Tuesday, July 5, 2011
July by the Numbers crosses back into Canada for jersey #5.
The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League are a junior team which began play in 1962 in the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOJHA), but the name Greyhounds has been used by teams in "The Soo" as far back as 1919, as is often the case with traditional team names in Canadian Juniors.
The 1924 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The name Greyhounds was originally suggested back in 1919 as a jab at the rival Sudbury Wolves, with the thinking that a greyhound is much faster than a wolf.
The current team was formed in 1962 as a Junior A team and did not have a losing season while in the NOJHA, which included winning the championship in 1967, 1970 and 1972. While the league was originally six clubs, two eventually folded, which caused the league itself to disband, sending the Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury to seek entrance into the Ontario Hockey League for the 1972-73 season.
Their first season in the OHA was a rough one, going just 11-42-10. They managed, barely, their first winning season in 1975-76 with a 27-26-13 mark. It was in 1977 that the Greyhounds put themselves on the map when they drafted a 16 year old, 5' 8", 155 pound Wayne Gretzky in the Ontario Midget Draft.
Gretzky originally requested to wear sweater #9, but Brian Gualazzi was already wearing it. After wearing #19 for a few games, Greyhounds coach Muzz MacPherson suggested two nines would be better than one, and thus Gretzky's iconic #99 came into being.
Gretzky only played for the Greyhounds for one season before turing pro as an underage player with the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA, but while with the Soo, he led the club in scoring with 70 goals and 112 assists for 182 points in just 64 games, a 2.84 points per game average! Amazingly, he did not lead the league in goals, assists or points, finishing second in goals to Dino Ciccarelli's 72 and second in assists and points to Bobby Smith's 123 and 192, respectively.
The Greyhounds would win the league, by now renamed the Ontario Hockey League, playoff title in 1985 following a stellar 54-11-1 regular season record to advance to the Memorial Cup tournament for the first time. They returned to the Memorial Cup by winning the OHL playoffs again in 1991, 1992, this time making it to the championship final, and again in 1993, this time as the host team, while becoming one of only three teams to make three consecutive Memorial Cup appearances.
The finished the round robin portion of the competition with a 2-1 record to advance to the finals, where they delighted the home fans by capturing their first national championship with a 4-2 win over the Peterborough Petes.
The 1993 Memorial Cup champion Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
In 1997, the first Greyhound ever was selected first overall in the NHL Entry Draft when the Boston Bruins chose Joe Thornton with the first pick.
To date, the Greyhounds have won nine division titles, three league championships and one Memorial Cup. Additionally, they have retired four numbers, #1 for goaltender JohnVanbiesbrouck, #4 for defenseman Craig Hartsburg (both of whom later returned to coach the Greyhounds), #10 for Ron Francis and #99 for Wayne Gretzky.
Since 1962 a long and impressive list of notable players to have played for the Greyhounds, including Tony Esposito, Ivan Boldirev, Jerry Korab, Jeff Bukeboom, Jeff Carter, Paul Coffey, Adam Foote, Derek King, Bob Probert, Charlie Simmer, Steve Sullivanand Rick Tocchet in addition to those who have had their numbers retired.
Today's featured jersey is a 1990-91 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Adam Foote jersey. The Greyhounds have used their classic profile of a running greyhound for every one of their years of existence but four, when a new cartoonish logo was introduced for a brief period before fan backlash sent the club back to their original logo.
Today's video segment begins with the 1993 playoff game between the Greyhounds and Petes which determined that Sault Ste. Marie would host the 1993 Memorial Cup, which they would go on to win in front of their home fans.
This next video is a reunion of that same 1993 club with interviews with several of the players.