Thursday, December 29, 2011
Left winger Scott Gruhl first played two seasons at Northeastern University where he started off slowly with 6 goals and 10 points in 17 games in 1976-77. The following season he led the Huskies in scoring with 21 goals and 59 points in 28 games, an average of over two points per game.
Undrafted, Gruhl played Canadian junior hockey in 1978-79 for the Sudbury Wolves, racking up 35 goals and 84 points in 68 games. He turned professional in 1979-80 when he began his lengthy International Hockey League career with the Saginaw Gears. He led the Gears in scoring with 53 goals and 93 points in 75 games. A second season in Saginaw saw a virtually identical result, with 56 goals and 90 points. 19 points in 13 games followed in the postseason, a the Gears captured the Turner Cup with a sweep of the Kalamazoo Wings.
Now part of the Los Angeles Kings organization, Gruhl was assigned to the New Haven Nighthawks of the American Hockey League for two seasons, during which he scored 28 and 25 goals, as well as making his much hoped for NHL debut. Called up by the Kings, Gruhl played in 7 games in 1981-82, which included scoring his first NHL goal, as he registered a pair of goals and an assist. 1982-83 saw him also see action in 7 games, during which he scored two assists.
It was back to Michigan and the IHL for the 1983-84 season, as Gruhl joined the Muskegon Mohawks, who he led in scoring with 40 goals and 96 points. The franchise changed it's name to the Muskegon Lumberjacks for the 1984-85 season, as Gruhl had a career year, scoring 62 goals and 64 assists for 126 points, all career bests. He placed second in the league scoring race and was named the IHL's MVP.
The Lumberjacks would make it all the way to the Turner Cup Finals, beginning a period of success that would see them play in the finals six times in eight seasons.
Despite his stellar offensive season, no NHL opportunities were forthcoming for 1985-86, and Gruhl once more suited up for the Lumberjacks, for whom he scored another 59 goals and 109 points. During the postseason, Gruhl had 20 points in 14 games as Muskegon won the Turner Cup with a sweep of the Fort Wayne Komets.
Two more seasons with the Lumberjacks saw Gruhl add 34 goals followed by 28 in 1987-88, a season during which he made his awaited return to the NHL, this time with the Pittsburgh Penguins for six games during which he scored one goal.
Back in Muskegon in 1988-89 and 1989-90 back to back 92 point seasons saw Gruhl score 37 and then 41 goals, as well as two more Turner Cup Finals appearances, winning the championship in 1989 while contributing 19 points in 14 playoff games.
After seven seasons in Muskegon, Gruhl remained in the IHL, only now with the Komets. He brought not only his prodigious offensive skills, but his knack for playoff success as well, for during his first season in Fort Wayne, he extended his streak of 20 goals seasons to 12 as the Komets made it to the Turner Cup Finals.
During his second season in Fort Wayne, he scored 44 goals and 105 points to lead the Komets in scoring. Another 34 goals arrived in 1992-93, two of which he scored on this date in 1992 against the San Diego Gulls, giving him 551 and 552 to become the IHL's all-time leading goal scorer, breaking the record held by Joe Kastelic.
Gruhl added 15 points in 12 playoff games as Fort Wayne won the Turner Cup, the fourth for Gruhl in his career. For the 1993-94 season, he spilt his time between the Milwaukee Admirals and Kalamazoo, scoring a combined 21 goals to extend his 20 goals or more streak.
The Richmond Renegades of the ECHL was the next stop for Gruhl, leading the team in scoring in 1994-95 with 31 goals and 71 points. 17 playoff games and 18 points later, Gruhl was once again a champion, as the Renegades defeated Greensboro for the Kelly Cup, the fifth championship of Gruhl's career.
His final season in professional hockey saw him lead the Renegades in scoring yet again, this time with 46 goals, which meant for his entire 17 year professional career, Gruhl scored at least 20 goals, a testament to not only his scoring abilities, but his durability as well, as he never played less than 49 games in a season and 16 seasons of 55 or more, 9 of which were over 70 games played.
Upon his retirement, Gruhl held the IHL career goal scoring record for regular season and playoffs combined. His final regular season IHL total was 532, and with his 54 AHL, 77 ECHL and 3 NHL goals added together, his professional tally was 666.
Today's featured jersey is a 1981-82 New Haven Nighthawks Scott Gruhl jersey. Done in the colors of their parent club at the time, the New York Rangers, this Nighthawks jersey features a very stylized crest, which may actually contain a hawk somewhere inside of it.
The Nighthawks were founded back in 1972 and played with the Nighthawks name until 1991-92 before changing their name to the Senators for one season prior to relocating from Connecticut to Prince Edward Island and later Binghamton, New York, where they are still known as the Senators.
Note the somewhat haphazard customization of the jersey, particularly the red drop shadow on the 6, which not only goes correctly down and to the left, but also to the right as well!
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1987-88 Pittsburgh Penguins Scott Gruhl jersey worn during his six games with the Penguins in 1987-88, the final NHL action of his career.
The Penguins changed from their previous navy blue jerseys to black and yellow during the 1979-80 season to match the colors worn by Pittsburgh's two other major league clubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates of major league baseball and the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, both of whom had won championships in 1979.
The Penguins wore this basic style all the way until 1991-92, closing out it's run with back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. The jerseys did pass through several periods of detail changes, such as the placement of the sleeve numbers, angle of the sleeve stripes, heat sealed customizing, later replaced by sewn on twill, changes in font for the names, which included two color names, one color names, letters with serifs and letters without and finally a change in font for the numbers as well.
Feel the excitement at the Muskegon Lumberjacks win the 1986 Turner Cup and team captain Scott Gruhl accepts the Turner Cup.
In this next clip, Dave Michayluk scores late in a game against Sokol Kiev from the Soviet Union on an assist from Gruhl while the Lumberjacks were wearing their Pittsburgh Penguins inspired jerseys.
Gruhl's career is one of two dozen documented in "Journeymen: 24 Bittersweet Tales of Short Major League Sports Careers".