in the upstart Colonial (later United) Hockey League and was named the league's Playoff MVP that year. He retired from playing in the 1993-94 season and entered coaching. He had a long stint with the Montreal Canadiens from 1997-2009, and is now the goaltending coach for the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks. He is a native of Moncton, New Brunswick, and is the first New Brunswick-born player to play in the NHL. He is 51 today.

Paul Skjodt:  Member of the Checkers from 1985-87, where he played 43 games, tallying 13 goals and 18 assists. Since 2004, he has been the principal owner of the USHL Indiana Ice, leading the team to the Clark Cup championship in 2009 and a division title in 2008. He remained active on the local hockey scene after his playing days, owning youth travel teams before bringing a USHL team to Indianapolis in 2004. He also owns the Junior Ice U16 and U18 teams. He has had several family members as a part of the team. His brother Charlie played for the Checkers, coached the Ice during two stints and currently serves as the team's president. His nephew Jake played for the Ice. A native of Toronto, he is 53.

Doug Moffatt: Center for the Checkers in the 1985-86 season, playing 27 games and tallying three goals and seven assists. He also played nine games for Salt Lake that year, and then embarked on a long career in Europe, where he played through 2004 in Germany. He had 40 goals in 37 games in his first year across the pond. A native of Calgary, he is 47.

Don Herczeg: Defenseman who played 15 games for the Ice in their inaugural 1988-89 season in the IHL. He tallied three assists in those games. All in all, he played five pro seasons from 1985-90, spending the most time with the Colorado/Denver Rangers of the IHL from 1987-89. A native of Edmonton, he is 47.

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