The Hockey Hall of Fame originated in Kingston, Ontario, in 1943 and moved to Toronto in 1958. There are three Minnesotans in the players category:
Frank (Mr. Zero) Brimsek, a goalie from Eveleth who was an NHL star before and after World War II; Frank (Moose) Goheen, from White Bear Lake and a legendary forward in the formative years of U.S. hockey from the 1910s to the 1930s; and Phil Housley, from South St. Paul and a high-scoring defenseman who played 21 NHL seasons from 1982 to 2003.
Brimsek’s career ended in 1950, and there wasn’t another U.S.-born and trained player to get a real NHL shot until Duluth’s Tommy Williams broke in with Boston in 1961.
The Canadians-only attitude for the six-team NHL was so strong that outstanding American players were ignored. Thus, when you state that Housley is Minnesota’s greatest hockey player, it’s advisable to add “of the NHL expansion era (1967-present),’’ since it’s hard to judge what a tremendous player such as John Mayasich might have done if he had gotten a true NHL opportunity in the 1950s.
Housley is now an assistant with the Arizona Coyotes and was in Phoenix last weekend when he heard about the death of Doug Woog. He returned a call and paid tribute to “The Wooger,’’ the coach who had put a freshman, Housley, on the South St. Paul varsity back in 1978-79.
Woog had played as a South St. Paul freshman two decades earlier, but it was a major upset to have a ninth-grader on those loaded Packers squads.
So was this: Housley played 22 games with 65 points for South St. Paul in 1981-82. He played 77 games with 66 points in 1982-83 with the Buffalo Sabres.
High school straight to the NHL — how does that happen?
“It would not have, without Doug Woog,’’ Housley said. “He spearheaded my development. He pushed me as a defenseman to be thinking offensive, creating things from your zone.
“I remember him standing there at the outdoor rinks, for peewee and bantam games. Didn’t say anything, but I felt like he was keeping an eye on me.’’
• Safety Antoine Winfield joined tailback Paul Giel (1953) and linemen Ed Widseth (1936), Clayton Tonnemaker (1949), Tom Brown (1960), Bobby Bell (1962) and Greg Eslinger (2005) as unanimous football All-Americas for Gophers.
• Premier Boxing Champions will have four cards at Minneapolis Armory in 2020.
• Winfield and Tyler Johnson (second round), Kamal Martin (fourth), Carter Coughlin (fifth) … that’s some excellent recruiting by Tracy Claeys.
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