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December 4, 1953 |
Foam Lake, SK, CAN
|Height||5 ft 6 in (168 cm)|
|Weight||166 lb (75 kg; 11 st 12 lb)|
|Played for||Detroit Red Wings|
|NHL Draft||118th overall, 1973
Detroit Red Wings
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.
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.
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.
"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.
- Red Wings club record: Sitting out eight penalties in one game - five minors, a major and a misconduct. (1976)
|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|
|1974–75||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||4||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|1975–76||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||57||11||12||23||302||—||—||—||—||—|
|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||—||—||—||—||—|
- Biographical information and career statistics from Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
- Dennis's Bio on Detroit Red Wings.com
|Detroit Red Wings captain