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Ryane Clowe: following in the footsteps of successful Newfoundland-born players

Watching big Ryane Clowe the other night against the Leafs reminded me that there haven’t been that many Newfoundland-born NHL’ers over the years.

Harry Watson was a Hall-of-Famer from Newfoundland but he played well before my time in the 1920s. (Some of those following this site who are a bit ‘older’ may have some insight into his career.)

In the modern era, Daniel Cleary has probably been the most recognizable—and successful—NHL’er from that part of the country. He played a major role in Detroit very nearly winning two Cups in a row, after it looked for years as though his brilliant Junior career would never translate to success at the NHL level.

I wrote a while back about the first Newfoundland-born player I remember seeing play—Alex Faulkner. I mistakenly wrote at the time that Howie Meeker (who played with the Leafs in the 1940s and ‘50s and briefly coached Toronto) was from Newfoundland, but he was apparently a native of Ontario. I’d always heard Meeker speak about Newfoundland, and I wrongly assumed he was from there.

Regardless, I well remember Faulkner, who actually started his career with the Leafs in the very early ‘60s, and was a star of the 1963 playoffs for the Detroit Red Wings against the Leafs. Faulkner had a huge playoff performance against Chicago and Toronto, with 10 points in the playoffs, though the Leafs won the Cup that spring.

Faulkner was a steady presence for the Wings, so I’m not quite sure why he didn’t player longer in Detroit, given his playoff success.

A few years after Falkner left the NHL, I remember a Newfoundland-born defenseman by the name of Joe Lundrigan who spent some time with the Leafs—in the early 1970s if I’m not mistaken. He made the Leafs shortly after they lost some solid young players to the World Hockey Association.

Since then, I recall that defenseman Bob Gladney was a Leaf draft choice in the ‘80s, I think it was, though I don’t recall him playing with the Leafs. Of course, fellow Newfoundlander Harold Druken played briefly for the Leafs in the early 2000s after some time with Vancouver.

Two of the better-know players from Canada’s newest province were defensemen. Brad Brown, who was drafted in the first round in the mid-‘90s and played with the Habs early on and then a number of other NHL clubs, spent some time in the Leafs farm system toward the end of his career. Keith Brown was a 7th overall pick, leading to a stellar career as a solid defenseman with the Black Hawks in the 1980s and ‘90s, playing almost 900 NHL regular-season games.

Of course Michael Ryder, like Clowe in San Jose, is still playing in the NHL, though his status in Boston right now seems to be unclear. Terry Ryan was a high first- round choice of the Canadiens in the mid-1990s but never quite made it full-time in the NHL.

John Slaney was another first-round draft choice who played almost 300 games in the NHL, beginning with Washington. He also had a fine career in the AHL as a skilled offensive defenseman.

I’m sure I’m missing some Newfoundlanders who played in the league, and I invite readers to fill in the blanks.

Clowe seems to be having the biggest impact right now, on a strong San Jose team. But the player I remember most from Newfoundland, because I was young and it was a pretty big deal “back in the day”, is still the one-time (if briefly) Maple Leaf, Alex Faulkner.

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