Thursday, May 15, 2014
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, right winger Paul Holmgren played junior hockey for the St. Paul Vulcans in 1973-74, scoring 22 goals and 81 points while amassing 183 penalty minutes in 55 games. That same season he also skated for the United States at the World Junior Tournament in January as was later drafted by the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA.
He next attended the University of Minnesota for the 1974-75 season under head coach Herb Brooks and continued his rugged ways with 108 penalty minutes in 37 games while scoring 31 points.
Following the season he would be drafted again, this time by the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL as well as having Edmonton trade his WHA rights to the Minnesota Fighting Saints.
He chose to forego any of his remaining college eligibility and turn professional while staying close to home with the Fighting Saints, doing his best to live up to the "fighting" part of the team's name with 121 penalty minutes in 51 games, which made him even more popular with the hometown fans. Unfortunately the Fighting Saints were also failing in their attempts to fight off their creditors, and Holmgren left the struggling team three days prior to the franchise folding.
He sought refuge with the Flyers organization and finished his season with 6 games with the Richmond Robins of the AHL and made his NHL debut with one game in Philadelphia. His fractured season also included 6 games with the Fighting Saints minor league affiliate, the Johnstown Jets, with whom he racked up an impressive 15 points - an average of 2.5 per game! His season was cut short with a scratched cornea, which sent him to the hospital where he had an allergic reaction to the anesthetic, which nearly killed him.
He recovered during the off season and was able to spend the entire 1976-77 season with the Flyers, seeing action in 59 games, where he amassed 201 penalty minutes, but proved he was not one-dimensional with 14 goals and 26 points. The Flyers two Stanley Cups my have been in the rearview mirror at this point in time, but they were still a force to be reckoned with, and Holmgren appeared in an additional 10 playoff games that season.
In 1977-78 his games played rose slightly to 62, but his point total rose nicely to 34, but the rugged play certainly remained, as his was whistled for 190 more penalty minutes. The postseason saw Holmgren play an additional 12 playoff games.
He would see the ice in 57 games in 1978-79 and raise his goal total to 19. Eight playoff games would follow, and Holmgren would score one goal for the third postseason in a row.
Holmgren followed with a career year in 1979-80, setting new personal bests in games played, with 74, assists with 35, and penalty minutes, with 267 as well as establishing career highs with 30 goals and 65 points. He would then cut loose in the playoffs, scoring 10 goals in 18 games, including becoming the first American-born player to score a hat trick in the Stanley Cup Finals, which occurred on this date in 1980 in a 8-3 win over the New York Islanders in Game 2 of the finals.
He would nearly duplicate his fine regular season in 1980-81 with 59 points in 77 games while setting career highs with 37 assists and surpassing 300 penalty minutes for the only time in his career with 306. He would again shine in the playoffs with 5 goals and 14 points in 12 games despite serving another 49 minutes in penalties. He made his only NHL All-Star Game appearance that year.
He was limited to 41 games in 1981-82 due to a separated shoulder in August of 1981 in preparation for a place on Team USA for the 1981 Canada Cup tournament, which he was forced to miss, but rebounded with 77 games the following season, just missing out on a 20 goal season with 19.
After 52 games of the 1983-84 season, Holmgren once again returned home when he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars as the Flyers all-time penalty minute leader, no mean feat considering the lineup of tough guys who came before him on the Broad Street Bullies of the mid-1970's.
His time in Minnesota was relatively brief however, as he only played in 11 games at the end of the season and 12 more in the playoffs, followed by just 16 games in 1984-85 before retiring as a player.
He became an assistant coach upon his retirement, eventually moving into head coaching followed by becoming a General Manager, first for the Hartford Whalers and later the Flyers.
His final career totals are 527 games played, 144 goals and 179 assists for 323 points and 1,684 penalty minutes. He also added another 51 points in 82 playoff games.
Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 Philadelphia Flyers Paul Holmgren jersey. This was the first season for the newly updated Flyers jersey, which now had the bold, black trim which separated the orange arms of the jersey from the white body.
This jersey also had the distinction of being worn during the second (and final) season the Flyers wore the CCM full length pants, popularly known as "Cooperalls".
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1984-85 Minnesota North Stars Paul Holmgren jersey worn during his final season of play. The North Stars adopted this style in 1978-79 and, despite updating the white home jerseys with intimidating black trim in 1981-82, continued to wear their road green jerseys without the addition of the black until 1988-89, a span of seven seasons!
This was an odd case of non-uniformity to their uniforms we have never understood, as one would think a team would want their jerseys to have a consistent look and would want to appear more intimidating on the road perhaps even more, or at least as much, as at home.
It's Old Time Hockey with Holmgren and the New York Rangers Nick Fotiu! Sometimes you have to take a few to give a few.
Here's some real nastiness, as Holmgren headbutts the Atlanta Flames tough guy Willi Plett, who doesn't hesitate to let Holmgren have one in return! How many games do you think they'd be suspended today?