Willi Plett

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Willi Plett
Born (1955-06-07) June 7, 1955 (age 62)
Asunción, Paraguay
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for Atlanta Flames
Calgary Flames
Minnesota North Stars
Boston Bruins
NHL Draft 80th overall, 1975
Atlanta Flames
Playing career 1975–1988

Willi Plett (born June 7, 1955) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey right winger who played 834 games in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Atlanta Flames, Calgary Flames, Minnesota North Stars and Boston Bruins. He was a fifth-round selection of the Atlanta Flames in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft, 80th overall. Plett was a member of the Tulsa Oilers' Adams Cup championship team in 1975–76 and won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1977 as the NHL's top rookie. He transferred with the Flames franchise to Calgary in 1980 and a 1982 trade sent him to Minnesota where he played five seasons. Plett retired in 1988 following one season in Boston.

Early life[edit]

Plett's parents, who had lived in the Soviet Union and then Germany, fled to South America to escape the Second World War. They settled in Asunción, Paraguay, where he was born on June 7, 1955.[1] His family moved to Canada one year later, settling in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.[2]

Plett first played organized hockey at the age of 12 and played junior hockey near his hometown.[1] He played three years in the St. Catharines Black Hawks system, but left the team midway through the 1974–75 Ontario Major Junior Hockey League season following a dispute with coach Hap Emms, joining the tier II Niagara Falls Flyers.[2] His playing style was comparable to a modern power forward, as Plett combined scoring ability with physical play and a willingness to fight.[1] The Atlanta Flames selected him with their fifth round selection, 80th overall, at the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft.[3]

Playing career[edit]

The Flames assigned Plett to their minor league affiliate, the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League (CHL), for the 1975–76 season where developed under the team's coach, and former NHL enforcer, Orland Kurtenbach.[4] He scored 30 goals in 73 games, added 163 penalty minutes, and helped the Oilers win the Adams Cup as CHL champions. Plett also made his NHL debut during the season, appearing in four games with the Flames.[5]

Plett was returned to Tulsa to begin the 1976–77 season where he scored 12 points in 14 games. He spent the majority of the campaign in Atlanta, appearing in 64 games with the Flames.[4] He scored 33 goals and 23 assists for the Flames, enough to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year.[6] He scored 22 goals in 1977–78 and 23 in 1978–79 and amassed nearly 400 penalty minutes over those two seasons as he established a reputation as an enforcer who could also score. Plett scored only 13 goals in 1979–80, but set a Flames' franchise record with 231 penalty minutes.[2]

Plett transferred with the franchise when it relocated to Canada to become the Calgary Flames in 1980–81.[4] Playing on the Flames' top line alongside Kent Nilsson and Guy Chouinard,[2] Plett enjoyed his greatest season statistically, setting career highs with 38 goals, 68 points and 239 penalty minutes. He established himself as a fan favourite in Calgary, and shared the team playoff scoring lead with Bob MacMillan with eight goals as the Flames reached the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.[5] His offensive production fell to 21 goals in 1981–82, a season in which Plett became an outspoken critic of head coach Al MacNeil. The Flames replaced MacNeil as coach following the season, but also chose to trade Plett in a June 7, 1982 trade. He was sent to the Minnesota North Stars in exchange for Steve Christoff and Bill Nyrop, both teams also exchanged draft picks.[7]

The NHL suspended Plett for eight games early in his first season with the North Stars after he was given a match penalty for slashing Detroit Red Wings goaltender Greg Stefan in the head.[8] He scored 25 goals on the season but he recorded 19 fewer points than the year before and his 170 penalty minutes was his lowest total since his rookie season.[4] He scored only 15 goals and 38 points in 1983–84 and quarreled with coach Bill Mahoney over playing time. Plett received more time after the two resolved their differences and he re-focused on the physical side of his game which had been lacking in the previous few seasons.[9] He finished the season with a career high 319 penalty minutes.[4] Plett was dogged by injuries in his following three seasons, missing time due to a groin injury and injuring his shoulders on several occasions.[10] His offensive production decreased each year, falling to 11 points by 1986–87.[4]

The North Stars traded Plett to the New York Rangers, in exchange for Pat Price, on September 7, 1987.[4] He never played a game for New York, however, as the Boston Bruins took him in the waiver draft prior to the season's start.[11] Plett appeared in 65 games for the Bruins in 1987–88, scoring two goals, five points and recording 170 penalty minutes. He appeared in 17 playoff games, scoring six points, as the Bruins reached the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Edmonton Oilers.[4] Plett retired following the season.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Plett returned to the Atlanta area following his retirement. He opened Willi Plett's Sports Park, now out of business, a golf course and theme park in Woodstock, Georgia.[1]

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1974–75 St. Catharines Black Hawks OMJHL 22 6 8 14 63
1975–76 Tulsa Oilers CHL 76 30 20 50 163 9 5 4 9 21
1975–76 Atlanta Flames NHL 4 0 0 0 0
1976–77 Tulsa Oilers CHL 14 8 4 12 68
1976–77 Atlanta Flames NHL 64 33 23 56 123 3 1 0 1 19
1977–78 Atlanta Flames NHL 78 22 21 43 171
1978–79 Atlanta Flames NHL 74 23 20 43 213 2 1 0 1 29
1979–80 Atlanta Flames NHL 76 13 19 32 231 4 1 0 1 15
1980–81 Calgary Flames NHL 78 38 30 68 239 15 8 4 12 89
1981–82 Calgary Flames NHL 78 21 36 57 288 3 1 2 3 39
1982–83 Minnesota North Stars NHL 71 25 14 39 170 9 1 3 4 38
1983–84 Minnesota North Stars NHL 73 15 23 38 316 16 6 2 8 51
1984–85 Minnesota North Stars NHL 47 14 14 28 157 9 3 6 9 67
1985–86 Minnesota North Stars NHL 59 10 7 17 231 5 0 1 1 45
1986–87 Minnesota North Stars NHL 67 6 5 11 263
1987–88 Boston Bruins NHL 65 2 3 5 170 17 2 4 6 74
NHL totals 834 222 215 437 2572 83 24 22 46 466

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Podnieks, Andrew (2003). Players: The ultimate A–Z guide of everyone who has ever played in the NHL. Toronto: Doubleday Canada. p. 682. ISBN 0-385-25999-9. 
  2. ^ a b c d Down, John (1980-11-16). "His attitude has changed". Flames Magazine. Calgary Flames Hockey Club: 33. 
  3. ^ Hanlon, Peter; Kelso, Sean, eds. (2007). 2007–08 Calgary Flames Media Guide. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 101. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Willi Plett profile". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  5. ^ a b Ornest, Leo, ed. (1981). 1981–82 Calgary Flames Fact Book. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 30. 
  6. ^ "Calder Memorial Trophy 1976–77". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  7. ^ Duhatschek, Eric (1982-06-08). "Happy birthday, Willi". Calgary Herald. p. B14. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  8. ^ "Plett out for eight". Regina Leader-Post. 1982-10-15. p. D4. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  9. ^ Duhatschek, Eric (1984-04-26). "'Obnoxious' Plett is back on track". Calgary Herald. p. C1. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  10. ^ "Willi Plett profile". Hockey Draft Central. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  11. ^ Sexton, Joe (1987-10-06). "Rangers' Plett on the move again". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  12. ^ Trust, Dick (1988-08-12). "Bruins interested in Nilan?". Lewiston Journal. p. B1. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bryan Trottier
Winner of the Calder Trophy
1977
Succeeded by
Mike Bossy