Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tony Hand, 4000 Points
This is Tony Hand, born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1967. He has been playing in the top hockey leagues in Britain since 1981...yes, he is still playing. Including regular and post season, mid-season club competitions and playoffs, Hand has played in 1,386 games and as of this writing just this month notched his 4,oooth point. According to the Ice Hockey Journalists UK website, he made the post season all star team NINETEEN of the twenty-three seasons from 1983-84 through 2005-06.
Sure, the top league in Britain is not the NHL, it has been compared to the calibre of the ECHL. The league however has drawn a fair amount of top players over the years, including Garry Unger at the end of his career, goalie Frank Pietrangelo, Doug Smail for a season (named top player, of course), Jim Paek and WHA star Ron Plumb. Also, top flight minor leaguers such as, Ken Priestlay, Ed Courtenay, Mike Babcock (yes, that Mike Babcock), Fred Perlini and John Craighead.
Tony Hand actually was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1986 and survived their full training camp. He was offered a contract by the Oilers and would play the year with the Western League Victoria Cougars. He played three games and tallied eight points before heading home due to homesickness. He would return to train with Victoria the following training camp before playing an exhibition game with the Oilers (assisiting on a Kevin Lowe goal). This time, Sather offered Hand a contract to play in the AHL with the Cape Breton Oilers. Hand turned it down, as he would make more money playing back home. Glen Sather is actually quoted as saying Hand was the second smartest player in camp after Gretzky, and he figured he would have had a good career.
For all of Hand`s scoring exploits, there were players who ripped up the British leagues even more than he did. The aforementioned Fred Perlini, a Maple Leaf farmhand in the early 80`s played a decade in Britain. In his 310 games he notched a simply silly 1403 points. His average of 4.53 points per game destroys Hand`s PPG of 2.90. Another Ontario boy, Rick Fera who was a point-a-game guy in the OHL went over to Britain to torch the opposition. In his 363 career games he managed a measely 1736 points. His PPG of 4.78 is only achieved by the kid in Atom hockey who hits puberty at age 10.
Some individual season records border on the ridiculous. While Hand scored at his best 105 goals in 35 games and in another season, 222points in 44 games, these are not the tops in league history. Kevin Conway, yet another Ontario native, who twice topped 120 points in the OHL, scored an amazing 148 goals in 29 games in 1987-88...ummm, that works out to over 5 (FIVE) GOALS per game. A fellow by the name of Patrick Scott notched 180 goals and 319 points in 1993-94 while playing in 56 games though for a rather pedestrian 5.70 points per game.
I would be remiss if I did not mention a guy who, also in 1993-94 (they must have been using juiced pucks...or midget goalies) scored 140 goals and 243 points. This guy`s name was Hilton Ruggles, you read that correctly, Hilton Ruggles. If ever there was a great British hockey name, his is the best. He was however born in Montreal and played in the Q, scoring 63 goals for Longueil in 1983-84. If anyone has a Hilton Ruggles hockey card, I need one.