A Look At the Best Soo Greyhounds Of All-time

By pbadmin

A lot of people know about the Soo Greyhounds and their history of having good teams and being able to win games at just the right time. What people don’t realize is the fact that a lot of very good players got started in Sault Ste Marie. Wayne Gretzky and Charlie Simmer are both prime examples. Also, there were some players that didn’t quite make it into the NHL but still had tremendous junior careers (Ralph Intranuovo). I’m here to take a look at some of those former players and talk about their careers in the Sault.

Let’s start with Wayne Gretzky. “The Great One” spent one season with the Greyhounds and it was a magnificent one. Gretzky played with the Greyhounds as a 16-year-old and led the team in scoring with 70 goals and 182 points (holds OHL record for most assists, 112, and points, 182, by an OHL rookie). He was also the 1st Greyhound player to have his jersey retired.

Wayne Groulx was probably the second best Greyhound player ever behind Gretzky. Groulx spent 4 seasons with the Greyhounds and led the team in scoring in all 4 seasons. Groulx sits tied for second with Dale McCourt on the OHL’s all-time list for career points (477), just 2 points behind Stan Drulia.

Charlie Simmer, who was a member of the Los Angeles Kings Triple Crown Line, spent some time in the Sault also. He was a fan-favorite and was depended on to score during his only year with the team (1973-74). He scored 45 goals and 99 points in his only season in a Greyhounds uniform.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks coach Craig Hartsburg started his OHL career as a 16-year-old and won the Max Kaminsky Trophy (Most Outstanding Defenseman) as a 17-year old while scoring 29 goals and 93 points. Hartsburg spent 3 seasons with the club (1975-76 to 1977-78) and then left, along with Wayne Gretzky to play in the WHA.

Jack Valiquette was the 1st real star that the Greyhounds had. Valiquette was chosen with the 1st overall pick in the 1973 OHL draft. He proved that he deserved to go 1st overall by scoring 63 goals and 135 points in his rookie year (1973-74). Valiquette, along with Charlie Simmer (45 goals, 99 points) and Cary Farelli (51 goals, 125 points), combined for a total of 159 goals and 359 points and the team still didn’t make the playoffs.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck backstopped the Greyhounds for 3 seasons from 1980-80 to 1982-83. “Beezer” holds the Greyhounds team record for most wins in a season by a Greyhound goalie with 39 and the best single season record at 39-20-1 set in the 1982-83 season.

The Greyhound teams of the early 90′s also produced some quality players. Those years the Greyhounds team featured players like Joe Busillo, Tony Iob and Colin Miller.

Tony Iob was another solid performer for the Greyhounds. Iob could do it all. He could put the puck in the net like a sniper and drop the glove like a league heavyweight. He spent 1 season in the Sault (1991-92) and in one of his 1st games with the team after coming over to the team from Kingston he potted a hattrick. The crowd went completely crazy. Iob finished the season with 28 goals and 62 points and an OHL title.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Kevin Hodson helped the Greyhounds in their drive towards 3 straight Memorial Cup berths from 1990-91 to 1992-93. He also won the Memorial Cup with the Greyhounds in 1992-93.

Current Boston Bruins centre Joe Thornton spent 2 seasons with the Greyhounds and was the 1st Greyhound player ever to be chosen 1st overall in the NHL draft. In 1996-97 Thornton scored 41 goals and 122 points. In his rookie season Thornton won the Emms family award as the OHL rookie-of-the-year. Five other Greyhound players have won the award (Jack Valiquette-1973-74, John Tavella-1975-76, Wayne Gretzky-1977-78, John Goodwin-1978-79 and Derek King-1984-85).

Here is a list of former Greyhounds who played in the NHL in the 1997-98 season alone:

Player 1997-98 Team
Drew Bannister Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Jeff Beukeboom New York Rangers
Bob Boughner Buffalo Sabres
Adam Foote Colorado Avalanche
Mike Fountain Carolina Hurricanes
Ron Francis Pittsburgh Penguins
Sean Gagnon Phoenix Coyotes
Aaron Gavey Calgary Flames
Wayne Gretzky New York Rangers
Kevin Hodson Detroit Red Wings
Denny Lambert Ottawa Senators
Troy Malette Tampa Bay Lightning
Marc Moro Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Bob Probert Chicago Blackhawks
Chris Simon Washington Capitals
Jeremy Stevenson Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Steve Sullivan Toronto Maple Leafs
Joe Thornton Boston Bruins
Rick Tocchet Phoenix Coyotes
Jeff Toms Washington Capitals
John Vanbiesbrouck Florida Panthers
Rob Zettler Toronto Maple Leafs

Keep in mind that this list is just for the 1997-98 season. It doesn’t include all of the other players that played in the NHL and retired like Craig Hartsburg, Charlie Simmer and Gord Dineen just to name a few.
As for award winners the Greyhounds have had a lot of very talented players that were recognized by the OHL and CHL for their outstanding play. Those players and the awards that they won include:
Year Player Trophy

1972-73 Jack Valiquette
(Eddie Powers Trophy–OHL leading scorer)

1973-74 Jack Valiquette
(Emms Family Award–Rookie of the year)

1974 Jack Valiquette
(Red Tilson Trophy–Most Outstanding Player)

1975-76 John Tavella
(Emms Family Award–Rookie of the year)

1975-76 Mike Kaszycki
(Eddie Powers Trophy–OHL leading scorer)

1976-77 Craig Hartsburg
(Max Kaminsky Trophy–Most Outstanding Defenseman)

1977-78 Wayne Gretzky
(William Hanley Trophy–Most Gentlemanly Player)

1977-78 Wayne Gretzky
(Emms Family Award–Rookie of the year)

1978-79 John Goodwin
(Emms Family Award–Rookie of the year)

1980-81 John Goodwin
(Eddie Powers Trophy–OHL leading scorer)

1980-81 John Vanbiesbrouck
(F.W. “Dinty” Moore Trophy–Rookie goalie with best GAA)

1980-81 John Goodwin
(William Hanley Trophy–Most Gentlemanly Player)

1981-82 Marc D’Amour & John Dave Vanbiesbrouck
(Pinkey Trophy–Best team GAA (3.51))

1983-84 Gerry Iuliano
(F.W. “Dinty” Moore Trophy–Rookie goalie with best GAA)

1984-85 Derek King
(Emms Family Award–Rookie of the year)

1984-85 Scott Mosey & Marty Abrams
(Dave Pinkey Trophy–Best team GAA (3.24))

1985 Wayne Groulx
(Red Tilson Trophy–Most Outstanding Player)

1990-91 Mike Lenarduzzi & Kevin Hodson
(Dave Pinkey Trpohy–Best team GAA (3.27))

1990-91 Kevin Hodson
(F.W. “Dinty” Moore Trophy–Rookie goalie with best GAA)

1995-96 Joe Thornton
(Emms Family Award–Rookie of the year)

1996-97 Joe Seroski
(Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy–Highest Scoring Right Winger)

1996-97 Joe Thornton
(CHL Valvoline Top Draft Prospect Award)

1997 Jake McCracken
(Bobby Smith Trophy–OHL Scholastic player of the year)

As you can see the Greyhounds have had many great players over the past 27 seasons. Those players have made the Greyhounds organization as successful as it is. Consider this: 7 division titles, 3 first overall finishes, 3 league playoff titles, 4 Memorial Cup appearances (one as the host team) and 1 Memorial Cup Championship.