Friday, June 6, 2014
Born on this date in 1958, an Edmonton, Alberta native, Wayne Babych played for his hometown Edmonton Mets of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in 1973-74, where the right wing put up a respectable 20 goals and 38 points in 56 games.
Staying close to home, Babych moved up to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League for the 1974-75 season, where he scored 19 goals and 36 points. He more than doubled his point total for the following season, thanks to an increase to 32 goals as well as 46 assists for 78 points.
Babych stayed with the franchise when it relocated in 1976-77, becoming the Portland Winter Hawks, with whom he impressed with back to back 50 goal seasons. In 1977, he added 62 assists for 112 points, and topped that with 71 in 1978 for 121 points, leading the team in scoring by 32 points.
Following the season, Babych was selected third overall by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL Amateur Draft. He made the Blues roster straight away, playing 67 games his rookie season, scoring 27 goals and 63 points in 67 games. He backed that up with 61 points in 1979-80 in only 59 games.
Seemingly shot out of a cannon, Babych scored more goals than he previous two seasons combined when he finished in sixth in the league with 54 goals, just one back of Wayne Gretzky at 55 to become the first 50 goal scorer in Blues history while playing on a line with Blake Dunlop and Jorgen Pettersson. His 54 goals, 42 assists and 96 points were far and away his career best in all three categories, as were his 93 penalty minutes.
He would play three more seasons with St. Louis, never scoring more than 44 points or reaching 20 goals thanks to a torn rotator cuff which suffered in a fight during a preseason game in 1981.
His time in St. Louis had run it's course, and Babych was claimed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1984 waiver draft, where his first season went well, as he did manage 20 goals and 54 points.
Thinking he was going to be back with Pittsburgh the following season, fate had surprises in store for Babych, as he was dealt to the Quebec Nordiques after playing in just two games. Things went well in Quebec, having gotten off to a nice start with 11 points in 15 games, only to be sent back across the border when the Nordiques dealt Babych to the Hartford Whalers for the remainder of the season, where he joined his brother Dave Babych and scored 28 points in 37 games.
The hockey card makers had trouble keeping up with
all the movement Babych endured in 1985-86
His final season was an abbreviated one, having suffered a horribly broken leg in the preseason. Told he might never play again, he would spend nearly the entire season recovering in time to play six rehab games with the Binghamton Whalers in the AHL, the only minor league games of his career, before playing in Hartford's final four games of the season. Giving it a try in training camp the following season, pain and fear of further injury were too much, and Babych called it a career.
His final totals were 519 games, 192 goals and 246 assists for 438 points, and one magical 50 goal season.
Today's featured jersey is a 1980-81 St. Louis Blues Wayne Babych jersey as worn during his career year when he scored a career high 54 goals and 96 points.
St. Louis joined the NHL in 1967 with jerseys that had the colors reversed on their striping. They swapped to today's featured jersey's configuration in 1973-74 and gained names on the back in 1977-78 before the attractive shoulder striping (added to match the white home jersey) was added in 1979-80. This classic Blues style would remain in use until being replaced in 1984-85.
In today's video section, Babych looks back on his time in St. Louis with the Blues.
Next is an interview with Babych on the occasion of a rough night, where he suffered a broken cheekbone from an elbow and a broken nose in the subsequent fight!