Flashback to 1983…

With the news today that Ray Ferraro will be playing in the upcoming Winterhawks Alumni Golf Tournament, it gave me pause to reflect back on what happened during the summer of 1983….

Cue flashback music (think Wayne and Garth)…

It was the summer of 1983 and all was good in Winter Hawk (two words then) land.  The team had just successfully hosted the first ever Memorial Cup to be held outside of Canada, hoisting the treasured trophy over their head after an 8-3 thrashing of the Oshawa Generals at the Memorial Coliseum.

The team was loaded…Cam Neely, Rich Kromm, Ken Yaremchuk, Randy Heath, Alfie Turcotte and Brad Duggan all finished with at least 100 points.

But, the least known 90 point man on that team was none other than Ray Ferraro.  Ferraro spent a lot of that season hurt, but still posted 41-49-90 in just 50 games as a third line center.  Read that again….a third line center!!!

With the possibility that all of the centers – Yaremchuk, Kromm and Ferraro could return for the 1984-85 season, it gave Owner/GM Brian Shaw a chance to make a deal to try and secure the future once these guys graduated.

Back in the day before Internet, word of mouth and first hand reports were what teams relied on for player information.  The word was that the next great thing was Blaine Chrest from Estevan, SK.  Chrest was an up-and-coming phenom.  Shaw wanted Chrest badly and he paid a huge sum to get him.

Ferraro and four other players, including Duggan (a 100 point d-man) and Derek Laxdal, who went on to play some in the NHL, went to the Brandon Wheat Kings in exchange for Blaine Chrest.

Maybe this deal wouldn’t seem so bad if not for the fact that Ferraro went on to set a record that will never be broken, not in this day and age at least…he put up 108 goals in 72 games for Brandon in 1983-84.  Not a typo…108 goals to go with 84 assists for 192 points.  It still hurts to type that…

Chrest wasn’t a bad player, but just didn’t have the physical skills to be a dominant player in the WHL…his numbers don’t look half bad (62-103-165 in 156 games as a Hawk), but they pale in comparison to that one season for Ferraro.  Chrest wound up being dealt to Saskatoon three years later and honestly, I can’t remember what came back in return.

All I know is that it wasn’t Ray Ferraro…

Back to present day…

It is great the Ferraro will be in Portland to play in the golf tournament, as well as Jason McBain.  Ferraro has gone on to be one of the best hockey analysts in the business and his son, Landon, is a burgeoning star in the WHL with the Red Deer Rebels.  Heck, his wife is the great Cammi Granato, the first lady of USA Women’s Hockey…

I still think back and wonder if Ferraro would have put up anything close to 108 for Portland.  It turns out that he would have been the first line center as both Yaremchuk and Kromm moved onto the NHL as underage players in 1983-84 (as well as Neely and Turcotte).

The story is one of the most interesting in the history of the ‘Hawks and one that I will never forget…as it is the “one that got away” story…

Welcome back to the ‘Hawks fold, Ray…it’s great to have you back…

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