Thursday, November 17, 2011
Born on this date in 1955, Dennis Maruk caught the attention of NHL scouts while playing junior hockey for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey Association. As a rookie, Maruk scored 46 goals and 113 points in 1972-73 to break Marcel Dionne's league rookie scoring record , led the club in scoring the next season with 47 goals and 112 points before finishing third overall with 66 goals and 145 points in 65 games, an average of a goal every game and 2.23 points every time he took the ice.
Following that season Maruk was selected 21st in the second round by the California Golden Seals of the NHL as well as being taken 65th overall by the Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA, his relatively low draft positions being due to his smaller size, as Maruk was 5' 8" and 165 pounds. He chose to sign with California and immediately stepped into the Golden Seals lineup, playing all 80 games of the 1975-76 season. He would score 30 goals finish second in team scoring, just one back of Al MacAdam with 62 points.
That would prove to be the troubled Golden Seals final season in Oakland, and the club relocated to Cleveland, Ohio where they were renamed the Barons for the 1976-77 season. He led the Barons in scoring with 78 points their first season in Cleveland and again in 1977-78 with 36 goals and 71 points, 20 more than his next closest teammate which earned him his first NHL All-Star appearance.
For the 1978-79 season, the lowly Barons were merged with the even worse Minnesota North Stars, resulting in Maruk's third club in four seasons despite never having been traded or waived!
Often overlooked, Maruk had one of the finest mustaches in NHL history
Despite his obvious offensive talents, Minnesota would deal Maruk to the Washington Capitals after just two games in the green and gold, a decision Maruk would make Minnesota regret.
Maruk immediately led the Capitals in scoring with a 31 goal 90 point season. Torn knee ligaments ruined his 1979-80 season, limiting him to just 27 games after not playing less than 76 in any previous season.
He returned healthy and with a vengeance, playing all 80 games for the next three consecutive seasons while scoring 50 goals for the first time in 1980-81, good for eight in the league.
The 1981-82 season was a career year for Maruk, as he again led the Capitals in scoring with 60 goals (third in the league) and 76 assists for 136 points, which was fourth overall. His efforts were recognized with his second NHL All-Star Game appearance. Despite his career statistical highs, the Capitals and Maruk missed the playoffs yet again. Maruk's 76 assists and 136 points remain the Captials team records to this day.
While his personal scoring declined to 31 goals and 81 points, the Capitals qualified for the postseason for the first time in their history. It would also be the first time Maruk would participate in a playoff game in his now eight year career.
Maruk was not to be a part of the Capitals future however, as perhaps wishing they had been the benefactors of his 50 and 60 goal seasons, the North Stars reacquired Maruk for the 1983-84 season. A combination of getting older and the North Star style of play limited Maruk's offensive output, and Maruk would never again approach his electrifying point totals from his days in Washington.
His first four seasons in Minnesota were a model of consistency, as he would play in 71, 71 and 70 games, scoring 60, 60 and 58 points. One tradeoff for the lower scoring totals was that Minnesota qualified for the playoffs all three seasons, including a run to the semifinals in 1984.
Injuries began to take their toll on the normally healthy Maruk, and a separated shoulder and torn knee ligaments cut his 1986-87 season to 67 games and 46 points. The following season was more of the same, as he missed the start of the schedule with a lacerated tendon and sara his season end early with a shattered knee cap. He would see the ice for just 22 games that season.
The surgery required on his knee would affect his 1988-89 season, and he would eventually play just 5 games in the minors and 6 with the North Stars before retiring from the NHL for good.
Maruk's final career totals are 888 games played, 356 goals and 522 assists for 878 points.
Outside of his NHL career, Maruk also participated in the World Championships for Canada on four occasions, in 1978 winning a bronze medal, 1979, 1981 and 1983 when he brought home a second bronze.
Today's featured jersey is a 1982 NHL All-Star Game Dennis Maruk jersey. This gaudy one year only style is the most absurd of all the 1980's All-Star jerseys with it's excessive number of stars, proving quite visually that less is sometimes more.
Apparently the design team did not get the word that the disco era had ended. In addition to having far too many stars, the NHL logos on the arms would have been better served by being on the shoulders to leave room for sleeve numbers.
Fortunately sanity would prevail and the next ten years would see some of the best jerseys in the history of the All-Star Game.
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1981-82 Washington Capitals Dennis Maruk jersey, proving by comparison that less stars can be more effective.
This jersey was worn during Maruk's 60 goal season and can be distinguished by the Maska logo on the back, which was closer to the side of the jersey in previous years. Additionally, the word Washington on the front is much smaller than it was in 1979-80.
Today's video segment begins with a tribute to Maruk on the occasion of his entering the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Speaking of gaudy jerseys, here is some rare footage of Maruk while wearing Canada's loudest design ever at the 1978 World Championships against the Soviet Union.
Looking great, but sans mustache, Maruk is interviewed at the 2009 Canadian Pond Hockey Championships.