Vic Hadfield

In the 1960's the New York Rangers were a small speedy team who were often beaten up by their counterparts. They scouted for big aggressive players to remedy their shortcomings. The best of their finds was Vic Hadfield.

Hadfield came to the Rangers as a Blackhawk's prospect who earned that status due to his abrasive physical pursuits of the enemy. He wasn't known for his finesse, but soon would blossom into a fine scorer, too.

Hadfield idolized Ted Lindsay as a boy, and his style was very similar. In his first year he battled names like Bobby Baun, Tim Horton and Terrible Teddy Green. In his first complete NHL season he led the league in penalty minutes with 151 and even chipped in 25 points.

His playing time increased as he learned to pick his spots when displaying his toughness. He then became much more effective all-around player and a goal scoring threat. In fact he would score 20 or more 8 consecutive years and in 1971-72 he became the first Ranger to score 50 times in a single season. He also added 56 assists to earn a spot on the All Star Team.

That 1971-72 season was even more memorable for Hadfield as he was a big reason why the Rangers returned to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 22 years. Ultimately the Rangers, who were missing Jean Ratelle for much of the post-season, were outmatched by Boston and did not win that elusive Stanley Cup, but Hadfield had a great spring. He, along with Rod Gilbert, led the way with 7 goals. Only Bobby Rousseau had more points by a Ranger that spring, 17 compared to Hadfield's 16.

Hadfield is best remembered as the power-forward on the GAG Line ( goal-a-game line) with Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert. Ratelle and Gilbert played an elegant, beautiful game of puck possession and skill while Hadfield's contradictory style complimented them so well. He may not have been the best of the three, but he made that line work.

Hadfield's great leadership abilities were recognized when he became captain of the Rangers in 1971. He often set the tone for the team, both on the ice and off of it. On the ice he led by example. Off the ice he was quite the clown, always keeping the guys light and entertained. Sometimes that would spill on to the ice too, like the night he threw Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Bernie Parent's mask into the Madison Square Gardens crowd.

Hadfield was also part of the 1972 edition of Team Canada, an experience that almost ruined his reputation.

An unhappy Hadfield was only used sparingly in 2 of the first 4 games in Canada, and upon arrival in Moscow he was one of several players who were told he would probably not be dressing for the remaining games. An upset and outspoken Hadfield, who had just come off his 50 goal season, was angry and packed his bags and went home.

Team Canada management, specifically Harry Sinden and Alan Eagleson, were not amused and painted Hadfield to be the bad guy to the media, which made it easy for Canadian fans to be unforgiving and less than sympathetic. He was painted as a selfish brat and a poor teammate. Though his Team Canada teammates were not critical of him, his reputation was forever tarnished.

Hadfield would continue on with the Rangers until 1974 when he joined the expansion Pittsburgh Penguins. Hadfield would put in two more seasons, appearing in his 1000th game and returning to the 30 goal mark each season.

All in all, Vic Hadfield played in 1002 games, scoring 323 goals, 389 assists and 712 points. In retirement he would open up the Vic Hadfield Golf and Learning Center.


Anonymous,  11:26 AM  

Wouldn't it be great if Bernie Parent was on the Leafs when that happened. Oh wait ... he was!

Anonymous,  9:14 PM  

Was in MSG for Hadfields 50th goal.Had the first 4 seats to the left of the goal judge, I was 12. The Garden went mad, and the hats flew. Then lost to Kenny Dryden and his Habs. Great day with my Dad,always was! The original #11 Ranger capt.

Anonymous,  8:15 AM  

Has always been my favorite New York Ranger .I had Season tickets for fifteen years with my dad and was there for his 50TH. Great team leader , great guy and always loved watching him play .

Anonymous,  8:10 AM  

Hadfield always my favorite player. I had season tickets when he got NO. 50 against the Habs and when he broke his hand on Rosie Paimonts head. It's to bad there is no one like that on the current team

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP