|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1988|
Park in the 1970s
July 6, 1948 |
Toronto, ON, CAN
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)|
|Played for||New York Rangers
Detroit Red Wings
|NHL Draft||2nd overall, 1966
New York Rangers
Douglas Bradford Park (born July 6, 1948) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey player. A defenceman, Park played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Considered one of the best defencemen of his generation, and named to the all-star team several times, the best years of his career were overshadowed by superstar Bobby Orr, whom he would briefly play with. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Park was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round (second overall) in the 1966 NHL Amateur Draft and, after a brief stint with the minor-league Buffalo Bisons of the AHL, began playing for the Rangers in 1968.
New York Rangers
Park quickly became the Rangers' best defenceman and drew comparisons with the great Bobby Orr, as both were credited with revolutionizing the "offensive" defenceman. Park's offensive skill, stickhandling and pugnacity attracted much attention from fans. Park and Orr occasionally fought each other on ice, and fans and sportswriters fueled the rivalry by making frequent comparisons, not least as the Rangers and Boston Bruins were bitter opponents. Years afterward, Park remarked "I saw no reason to be upset because I was rated second to Bobby Orr. After all, Orr not only was the top defenceman in the game but he was considered the best player ever to put on a pair of skates. There was nothing insulting about being rated number two to such a super superstar."
Park was made the alternate captain of the Rangers and briefly served as their captain. In 1972, despite the loss of leading team scorer Jean Ratelle with a broken ankle, Park led his team to defeat the defending champions Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. The Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup finals where they lost to Orr and the Boston Bruins, and Park finished runner-up for the Norris Trophy. When the upstart World Hockey Association tried to lure Park away, the Rangers re-signed him to a $200,000-a-year contract that made him, briefly, the highest-paid player in the NHL.
In the 1972 Summit Series, with Orr unable to play due to injury, Park emerged as a key contributor to Team Canada's series over the Soviets, being named the MVP of the deciding Game Eight and named Best Defenceman of the series.
In 1975–76, the Rangers got off to their worst start in ten years and the team began getting rid of their high-priced veterans. On November 7, 1975, one of the biggest trades of the era was made. Park, star centre Jean Ratelle and defenceman Joe Zanussi were traded to Boston for superstar scoring champion Phil Esposito and defenceman Carol Vadnais. The New York press and public had felt that Park, 27 at the time, was overweight, overpaid, and over the hill, as he was facing unfavourable comparisons to the New York Islanders' Denis Potvin.
While Esposito and Vadnais remained effective players for the Rangers, the team remained mired at the bottom of the division after "the trade", and Rangers general manager Emile Francis was eventually fired. Contrary to expectations that the Rangers had gotten the better end of the trade, the struggling Bruins were instantly rejuvenated and soon again became one of the NHL's best teams, despite the departures of Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr.
Taking over the mantle of leadership from Orr, whose career was threatened by injury and who would soon leave the team, Park continued his great success under coach Don Cherry. Park had previously been an end-to-end rushing player attempting to imitate Orr, but with the Bruins he was told by Cherry to concentrate on defence. Getting over his unpopularity in Boston when he was a member of the arch-rival Rangers, Park settled in well with the Bruins, even hitch-hiking a ride from two teenagers at 1 am after his car ran out of gas, and Park later rewarded them with free tickets to the next Boston home game.
From 1977-79, Cherry's "Lunch Pail A.C." captured three division titles for the Bruins. Park earned two First All-Star Team selections, while coming in second in the Norris Trophy race twice in a Bruins' uniform, with 1977-78 being considered one of his finest seasons. In 1977 and 1978, Park was a key contributor to Boston's back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to the Montreal Canadiens both times. His last highlight with Boston came in Game 7 of the Patrick Division finals against the Buffalo Sabres in the 1983 playoffs, when Park scored the game-winning goal in overtime and help Boston advance in to the conference finals — Park's career overlapped with the first four years of the emerging superstar defenceman of the Bruins, Raymond Bourque, from 1979 to 1983.
Detroit Red Wings
The following season Park signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent and won the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance that same year, having set a record for assists by a Red Wings' defenceman. After the 1985 season, still an effective player but hobbled by repeated knee injuries, he announced his retirement. The next year he briefly served as Detroit's coach.
Retirement and personal life
Park has resided on the North Shore of Massachusetts and on Sebago Lake in Maine for almost 30 years, with his wife Gerry. He has five children and six grandchildren. His autobiography, Straight Shooter: The Brad Park Story, was published in August, 2012.
Honors and achievements
- Named to the First All-Star Team in 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1978.
- Named to the Second All-Star Team in 1971 and 1973.
- Runner up in Norris Trophy voting in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1978
- Received both the most First Team All-Star nominations (other than Earl Seibert, who retired before the trophy was awarded) and was runner-up for the Norris more times without winning the Norris than any other defenceman in NHL history.
- Played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978.
- The book 'Play the Man' (Dodd, Mead, & Co.) written by Brad Park and Stan Fischler was published in 1971.
- Retired as the leading defence scorer in Rangers' history and the second leading defence scorer in Bruins' history to Bobby Orr.
- At the time of his retirement, had played the most seasons in league history for a player never missing the playoffs.
- Currently 13th all-time in NHL history in defence scoring.
- Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, in his first year of eligibility.
- Along with Butch Goring, one of the last two active players who had played in the 1960s.
- In 1998, he was ranked number 49 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
- Ranked No. 11 on the all-time list of New York Rangers in the book 100 Ranger Greats (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
Regular season and playoffs
|1968–69||New York Rangers||NHL||54||3||23||26||70||4||0||2||2||7|
|1969–70||New York Rangers||NHL||60||11||26||37||98||5||1||2||3||11|
|1970–71||New York Rangers||NHL||68||7||37||44||114||13||0||4||4||42|
|1971–72||New York Rangers||NHL||75||24||49||73||130||16||4||7||11||21|
|1972–73||New York Rangers||NHL||52||10||43||53||51||10||2||5||7||8|
|1973–74||New York Rangers||NHL||78||25||57||82||148||13||4||8||12||38|
|1974–75||New York Rangers||NHL||65||13||44||57||104||3||1||4||5||2|
|1975–76||New York Rangers||NHL||13||2||4||6||23||—||—||—||—||—|
|1983–84||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||80||5||53||58||85||3||0||3||3||0|
|1984–85||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||67||13||30||43||53||3||0||0||0||11|
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|Detroit Red Wings||1985–86||45||9||34||2||(40)||5th in Norris||Missed playoffs|
- List of members of the Hockey Hall of Fame
- List of NHL players with 1000 games played
- Captain (ice hockey)
- Brad Park's biography at Legends of Hockey
- Brad Park's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
|Awards and achievements|
|New York Rangers first round draft pick
|Bill Masterton Trophy winner
|New York Rangers captain
|Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings