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FEATURE A mark of excellence: Oshawa’s Hall of Fame players

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LEFT: Bobby Orr, seen here at the 2010 NHL Winter Classic game, is considered perhaps the greatest hockey player ever, and also one of the greatest in Oshawa Generals history. MIDDLE: This memorial to Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay stood at Joe Louis Arena, the former home of the Detroit Red Wings. Lindsay was the first Generals alumni inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. RIGHT: Eric Lindros was seen as the future of hockey while playing for the Oshawa Generals in the early 1990s. Despite his career being cut significantly short by head injuries, Lindros was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2016.

The Oshawa Generals are one of the most storied franchises in the entire Ontario Hockey League.

Over the years, the Generals logo has been a mark of excellence and some of the greatest, and according to Don Cherry, the greatest players have donned the team jersey.

While quite a number of these General greats have had considerable success in the NHL, only a handful have reached the top echelon a professional player can attain – the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Gens have been stockpiling their roster with fresh talent, with a number of players ready to make the jump to the NHL within the next season or so.

It is possible that one of those players, just now teenagers and young adults, could be the next Oshawa General alumni to have their name enshrined along with the likes of Howe, Gretzky, and Messier.

Until then, these are the five men who wore General colours proudly during their junior career and went on to reach the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

 

Ted Lindsay (1944 Memorial Cup)

Lindsay’s inclusion in this list may be arguable as he only ever suited up for the Generals for seven games. But the impact he made in those seven games was quite memorable.

Lindsay had spent the majority of the 1943-44 season with the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, but joined Oshawa in their quest for the 1944 Memorial Cup.

In seven games during the Memorial Cup, Lindsay scored seven goals and added two assists for what is considered one of the greatest junior teams in the history of the country.

Lindsay would then move on to the NHL where he became one of the greatest players of the first half of the 20th century.

In 17 seasons, Lindsay scored 851 points (379 goals and 472 assists) in 1,068 games.

He played on what was called the “Production Line” with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel.

In the 1949-50 season, he won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer.

Lindsay wasn’t just an offensive player as his rough style of play earned him the nickname of “Terrible Ted.”

His contributions off the ice may be just as notable as his excellent play.

Lindsay was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the NHL Players’ Association.

In the late 1950s, Lindsay and other players attempted to unionize, and eventually sued the NHL, alleging a monopoly.

A court battle ensued and was later settled, and the modern-day NHLPA was eventually formed. The happenings were later depicted in the CBC movie ‘Net Worth’ in 1995.

Lindsay was added to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966, notably refusing to attend the male-only ceremony as he was unable to bring his wife and children. The rules were changed the following year.

 

Alex Delvecchio (1943-44)

The second Generals alumni to reach to the Hockey Hall of Fame was also a member of the Detroit Red Wings famed “Production Line.”

Delvecchio played for Oshawa during the 1950-51 season, and was an offensive juggernaut, scoring 121 points (49 goals and 72 assists) in only 54 games.

He later added 14 points in five playoff games before moving to the Detroit Red Wings for one game.

Aside from six AHL games in the 1951-52 season, Delvecchio was one of the top players in the NHL for a quarter of a century.

In 1,549 NHL games, Delvecchio garnered 1,281 points (456 goals and 825 assists), while playing every single minute of his career in a Detroit uniform.

After retiring in 1973, Delvecchio had two stints as the head coach and one as general manager of the Red Wings. In 1998, he was ranked 82nd on the Hockey News’ list of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time and was later also named as one of the 100 greatest NHL players.

 

Bobby Orr (1962-63 to 1965-66)

When a 14-year-old Bobby Orr joined the Generals in the Metro Junior A League in 1962, most people knew they were seeing perhaps the most talented hockey player in the history of the game even before he could legally drive a car.

Playing against players four to six years older than him, Orr immediately made his impact on the Generals and Canada’s game.

In 193 games as a General, Orr scored 108 goals and 173 assists for 281 points.

After his historic career as a General, Orr would move to the NHL’s Boston Bruins, and revolutionize the game in many ways.

Prior to joining the Bruins, Orr signed a contract that made him the highest paid player in the NHL. It was unheard of at the time for someone to become the highest paid player before even playing a single game.

However, it was quite obvious he was worth every penny, as Orr made an impact from the moment he stepped on the ice.

As the 1970s dawned, Orr was destroying scoring records in the NHL on a yearly basis, having six consecutive 100 point seasons between 1969 and 1975.

He set the record for most points in a season by a defenseman in the 1970-71 season with 139, a record that still stands today.

In fact, that year he became the only d-man ever to notch 100 assists in a year, while also setting a record for plus-minus at +124.

In one of the greatest tragedies in the history of hockey, knee problems left Orr a shell of his former self, and between 1975 and 1979, he would only play 36 games in the NHL, completely missing the 1977-78 season.

Orr also began having contractual issues with the Bruins, and eventually signed a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, but retired shortly after.

Despite his career being cut short at 31 years of age, Orr’s standing and long lasting impact on the game were apparent when the Hockey Hall of Fame waived the normal three-year waiting period, and he was inducted in 1979, becoming the youngest player to ever be inducted at the time.

Despite an NHL career of only 657 games, Orr’s name is always included in discussions of the greatest hockey player ever.

 

Eric Lindros (1989-90 to 1991-92)

Like Orr before him, Lindros’ is another player who many hockey fans ask “what if?”

When he joined the Generals in 1989, Lindros was pegged as the next big thing in hockey, and the player expected to become the face of the NHL after Wayne Gretzky.

Lindros didn’t disappoint, scoring 36 points in his first 25 OHL games, and matching that in the 1989-90 playoffs, helping to eventually lead Oshawa to a victory in the Memorial Cup.

The next year was even more impressive as Lindros scored 149 points for the Generals.

After leaving the Gens, Lindros would soon become immersed in controversy after he stated he would not play for the Quebec Nordiques, the team which selected him first overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.

This earned Lindros some criticism, but a year later, the situation came to a close as he was sent to the Philadelphia Flyers in a historic trade that saw Quebec receive five NHL players, the rights to future Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg, three first-round draft picks and $15 million cash.

The unprecedented trade showed just how highly Lindros was sought after at the time.

The pressure was obviously high on Lindros as he began his career and he did not disappoint, becoming a point-a-game player for the Flyers and leading them to the Stanley Cup finals in 1997.

However, in 1998, Lindros suffered a concussion, beginning a chain of head injuries, which would eventually plague him for the rest of his career.

After a public feud with Flyers GM Bob Clarke and sitting out the entire 2000-01 season, Lindros was traded to the New York Rangers, where he played until 2003.

After suffering his eighth concussion, Lindros did not play again until 2005 when he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he ended up only playing a total of 33 games for Toronto, before retiring after a season with Dallas in 2006-07.

Despite the injury problems, Lindros still amassed 865 points (372 goals and 493 assists) in 760 NHL games and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2016.

 

Dave Andreychuk (1980-81 to 1982-83)

In his two-and-a-half seasons with the Generals, Andreychuk scored 87 goals in a mere 148 games.

During the 1982-83 season, his performance with Oshawa was so impressive he was called up to the Buffalo Sabres and never looked back.

Over his 23 year career in the NHL, Andreychuk was the perfect example of consistency, racking up 19 seasons with 20 or more goals, eight with 30 or more goals, three with 40 or more goals, and a career-high with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 53.

Andreychuk is 14th overall with 640 goals, and holds the record for the most power play goals in history with 274.

It is arguable that the left winger may have been one of the most underrated players in the history of the NHL as he only played in two all-star games in his entire career.

Playing in the small market of Buffalo may have put Andreychuk under the radar for the first half of his career, but a trade to Toronto in 1992 put his name on the map.

Along with Doug Gilmour, Andreychuk was a driving force behind the Leafs reaching back-to-back Conference finals in 1992 and 1993.

Over his first year-and-a-half wearing the blue and white, he went on a historic goal-scoring run, putting up 78 goals in 114 games, including 25 in his first 31 games in Toronto.

After leaving Toronto, Andreychuk would play for Boston, Colorado, New Jersey, return to Buffalo and finish off his career in Tampa Bay where he earned the lone Stanley Cup of his career in 2004.

 

There have been many other General players who have had outstanding NHL careers, but have yet to reach the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Such names include Wayne Cashman, Jason Arnott, Rick Middleton, and Marc Savard.

John Tavares looks like a sure-fire Hall of Famer, but only time will tell.

It is possible that one of the players’ fans are currently cheering on at the Tribute Communities Centre could one day see their name alongside those of Lindsay, Delvecchio, Orr, Lindros, and Andreychuk.

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