Thursday, June 17, 2010
Perhaps no other players personifies life in the World Hockey Association better than John Garrett. Born on this date and drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, Garrett, faced with the prospect of life in the minor leagues riding buses and playing in a dingy old rink for little pay while trying to crack an NHL lineup instead cast his lot with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA for a higher salary, playing time in a top professional league in a state-of-the-art, brand new arena, featuring cutting edge clear dasherboards! It was a no-brainer for many minor league players in the early 1970's to make the jump to the WHA.
In Minnesota, Garrett split time with former US Olympian Mike Curran, before becoming the number one goalie in 1974-75 with 58 appearances and a 30-23-2 record. The following season Garrett had already played in 52 of the Fighting Saints 59 games, going 26-22-4, when the franchise folded mid-season.
Minnesota Fighting Saint John Garrett - note the clear dasherboards behind him
Garrett's services were then snapped up by the Toronto Toros where their unsettled goaltending situation saw six different men play at least seven games, with none more than 26. While Garrett remained with the franchise for the next two seasons, nothing in the WHA was that simple, as the franchise relocated for the 1976-77 season to the deep south of the United States, finding a new home in Birmingham, Alabama.
Garrett's veteran experience and strong play immediately earned him the starting job and he patrolled the crease for 65 games that season and he was named a First Team WHA All-Star. He also played in 58 games in the 1977-78 season when the "Baby Bulls" were stocked with several players under the age of 20, something never before tried in major professional hockey.
A trade in September saw him dealt to the New England Whalers where he split the goaltending duties with Al Smith for the final season of the WHA. For 1979-80, the Whalers, now renamed the Hartford Whalers, joined the NHL.
During his time in the WHA, Garrett saw and lived through it all. A franchise folding mid-season, a franchise relocation, a trade and eventually a change in leagues!
Garrett led the Whalers in appearances in 1979-80 and 1980-81 with 52 and 54, respectively. With the Whalers failing to qualify for the playoffs in 1981, Garrett was chosen to be a member of Team Canada at the World Championships.
He began the 1981-82 season with Hartford prior to being traded to another WHA refugee club, the Quebec Nordiques in January of 1982 to back up Dan Bouchard.
With Bouchard again getting the majority of the playing time in 1982-83, and the Nordiques wanting to make room for future starter Clint Malarchuk, Garrett was again dealt in February 1983 to the Vancouver Canucks. While he was unable to displace established starter Richard Brodeur, Garrett did play three seasons in Vancouver to close out his NHL career.
Garrett's career concluded with 530 games played, 216 wins, 242 losses and 52 ties between the two leagues combined.
John Garrett's goalie mask history
Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints John Garrett jersey. The Fighting Saints original jerseys featured the "S" logo and were worn for the first half of their first season before being replaced by the "little saint" logo. None of the original Fighting Saints jerseys survived, as they had their crests removed and were given to Hasting High School to reuse.
Fighting Saints jerseys are some of the most sought after of the WHA game worn jerseys, thanks in part to their classic look, fantastic logo, die-hard fan base and limited availability.
Bonus Jersey: Our bonus jersey is a 1977 WHA All-Star John Garrett jersey as worn in the game in Hartford, Connecticut, won by the East All-Stars 4-2.
Our video section kicks off with a can't miss clip as Fighting Saints coach Harry Neale interviews John Garrett on his arrival with the Fighting Saints. Dig the bow tie and suit!
Next is Part 1 of an interview with Garrett as he looks back on his career and some of the humorous events that happened along the way.
Finally, a look at the Minnesota Fighting Saints 1974-75 season is this classic old film. While you are getting your groove on to the mid-70's soundtrack be sure to note the clear dasherboards used at the old St. Paul Civic Center, home of the Fighting Saints .