Charlie Huddy—Solid "D"
Reading Charlie Huddy’s plus/minus
statistics through the Oilers’ glory years are like
reading out some awful golf scores. He finished +62 in 1982-83,
and +50 in both 1983-84 and 1984-85. Although he rarely
attracted headlines like fellow defencemen Paul
Coffey and Kevin
Lowe, Huddy was an integral part of
each of the Oilers’ five Stanley Cup championships.
Huddy began his pro-hockey career playing for the 1979 Houston Apollos; a
pro team many levels away from the National Hockey
League. At the time, Huddy believed he was far from realizing his NHL dream.
scouts who watched the Apollos were impressed by his
play, and the club signed Huddy in 1980. For two seasons, he split time between the Oilers and their farm team in Wichita, Kansas,
1982, he won a full-time job with the club. He rewarded the team’s
faith with a +62 plus/minus season; a
remarkable number for a man just entering the League.
Adding to his statistics that season, he also scored 20 goals and added 37 assists.
Although an accomplished player, no team drafted Huddy
into the NHL. By the time Huddy had completed his
first season with the Oilers, fans were no longer asking
“Who is this guy?” Instead, they wondered how 21 NHL clubs
passed over such a
promising defenceman in the draft.
While Huddy never repeated the
impressive numbers of his first season, he
was a force on the blue line until 1991; he was twice
selected the Oilers’ defenceman of the year and was
named the team’s unsung hero on two other occasions.
At the beginning of the 1991-92
season, Huddy joined his old Oilers teammate
Gretzky as a member of the Los Angeles Kings; Huddy was
part of the Kings team that went to the 1993 Stanley Cup
final, only to lose the series to the Montréal Canadiens.
In 1994-95, Huddy was sent to the Buffalo Sabres where
he remained for the rest of his NHL career, save for a
12-game stint with the St. Louis Blues in 1995-96. In 1996-97, the Sabres dispatched Huddy to their farm team
in Rochester. Instead of leaving the game, Huddy used
the demotion to ready his
coaching career. As the veteran on the team, Huddy
worked with the young Saber prospects, teaching them about strategies and
responsibilities needed in the NHL.
He later went on to coach the
Huntington Blizzard of the East Coast Hockey League,
before the New York Rangers hired him as their assistant
coach in 1998. In 2000, he returned to Edmonton as an