Friday, October 8, 2010

Oilers expect Sobchuk to be Super Star

That was one of the headlines of the Hockey News on Oct 27, 1978 (pictured below).
The irony of course is that less than one week later, the fellow pictured on that very same cover as a member of the Indianapolis Racers would be traded to Edmonton and become the true star they desired.

In the article, titled "Sobchuk's Future: An Oiler Super Star", Dennis Sobchuk
is lauded as the answer to the question "Why don't we ever get a super star in Edmonton?"
Having been aquired from Cincinnati late in the previous 1977/78 campaign, Sobchuk soon suffered a total shoulder seperation. He was limited to 13 games in the second half of the year and scored a mere 9 points. However at the age of only 25, hopes were still high for the one time junior phenom.
Oiler architect, Glen Sather is quoted in the article,"I know Dennis wants to play here, as long as I know that I'm willing to wait for him to get over whatever problems he has had." He continued, "He's a big talent....he can put his own personal stamp on a hockey game. He can intimidate another team just by being in the lineup". The article concludes with the comment, "Those are the things a superstar does."
Sobchuk would somewhat reward Sather for his patience as he ended up playing 74 games in 78/79 but would only notch 26 goals and 63 points. He was obviously overshadowed by the newcomer Gretzky and would never play for Edmonton again. With the WHA merger, he would be reclaimed by Philadelphia Flyers who had drafted his NHL rights in 1974. He was traded to Detroit before training camp of 1979 but his chronic shoulder problems kept him to 33 NHL games and only 10 points. Sobchuk said himself, "I had three shoulder seperations and the third time they removed about six inches of my clavicle." After two more partial seasons in the Central League and AHL, he signed with Quebec in March, 1982 only to play two games. Sobchuk's playing career was over by the age of 29.
Prior to his injury woes, Sobchuk was something of a junior prodigee. In three years with the Regina Pats, he had seasons of 123, 147 and 146 points. He was the first player to sign with a professional team before leaving major junior hockey, signing a ten year, million dollar deal with the Cincinnati Stingers. He led the Pats to a Memorial Cup in 1974 scoring 38 points in 19 playoff matches. Prior to coming to the Oilers in late 1977, he had WHA seasons of 77, 72 and 96 points and certainly was well on his way to super stardom.
The fates of injuries dictated otherwise.

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