Wednesday, June 22, 2011
With the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, to be held in St. Paul, Minnesota, just two days away our countdown to the draft takes a look today at the first Minnesotan ever selected in the NHL Draft.
Walter "Wally" Olds of Baudette, Minnesota (located on the Canadian border) played collegiate hockey for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers from 1967-68 to 1970-71. Olds, a defenseman, played in 96 games and scored 21 goals and 36 assists during his three years on the varsity team.
Following his sophomore season, Olds was selected in the 5th round, 57th overall, by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft, making him the first Minnesotan ever chosen in the seven drafts held up to that point.
Following his career at Minnesota, Olds was a member of the silver medal winning United States Olympic Team at the 1972 games in Sapporo, Japan where Olds and his defensive parter Charlie Brown were not on the ice for an even strength goal the entire tournament.
The silver medalist 1972 United States Olympic hockey team
"He was one of the finest Olympians we ever had," said his Olympic coach Murray Williamson, who coached the 1972 silver-medal U.S. team. "He was a very intelligent gentlemen, very team-oriented and as even-mannered as you could get."
While Olds continued to play hockey, the NHL was not to be, as he never suited up for the Red Wings. At the same time the Olympic hockey tournament was concluding in Japan, Olds was again drafted, only this time by the New York Raiders of the upstart World Hockey Association.
Olds played 20 games for the Long Island Ducks of the Eastern Hockey League in 1972-73 during their final season, as well as the New York Raiders of the WHA for 61 games of their inaugural season.
He stayed in the New York City area the following season as a member of the Long Island Cougars of the North American Hockey League during their first of only two seasons of action. Olds had a good season, scoring 17 goals and 53 points in 67 games.
It was yet another brand new club for Olds in 1974-75, when he moved down the east coast to join the Hampton Gulls debut season in the Southern Hockey League. There, he had by far the finest offensive season of his career when he set personal bests with 19 goals and 61 assists for 80 points to place third on the team in scoring.
He also found time to play in five regular season games with the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League that same year.
The 1975-76 season saw Olds split his time between the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, where he played in 35 games, as well as making a return to the WHA with the first year Calgary Cowboys for 28 games.
The following season Olds moved to Europe and joined Kapfenberg of the Austrian league and then competed for the United States at the 1977 World Championships and again in 1979 while competing during the regular season in Germany.
He also played in Switzerland with HC Davos during the 1980-81 season before again playing in the 1981 World Championships, his third and final appearance for the United States.
His also spent time with the Frolunda Indians in Sweden's Elitserien, where in 35 games Olds tallied seven goals and 14 points during the 1981-82 season.
We have found mention of Olds playing in Norway, but no statistical information to verify which seasons, but if listed chronologically, he would have played in Norway following his time in Sweden.
Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Wally Olds jersey as worn during Olds junior and senior seasons in Minnesota following his selection by Detroit in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft, making him the first Minnesotan ever selected in the history of the NHL draft.
The 1969-70 season was the first for this style Gophers jersey, which was used for just three seasons prior to being replaced by the first jersey to use the block "M" logo, which remains in use to this day.
Reproductions of this jersey can be purchased from our friends at VintageMinnesotaHockey.com, who generously supplied today's photos of Wally Olds.
Striking Silver - the story of the 1972 US Olympic Hockey Team, of which Wally Olds was a valued member.