Monday, June 25, 2007

Mike Rogers

Mike Rogers, all 5'9" of him, was one of the more underrated players of the 1970s and 1980s

"He could do it all," says his former New England (WHA)/Hartford Whalers teammate Gordie Howe - a hockey expert if there ever was one. "He was quick as a cat and very strong for his size. And he could play all night!"

Another one of hockey's all time greats, Dave Keon, had this to say about Rogers: "Not many guys could skate better than Rogers." Keon, of course, is one of hockey's most effortless skaters himself.

The Calgary born Rogers was a junior standout with his hometown Calgary Centennials in the early 1970s. In his final season in the WCJHL, Mike scored an amazing 67 goals and 73 assists for 140 points in 66 games, often playing with Danny Gare on his wing. Yet his small size scared off NHL teams as the trend was for huge, monstrous physical players, as demonstrated in Philadelphia and Boston.

The Vancouver Canucks did draft Rogers 77th overall (in the 4th round). One would have to wonder how the Canucks fortunes might have changed had Rogers ever played with the Canucks. But he did not, as he opted to jump to the rival league, the WHA, where the Edmonton Oilers drafted him 61st overall in their draft.

"It wasn't a matter of money," Rogers said of his decision to go to the WHA. "The Canucks informed me they would send me to the minors and Edmonton told me that I was a big pick and that they intended to play me. I didn't want to go the minors so I signed with Edmonton."

Rogers stepped into the league right away and impressed, scoring 35 goals, 48 assists and 83 points. He also won the Paul Daneau Trophy as the WHA's most gentlemanly player after picking up only one minor penalty all season long!

In 1975-76 Mike got off to a slow start so the Oilers traded him to the New England Whalers. With the Whalers Rogers statistics never exceeded the 83 points of his rookie season, but he was a constant 25-30 goal, 70-80 point threat. He also developed into a good all around player as he played on a line with the great Gordie Howe and Gordie's skillfully talented son Mark.

When the WHA folded in 1979, the Vancouver Canucks didn't act on their right to claim Rogers, as they took the advice of coach Harry Neale that he was not good enough for the National League.

How wrong Harry was in this case!

Rogers stayed in New England with the now renamed Hartford Whalers. He erupted to a new scoring level once he arrived in the NHL. He is one of only 4 players (guys named Gretzky, Lemieux and Stastny are the others) who scored 100 points in his first 3 NHL seasons! He scored 44 goals and 105 points in 1979-80 and duplicated the 105 points in 1980-81 based on 40 goals and 65 assists!

The Whalers traded Mike to the New York Rangers in 1981-82 but he didn't slow down. He had a nice 38 goal, 65 assists for 103 points. Rogers would continue to be a solid offensive contributor for NYR the next three years, but his point totals tailed off to the 65 point range.

By 1985-86 Mike spent most of the year in the minors, although was acquired by the Edmonton Oilers and finished his career where it started, with 8 games in the Alberta capital.

Mike did play one more season of pro hockey after that, playing with HC Ambri-Piotta in Switzerland..

In total, Mike played in 484 NHL games and scored an impressive 202 goals, 317 assists and 519 points, while collecting just 184 PIM. He played in 17 playoff games, picking up 13 assists but scoring just once.

No comments:

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP