Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tom Edur and the untapped careers

Tom Edur, Todd Bergen, Fred Arthur and Robin Sadler. Who are they? More specifically, what do they have in common? Firstly, they were all once upon a time, future NHL stars. What they have in common is that each and everyone of them walked away from the game for personal reasons leaving an NHL career untapped.

Tom Edur had the most successful and longest NHL career of the four. At 17 he won the Memorial Cup with the Toronto Marlboros in 1973 alongside the likes of Mike Palmateer, Mark and Marty Howe and Bruce Boudreau. He was offered $250,000 to sign for three years with the Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA and promptly notched 38 points in his rookie season. Having been drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1974, he opted to stay in the WHA for the bigger dollars. After his third year, and another 35 point season he opted to join his former Cleveland coach Johnny Wilson and the Colorado Rockies of the NHL. As a 22 year old first year defenseman, he tallied 32 points and a fantastic +14 for the second worst team in the league whose collective plus/minus was -328.

The summer after this season he became a Jehovah’s Witness.

Having been disillusioned and somewhat disappointed by the off-ice life of a pro hockey player since leaving junior, he turned to God. In a story in the Denver Post from June 1979, Edur tells how right from the start of his career he was shocked by the amount of drinking and promiscuity among the players. He begrudgingly gave in to the lifestyle, but always felt uneasy about it.

After starting the 1977 season with the Rockies, he was once again acquired by his ex-coach Johnny Wilson. This time he was traded to Pittsburgh for ex-Marlie teammate Dennis Owchar. He’d end up 77/78 with 10 goals and 55 points finishing eleventh among NHL d-men in scoring. Just prior to next training camp Edur informed the Penguins that he was retiring. Thinking he was holding out for more money, they offered him an open contract for any amount of money and as well, the option of not playing on Sundays. He declined. Even half way through the year, while he was visiting Pittsburgh, the Pens offered him $20,000 to play two weekend games. He stayed retired and committed to his faith.
The following off-season, hoping to bring Edur back to the game, the Edmonton Oilers drafted his rights from Pittsburgh when the WHA merged with the NHL. Tom Edur, was a 25 year old offensive defenseman and could have teamed up with Gretzky and the Oilers for years to come.

Todd Bergen didn’t have as long a pro career as Tom Edur, but it was electrifying while it lasted. Drafted in the fifth round in 1982 by Philly, he played two junior seasons with Prince Albert of the WHL scoring 57 goals in only 43 games during his second year. Jumping to Hershey of the AHL the following season he notched 39 points in 38 games before getting the call to the Flyers. With the big club he thrived, scoring 11 goals and 16 points in 14 games. He scored two goals in his first game against Vancouver on Jan.8 including the game winner. An abdominal injury in his second game sidelined him for two months. In the playoffs, he would lead all rookies with 13 points. Figuring he had some bargaining power he opted to not attend camp the following fall. He was suspended by the club and he abruptly retired to pursue a professional golf career (he had a -1 handicap). Some say the reason he retired was his clashes with coach Mike Keenan, for whom he was apparently a favourite “whipping boy”. He would be traded to Minnesota, and actually reported to camp in 1985. His abdominal injury had not healed and an MRI proved the injury was worse than suspected. After sitting out the entire year he played for the North Stars farm team in Springfield in 86/87 scoring 23 points in 27 games. The Stars did not offer a contract for the following year and he retired for good. After working as a golf-pro in Prince Albert he moved to Vancouver Island where he currently operates a fishing tackle business in Campbell River.

Fred Arthur was a 6’5” defenseman from Toronto. He played on back-to-back Memorial Cup winners with Cornwall in 1980 and ‘81 along with Dale Hawerchuk, Dan Daoust, Doug Gilmour and Marc Crawford. Drafted 10th overall by Hartford in 1980 he was traded to Philadelphia in 1981. He played 74 games with the Flyers in 1981-82 counting 8 points. He would be sent to the minors early in the 1982/83 season, and rather than accept demotion he retired to attend medical school. I believe Fred Arthur is currently a doctor in London, Ontario.

Robin Sadler was drafted 9th overall in 1975 by Montreal after scoring 93 points as a defenseman with the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings. He would attend one week of training camp before he decided he didn't want to play pro, saying there was too much pressure. He returned his signing bonus and went home to North Vancouver. By 1976 he would try once again, this time in Sweden with Vastra Frolunda. The next off season he signed with the WHA Oilers only to run into the same issues in training camp that he dealt with previously. He would contact Montreal in Feb. 1978 to express interest in returning and played 9 games with Nova Scotia of the AHL scoring 6 points. Once again, he quit the team near the end of that season. He would return to Europe in 1979 playing in Austria and Holland through most of the 1980’s, scoring at over a point per game pace. Sadler would actually play for Austria in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. He is currently a real estate agent in North Vancouver, B.C.
Four names from hockey's past that may or may not have panned out into stars. One can only assume they made the right decisions and wonder what might have been.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I new Tom When I was very young. Had a very big crush on him. Thought he was a ladies man and Boy was I wrong.

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