Tuesday, February 17, 2015
We're going to keep this one short today.
Goaltender Darren Pang, born on this date in 1964, was the first netminder ever drafted by the expansion Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League for the 1981-82 season, where the rookie immediately made 47 starts. The following season the diminutive "Panger" played 12 games for the Bulls, with a poor 3-8 record and a goals against average of 4.63 prior to a trade to the Ottawa 67's, which allowed him to shine. In 47 regular season games for the 67's, the 5' 5" Pang posted a 28-14-3 record and a goals against average a full goal per game lower at 3.65.
His second season with Ottawa say Pang finish with a 29-10-1 record and a 3.03 goals against during the regular season. In the playoffs, Ottawa defeated the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL Finals to advance to the Memorial Cup, which was hosted by none other than Kitchener. After defeating the Mario Lemieux led Laval Voisins 6-5, they beat the Kamloops Junior Oilers 5-1 before losing to Kitchener 7-2 to close out the Round Robin portion. Their two wins placed them in the Semifinals, where they again soundly defeated Kamloops 7-2 to set up a final meeting with Kamloops for the championship. There, Pang and Ottawa turned the tables and captured the 67's first Memorial Cup with a 7-2 victory of their own. Pang was named the Best Goaltender of the tournament and named to the tournament All-Star Team.
Undrafted, Pang signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Blackhawks organization, who assigned him to the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL for the 1984-85 season, where he saw action in 53 games. He also made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks, giving up four goals and taking the loss in his only start. By taking the ice in an NHL game, Pang became the second shortest goaltender in league history, after the 5' 3" Roy Worters, who played from 1925 to 1937 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Americans.
Pang would spend another season in the IHL, this time with the Saginaw Generals, going 21-21 in 44 games. He again played 44 games for Saginaw in 1986-87 with an improved record of 25-16-0 as well as 7 games, winning 4, with the Nova Scotia Oilers of the AHL.
Pang while with Saginaw
He made the Blackhawks roster out of training camp for the 1987-88 season and split time with Bob Mason. In all, Pang played in 45 games for Chicago, leading them in wins (17) and goals against (3.84).
Pang once again was a member of the Blackhawks for the 1988-89 season, but was unable to fully seize the reigns as a true #1 in an extremely muddled goaltending situation. While Pang led the club in appearances with 35 games, Alain Chevrier, who arrived in a trade from Winnipeg played 27 games, rookie Ed Belfour (23 games) and Jimmy Waite (11), both of whom spent time in the AHL with Saginaw and Chris Clifford (1) all saw time in goal for Chicago. The competition for playing time was intense and as a result Pang also did see two games in Saginaw, but returned in late February to finish the season with the Blackhawks which included two playoff games in relief of Waite.
The following season of 1989-90 was one of very limited action for Pang, as he would only see 7 late season games on goal for the Indianapolis Ice of the IHL, but with a strong 2,54 goals against and a 4-1-2 record. Additionally, he would go 3-1 in four playoff games, sharing time with Waite, who went 9-1 as the Ice would capture the Turner Cup as IHL champions.
Those playoff appearances would prove to be Pang's final games, as he would suffer a career ending knee injury during training camp the following season which sent him on a new path as a successful and popular broadcaster, which he is now better known for than being a goaltender.
Today's featured jersey is a 1987-88 Chicago Blackhawks Darren Pang jersey as worn during Pang's first full season with the Blackhawks when he led the team in appearances, wins and goals against average. This jersey is distinguished from the following season's jersey by the Gunzo's branding on the back, who were the customizers of the Blackhawks jerseys at the time.
During this time period there were a few other clubs who displayed logos from their customizers on their jerseys, such as the Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1985-86 Saginaw Generals Darren Pang jersey. The one feature of this jersey we noticed right away was how the numbers on the back are placed so high that it forces the nameplate up into the blue shoulder yoke.
The Generals relocated from their previous home in Flint in 1985 and changed their name to the Saginaw Hawks to strengthen their tie to their parent club, the Chicago Blackhawks, meaning the Saginaw Generals name only was used for Pang's two seasons with the Generals.
In today's video segment, Pang shows he's still got the quick reflexes he displayed as a goaltender when he snares and errant puck while reporting from between the benches during a broadcast.
Here "Panger" demonstrates his fun personality that has made him so popular as a broadcaster as he embraces his small stature.