"You'll be a New York Ranger for a long time" is what Jim Dorey was told when he was acquired by the Rangers late in the 1971-72 season.
Dorey played just one game with the Rangers. It turned out to be his last game in the National Hockey League.
Dorey was picked up from Toronto, where the aggressive rearguard made some impressions with his rugged play over 4 NHL seasons. None other than the legendary Tim Horton had predicted big things for Dorey, which was one reason the Rangers acquired him in exchange for Pierre Jarry.
Unfortunately for Dorey, his season was ended in his first game with the Rangers, as he suffered a badly separated shoulder.
Dorey's contract was up that summer. One of the main reasons the Leafs gave him away was that they thought he would sign with the World Hockey Association. And that's is exactly what happened. Dorey jumped at an offer to join the upstart New England Whalers. The money he was offered was simply something he "couldn't refuse."
Shortly after, the Rangers other star players were being approached by WHA teams. Perhaps shocked by the loss of Dorey to the New England Whalers, the Rangers were forced to hand out huge contracts to players like Brad Park, Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert in order to keep their team in tact.
"By jumping to the WHA, I made a lot of Rangers wealthy men. After I left, the Ranger brass promptly signed all their players to huge contracts. And it was all because of me," Dorey recollects.
In 4 seasons in the National Hockey League, Dorey, nicknamed Flipper because of his tendency to flip the puck high over the heads of everyone in order to clear the zone, was known as a big lumbering defenseman who took many penalties. In fact in his rookie season he established a then-record 48 penalty minutes in one game en route to a 200 PIM season!
The WHA featured a much weaker collection of defensemen, which allowed Dorey to develop into more than just a physical spare part. He was named to the post season all star team in 1973, his first season in the Association, after scoring 7 goals and 63 points in 75 games. He also led all WHA scorers in assists in the playoffs with 16 in 15 games. Same goes for his 41 penalty minutes.
The following season Dorey played in 77 games with 6 goals and 46 points.
The Whalers moved Dorey back to the city where his major league career started part way through the 1974-75 season. The Whalers sent him to the Toronto Toros in order to complete an earlier transaction that saw New England acquire Wayne Carleton.
Dorey continued to play well with the Toros. He finished the year with a career high 16 goals plus 40 assists for 56 points and up that total in 1975-76 to 60 points based on 9 goals and 51 assists.
The Quebec Nordiques acquired the veteran for the 1976--77 season. He had a good first year in the provincial capital, scoring 13 goals and 47 points. However the following two years would not be as kind to Dorey. Injuries limited him to just 58 games in total, and just 1 goal and 12 points.
Despite a respectable career in the WHA, many people remember an ugly incident involving WHA tough guy Gordie Gallant.
"Gallant suckered Paul Baxter of our team and Gallant went to the penalty box to serve a major, two minors and a misconduct. The coach made it clear he expected me to do something about Gallant. It was the last time we'd be facing Birmingham because the league was about to fold. But what could I do? The guy would be in the penalty box for all but the last few moments of the game."
"So I led a four-man rush out of the Quebec zone, then stopped at center ice, right in front of the penalty box. I wheeled and sent a slap shot right at Gallant's head. He ducked and the puck struck a photographer standing behind him, knocking him flat."
The incident ended up in the land of the law. Dorey was fined $9,999.99 in small claims court.
But Dorey, described as an undisputed leader with a knack of annoying fans while on the road by Zander Hollander, won't be remembered for that. Instead he'll be remembered for his rock hard style of defense and his fine seasons in the World Hockey Association. He scored 52 times and added 232 helpers for 284 points in 431 WHA games, while adding 617 well earned PIMs. In the NHL he had 25 goals and 99 points in 232 games in addition to 553 minutes in the box.