Willie Huber

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For the Swiss soccer goalkeeper, see Willy Huber.
Willie Huber
Born (1958-01-15)January 15, 1958
Straßkirchen, West Germany
Died June 28, 2010(2010-06-28) (aged 52)
Hamilton, ON, CAN
Height 6 ft 5 in (196 cm)
Weight 225 lb (102 kg; 16 st 1 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Right
Played for Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers
Vancouver Canucks
Philadelphia Flyers
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 9th overall, 1978
Detroit Red Wings
Playing career 1978–1988

Wilhelm Heinrich Huber (January 15, 1958 – June 28, 2010) was a professional ice hockey defenceman who spent ten years in the National Hockey League (NHL), primarily with the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. Born in West Germany, Huber's family moved to Hamilton, Ontario when he was an infant. He represented Canada in international competition. When he joined the NHL in 1978, he was the largest player (6'5", 225 lbs.) in league history.

Playing career[edit]

Huber was drafted in the first round (9th overall) in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft by the Detroit Red Wings after a decorated junior career. He won the Memorial Cup with the Hamilton Fincups in 1976, and represented Canada at the 1977 and 1978 World Junior Championships. A rare blend of size and skill, Huber stepped directly into the Wings' lineup the following season, notching 31 points and being named the team's Rookie of the Year.

For most of his career (until the arrival of Kjell Samuelsson in 1986) Huber was the largest player in the NHL at 6'5" and 228 lbs, towering over most other players in the league. Despite his size, however, Huber was primarily an offensive defender. Blessed with exceptional hands and skating ability, Huber was amongst the league's highest goal-scoring defenders in the early 1980s, and a fixture on the Detroit powerplay. While he was also solid in his own zone, fans often - unfairly - expected him to be a nasty physical presence, which did not come as naturally to him.

Huber scored at least 14 goals and 40 points for Detroit every season between 1979 and 1983, and was one of the team's top players during a comparatively lackluster period of Red Wing history. Huber and Reed Larson formed one of the more dangerous blueline power play combinations in the league during this period. He was chosen to represent Canada at the 1981 World Championships, and helped the team to a 4th-place finish. In 1983, he was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game.

Following a contract dispute with the Red Wings, Huber was dealt to the New York Rangers in the summer of 1983. He picked up where he left off offensively, but tore ligaments in his left knee mid-way through the season and was limited to 23 points in just 42 games. The following season, he tore ligaments in his right knee. As a result, his once-excellent mobility declined considerably, as did his offensive production. By 1985–86, he scored only 15 points in 70 games. He bounced back to score 30 points in 1986–87, but was traded to the Vancouver Canucks early in 1987–88. After a short, disappointing stint in Vancouver, he was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline, where he experienced a surprise resurgence with 13 points in 10 games.

However, following the season Philadelphia wanted him to take a paycut, and after a resulting season-long holdout he retired in 1989. He finished his 10-year career with 104 goals and 321 points in 655 career games, along with 950 penalty minutes.

Following his days in hockey, he chose to remain near the game, working at Copps Coliseum, Hamilton Place, and the Hamilton Convention Centre, in facility and event operations.

Death[edit]

Willie Huber died on June 28, 2010 in Hamilton, Ontario of a heart attack at age 52.[1] He was one of five children to Sonia and Henry Huber; he had three brothers: Gord, Rick and Tom, and a sister, Laura. He was married to Dawn and had a step-daughter, Brittany.[2]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1975–76 Hamilton Fincups OMJHL 58 2 8 10 64 14 2 11 13 28
1976–77 St. Catharines Fincups OMJHL 36 10 24 34 111 10 2 4 6 29
1977–78 Hamilton Fincups OMJHL 61 12 45 57 168 20 6 12 18 45
1978–79 Detroit Red Wings NHL 68 7 24 31 114
1978–79 Kansas City Red Wings CHL 10 2 7 9 12
1979–80 Detroit Red Wings NHL 76 17 23 40 164
1979–80 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 4 1 3 4 2
1980–81 Detroit Red Wings NHL 80 15 34 49 130
1981–82 Detroit Red Wings NHL 74 15 30 45 98
1982–83 Detroit Red Wings NHL 74 14 29 43 106
1983–84 New York Rangers NHL 42 9 14 23 60 4 1 1 2 9
1984–85 New York Rangers NHL 49 3 11 14 55 2 1 0 1 2
1985–86 New York Rangers NHL 70 7 8 15 85 16 3 2 5 16
1986–87 New York Rangers NHL 66 8 22 30 68 6 0 2 2 6
1987–88 New York Rangers NHL 11 1 3 4 14
1987–88 Vancouver Canucks NHL 35 4 10 14 40
1987–88 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 10 4 9 13 16 5 0 0 0 2
NHL totals 655 104 217 321 950 33 5 5 10 35

International[edit]


Year Team Event   GP G A P PIM
1977 Canada WJC 7 1 2 3 13
1978 Canada WJC 6 0 2 2 2
1981 Canada WC 7 0 2 2 10
Junior int'l totals 13 1 4 5 15
Senior int'l totals 7 0 2 2 10

All-Star Games[edit]


Year Location   G A P
1983 Uniondale 0 0 0
All-Star totals 0 0 0
  • All stats taken from NHL.com[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Report: Willie Huber dead at 52". NHL.com. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Willie Huber Obituary". lifenews.ca. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2013-07-23. 
  3. ^ NHL.com (2009). "Willie Huber's NHL Profile". NHL.com. Retrieved 2009-05-26. [dead link]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Dale McCourt
Detroit Red Wings first round draft pick
1978
Succeeded by
Mike Foligno