Sunday, March 8, 2009

Phil Maloney

I recently picked up this great old Western Hockey League program from Oct. 3, 1968. On the cover is a really cool illustration of Canuck vet, Phil Maloney. Maloney was the heart of the Canucks for almost fifteen years, amassing 923 points in 818 games. He was Western League MVP twice and most gentlemanly player three times. Also, Maloney holds the WHL record with eight points in a game. Over 21 seasons in the high minors, (including the AHL and QHL) he counted 1350 points in 1234 games. As a a 22 year old he played a full season with the NHL's Boston Bruins and had a terrific rookie year with 15 goals and 46 points. He finished second in Calder voting to teammate Jack Gelinaeu.
After retiring as a player in 1970, Maloney turned to coaching and would take over the NHL Canucks halfway through the 1973/74 campaign. He served as coach and GM until '77 and led the 'Nucks to their first ever first place finish in 74/75. Under Maloney's guidance for three seasons, Vancouver had a .478 winning percentage.
Back to the program, it's from an exhibiton game against the Toronto Maple Leafs who's lineup that evening included Tim Horton, Pierre Pilote, Ron Ellis Paul Henderson and Dave Keon. The Canucks of 68/69 were coming off a last place finish but looked to remedy that problem with the outright purchase of the AHL champions Rochester Americans. This infusion of talent (including Bryan Hextall, Len Lunde and Don Cherry) along with the aquisition of Andy Bathgate would propel the Canucks to a 29 point improvement and an eight game sweep to the playoff championship. They would also draw over 270,000 fans during the first full year of the Pacific Coliseum and would surpass it the following year with 330,000 an average of almost 10,000 per game. Of course, an NHL franchise would soon follow.

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