Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Connie Madigan's career began in his hometown Port Arthur Bruins of the Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League in the 1952-53 season. After three seasons with the Bruins, Madigan moved up to the senior level in 1955 with the Peniction Vees of the Ontario Senior Hockey League for two seasons.
Madigan, a defenseman, also played for the Nelson Maple Leafs of the Western International Hockey League in 1958-59 where he was named to the WIHL First All-Star Team after helping lead the Maple Leafs to the Allan Cup as the champions of Canadian Senior Hockey. He then joined the Fort Wayne Komets of the International Hockey League for the following season, where he established a personal high with 57 points in 66 games.
After a second season with the Komets of Fort Wayne, Madigan moved west to play for the conventionally spelled Comets of Spokane in the Western Hockey League for the 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons. Eventually Madigan was traded to the Los Angeles Blades after an argument with his Spokane coach that included a threat to trade Madigan, to which he responded "go ahead." Within the hour Madigan was on his way to Los Angeles!
After one season in Los Angeles, he was traded across the country to the Providence Reds of the American Hockey League. He would play in just ten games for Providence to begin the 1964-65 season before once more being traded for cash to the Portland Buckaroos back in the familiar WHL.
It was with Portland that Madigan's nomadic hockey career, which had seen him criss-crossing the North American continent would finally find a place to call home. Madigan became a stalwart on the Buckaroos blueline for the next nine seasons, never playing less than 60 games a year.
His first season with Portland would be a successful one, as the Buckaroos captured their second Lester Patrick Cup in franchise history as champions of the WHL. 1966-67 saw Madigan record his second 50 point season as a professional with 51 points and be named to the WHL First All-Star Team for the first of four consecutive seasons. Additionally, he was named the recipient of the Hal Laycoe Cup as the WHL's Outstanding Defenseman.
1964-65 WHL champion Portland Buckaroos
In 1969-70 Madigan left Portland for a ten game stint with the Dallas Black Hawks of the Central Hockey League, the fifth league he had now played in since turning professional back in 1958.
Back with Portland for the majority of the season, Madigan still had enough time to surpass the 100 penalty minute mark, keeping alive the rugged defenseman's streak that now stretched to 14th seasons and would eventually reach 18 consecutive seasons.
1970-71 would see the Buckaroos capture another Lester Patrick Cup following a season in which Madigan would establish a career high with 67 points which came in 72 games.
1970-71 WHL champion Portland Buckaroos
Following a 56 point season in 1971-72, Madigan began the season with Portland as usual, but on the final day of 1971, the unthinkable happened - he was sold.
While Madigan being traded for cash was not that unusual, as it had happened a number of times earlier in his career, the unthinkable element was to whom he was sold. The St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League.
So it came to be on this date in 1973 that Connie Madigan of the St. Louis Blues became the oldest rookie in NHL history when he made his debut in a 3-3 tie against the Montreal Canadiens at the age of 38 years old.
At the time of his debut, his coach Jean-Guy Talbot was only two years older than Madigan and some of his teammates had not even been born yet when his career began!
Filling in for a pair of injured Blues defensemen, Madigan played in 20 games for St. Louis, scoring three assists and seeing action in five playoff games.
That would be the extent of Madigan's NHL career, as the Blues would sell him to the San Diego Gulls of the WHL for the start of the 1973-74 season. After 39 games with the Gulls, he once again returned home to Portland when he was sold yet again in February of 1974. Back with the Buckaroos he finished out the regular season and one final playoff run in the spring of 1975 before closing out his career with ten games in 1974-75 at the age of 40.
At the time of his retirement, Madigan was second in penalty minutes in minor league history.
His retirement would not be his final time on skates however, as Madigan appeared as Ross "Mad Dog" Madison in the greatest hockey movie of all time, "Slap Shot" starring Paul Newman in 1977.
Ross "Mad Dog" Madison
Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Portland Buckaroos Connie Madigan jersey. The Buckaroos began play in 1960-61 and took the name of a previous franchise which played in Portland from 1928 to 1941.
The team had a smashing debut, winning the WHL title in it's very first season. They went on to capture two more championships in 1965 and 1971.
They remained in the WHL until it folded in 1974. The franchise lingered on for another two seasons in first a semi-professional league and then a new amateur league, which did not last a full season, bringing and end to the Buckaroos after 15 seasons.
Today's video segment begins with a feature on Madigan presented by the Portland Winter Hawks, who saluted the Buckaroos on March 14, 2009.
In a a real unexpected find, Madigan slugs it out in a brief clip with Real Lemieux of the Los Angeles Kings during Madigan's time in the NHL.
This next video feature on the Portland Buckaroos, has some classic footage that is really a joy to see, and it's followed by some former Buckaroos, including Madigan, talking about their time in Portland.