Dennis Polonich

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Dennis Polonich
Born (1953-12-04) December 4, 1953 (age 63)
Foam Lake, SK, CAN
Height 5 ft 6 in (168 cm)
Weight 166 lb (75 kg; 11 st 12 lb)
Position Centre/right wing
Shot Right
Played for Detroit Red Wings
NHL Draft 118th overall, 1973
Detroit Red Wings
Playing career 1973–1987

Dennis Daniel "Polo" Polonich (born December 4, 1953) is a retired professional ice hockey centre who spent his entire NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. He was known as a troublemaker who would do anything (especially fighting) to disrupt the opposition. He was selected in the eighth round, 118th overall, by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft.

Playing career[edit]

Junior hockey[edit]

Polonich began noticing early on that he was not one of the big kids around the league. Standing only five feet, six inches, and while playing for the Flin Flon Bombers of the WCHL, Polonich decided he needed a way to get the attention of the pro scouts. He felt the easiest way to do this was by aggravating every single player on the other team while scoring some goals in between. Polonich started picking fights with players all over the league during the 1972–73 season and was known to never stop trash-talking. He racked up 222 penalty minutes to go along with 83 points that season but also accomplished what he first set out to do, impress the scouts. Polonich was drafted 118th by the Detroit Red Wings in 1973. However, the Wings wanted to see if Polonich could be as effective in a higher league. They decided to ship him to Britain to play a season with the London Lions. He impressed and was brought back for the 1974–75 season.

Professional hockey[edit]

In the 1974–75 season, the AHL had its first look at Polonich when he joined the Virginia Wings. He helped them reach the playoffs with 34 points while leading the team in penalty minutes and went on to be the top scorer in their short playoff appearance. Towards the end of the season, Polonich got the chance to play in his first NHL game. He joined the Red Wings for four games that season, ending with no goals, no assists, and no penalty minutes, but with a renewed sense of what he was playing for. After a quick stint with the Kalamazoo Wings of the IHL, Polonich became a full-time Red Wing in the 1975–76 NHL season. The Red Wings were retooling, adding toughness and grit to their roster after a few disappointing seasons and Polonich fit the bill. Although small, Polonich brought an instant force to the team and started wreaking havoc in the highest league in hockey. Polonich set a club record on March 24, 1976 by sitting out eight penalties – five minors, a major and a misconduct.[citation needed]

"If I had stayed out of the box a little more, I might have scored 20 or 25 goals, you have to have a mighty long stick to score from the penalty box."

In the 1976–77 season Polonich had a short tenure as captain of the Detroit Red Wings while Danny Grant was injured. He finished second on the team in scoring with 46 points and first on the team (second in the league behind Tiger Williams) in penalty minutes with 274. He would again lead the team in penalty minutes the following season.

On October 25, 1978, Polonich got under the skin of the Colorado Rockies' Wilf Paiement. In what has been termed[by whom?] as the worst-ever case of brutality in the NHL, Paiement smashed the diminutive Polonich across the face with his stick, leaving Polonich with a concussion, severe facial lacerations, and a broken nose requiring reconstructive surgery. Polonich sued, and was rewarded with a settlement of $850,000 in 1982. Polonich suffered from breathing problems for the remainder of his career.

After five and a half seasons with the Red Wings, Polonich was sent down to the AHL after the 1980–81 season and, besides 11 games in 1982, would remain there. He helped the Adirondack Red Wings reach the playoffs twice in the following four years before jumping to the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL. Polonich retired in 1987.

Records[edit]

  • Red Wings club record: Sitting out eight penalties in one game - five minors, a major and a misconduct. (1976)

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1971–72 Flin Flon Bombers WCJHL 65 9 21 30 200 7 0 1 1 41
1972–73 Flin Flon Bombers WCJHL 68 26 48 74 222 9 1 5 6 38
1973–74 London Lions Britain 67 17 43 60 57
1974–75 Detroit Red Wings NHL 4 0 0 0 0
1974–75 Virginia Wings AHL 60 14 20 34 194 5 0 2 2 30
1975–76 Detroit Red Wings NHL 57 11 12 23 302
1975–76 Kalamazoo Wings IHL 5 1 8 9 32
1976–77 Detroit Red Wings NHL 79 18 28 46 274
1977–78 Detroit Red Wings NHL 79 16 19 35 254 7 1 0 1 19
1978–79 Detroit Red Wings NHL 62 10 12 22 208
1979–80 Detroit Red Wings NHL 66 2 8 10 127
1980–81 Detroit Red Wings NHL 32 2 2 4 77
1980–81 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 40 16 13 29 99 14 9 5 14 95
1981–82 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 80 30 26 56 202 5 2 2 4 0
1982–83 Detroit Red Wings NHL 11 0 1 1 0
1982–83 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 61 18 22 40 128 6 2 2 4 10
1983–84 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 66 14 26 40 122
1984–85 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 53 18 17 35 133
1985–86 Muskegon Lumberjacks IHL 78 32 36 68 222 14 8 10 18 36
1986–87 Muskegon Lumberjacks IHL 22 2 9 11 24
NHL totals 390 59 82 141 1242 7 1 0 1 19
AHL totals 360 110 124 234 878 30 13 11 24 135

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Danny Grant
Detroit Red Wings captain
1976–77
Succeeded by
Danny Grant