Monday, March 13, 2017

1978-79 New England Whalers Blaine Stoughton Jersey

Blaine Stoughton, born on this date in 1953, began his road to the professional hockey ranks with four seasons with the Flin Flon Bombers of the WCHL, with the first being the 1969-70 season. His point totals his first two seasons were 39 and then 50, before a giant leap upward for the 1971-72 season when he scored more goals than he had points the previous season with 60 goals and 126 points to lead the WCHL in scoring. He also added an additional 121 penalty minutes to go along with his offensive output. The following season he came close to matching his previous year with 58 goals and 118 points.

Having been born at the right time, Stoughton was turning pro during the NHL vs WHA war for players, which led to an enormous increase in salaries for the players. Stoughton was thus drafted 14th overall by the Quebec Nordiques of the WHA and 7th overall by the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.

PIttsburgh won out for the rights to sign Stoughton and he was assigned to their minor league club in the AHL, the Hershey Bears, with whom he scored 40 points in 47 games before a call-up to the Penguins for 34 games.

Just prior to the start of the 1974-75 season, Stoughton was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal which sent Rick Kehoe to Pittsburgh. In 78 games with Toronto, he scored 23 goals and 37 points. Despite the 20 goal season, he split time in 1975-76 between Toronto (43 games, 17 points) and the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League (30 games, 36 points).

Stoughton Maple Leafs photo StoughtonMapleLeafs.jpg

For the 1976-77 season, Stoughton jumped to the WHA's Cincinnati Stingers, who had obtained his rights from the Nordiques in the WHA expansion draft. The move to the free wheeling WHA was a revelation for Stoughton, who teamed with Rick Dudley and Rich Leduc to form the high powered "LSD Line".

Stoughton Stingers photo StoughtonStingers.jpg

Stoughton and Leduc each had 52 goals to finish fourth in the league, with Leduc's 107 points 7th overall and Stoughton's 102 good for 9th, while Dudley reached 88. Despite their success, the line would not stay together long, as 30 games into the 1977-78 season, Stoughton and Gilles Marotte were traded to the Indianapolis Racers after Stoughton did not fit into new head coach Jacques Demers system.

The change to Indianapolis was brief, as Stoughton finished out the season with the Racers, scoring just 13 goals in 47 games, and after playing the first 25 games of the 1978-79 season, the Racers , who were on the verge of folding, was sold to the New England Whalers where he finished out what would prove to be the final days of the WHA as well.

For the 1979-80 season, the Whalers were part of a complex deal which saw four surviving WHA clubs enter the NHL and Stoughton's rights revert back to Toronto, only to be claimed by the newly renamed Hartford Whalers in the subsequent Expansion Draft.

 photo StoughtonWhalers.jpg

Stoughton thrived during his first season back in the NHL, finishing eighth in scoring with 100 points while leading the league with 56 goals, becoming only the second player after Bobby Hull to score 50 goals in both the WHA and the NHL. The Whalers even made the NHL playoffs that season, only to have Stoughton break his leg during their opening game against the Montreal Canadiens. It would also be the last playoff game of his career, as the Whalers would not qualify for the playoffs for another six seasons.

He returned to play 71 games of the 1980-81 season after ending a contract holdout, scoring 43 goals and 73 points. He again reached the 50 goals mark in 1981-82 with 52, which placed him 6th in the league and allowed him to lead the team in scoring for the only time with 91 points. He also made his only NHL All-Star Game appearance that season.

After his fourth consecutive 40 goal season, scoring 45 in 1982-83, Stoughton played his final 54 games with the Whalers in 1983-84 prior to being traded to the New York Rangers as the Whalers then all-time franchise goals leader in late February of 1984.

Stoughton Whalers photo StoughtonWhalerslongpants.jpg
Stoughton during the 1982-83 season wearing
the controversial long hockey pants

His 5 goals for the Rangers in 14 games would be the last of his NHL career, as he spent the 1984-85 season with the New Haven Nighthawks of the American Hockey League when he did not make the Rangers roster in training camp and no other teams claimed him.

After two seasons away from pro hockey, Stoughton would play one final stint as a pro, with 15 games of the 1987-88 season with HC Asiago of the Italian Serie A.

Stoughton would play 526 NHL games, scoring 258 goals and 449 points, as well as an additional 89 goals and 179 points in the WHA for a total of 628 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 1978-79 New England Whalers Blaine Stoughton jersey as worn during the Whalers final season in the WHA prior to the league's demise and it's entry into the NHL for 1979-80 season.

After their first two seasons wearing green and white and a circular crest on their road jerseys, the Whalers added gold trim to their color scheme and simplified the crest on their jerseys to just the "W" bisected with a harpoon for the remainder of their time in the WHA, with only a subtle change to the waist striping for their last two WHA seasons, going from a wide white stripe with gold trim to a "Northwestern" pattern, meaning the gold trim was moved outward from the white waist stripe, allowing the green jersey color to separate the white from the gold.

 photo NewEnglandWhalers1978-79jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1979-80 Hartford Whalers Blaine Stoughton jersey. When the club was forced to change it's name from "New England" to "Hartford" at the request of the Boston Bruins, the Whalers adopted a new whale tail logo, altered their color scheme from green and gold to green and blue and unveiled an entirely new set of modernized jerseys that they would wear for the next 13 seasons with only minor detail changes, although the "Pucky the Whale" patches were discontinued in 1985-86.

 photo HartfordWhalers1979-80Fjersey.jpg
Hartford Whalers 1979-80 jersey photo HartfordWhalers1979-80Bjersey.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1976-77 Cincinnati Stingers Blaine Stoughton jersey. The Stingers wore essentially the same jerseys for their all-to-brief four year run. With the Stingers name lending itself to a multi-stripe theme, it's a wonder the Stingers jerseys were as reserved as they were.

The Stingers logo is a wonderful piece of graphic design and looks as modern today as it did when it was first conceived, and has always been a favorite of ours.

Cincinnati Stingers 1976-77 jersey photo CincinnatiStingers1976-77Fjersey.jpg
Cincinnati Stingers 1976-77 jersey photo CincinnatiStingers1976-77Bjersey.jpg

Today's video section begins with Stoughton discussing his time with the Whalers.

Next, a feature on the cocky and confident Stoughton showing him and his mustache in the Whalers training camp.

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