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January 15, 1958|
Straßkirchen, West Germany
|Died||June 28, 2010
Hamilton, ON, CAN
|Height||6 ft 5 in (196 cm)|
|Weight||225 lb (102 kg; 16 st 1 lb)|
|Played for||Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers
|NHL Draft||9th overall, 1978
Detroit Red Wings
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.
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.
Willie Huber died on June 28, 2010 in Hamilton, Ontario of a heart attack at age 52. 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.
Regular season and playoffs
|1976–77||St. Catharines Fincups||OMJHL||36||10||24||34||111||10||2||4||6||29|
|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||—||—||—||—||—|
|Junior int'l totals||13||1||4||5||15|
|Senior int'l totals||7||0||2||2||10|
- All stats taken from NHL.com
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
- Willie Huber at hockeydraftcentral.com
|Detroit Red Wings first round draft pick