Thursday

John Gould

The Buffalo Sabres were correct when they thought John Gould could be an NHL player. Unfortunately for them, they never got to reap the rewards of their insight and investment.

John was a 5'11", 200 pound winger who went undrafted by the NHL after a solid career with the London Knights of the Ontario junior leagues. That didn't deter him though. He signed with the lowly Eastern Hockey League and the Charlotte Checkers, where he starred. The Sabres were impressed with what he had to offer at the minor league level, and offered him a contract. Supposedly they were looking to fill out their depth charts and never expected the kid from Beeton, Ontario to play with the Sabres.

John made a successful jump up to the top minor league - the American Hockey League with the Cincinnati Swords. That first year he even earned a 2 game call up, and scored his first NHL goal!

Coming off of an all star season, Gould had a great training camp in 1973 and made the Sabres. He got off to a great start once the season got under way, scoring 4 goals including 2 game-winners in the first 5 games. The he wrenched his knee and although he didn't miss a lot of time with the injury, he somehow lost his spot on a top line and received very little ice time. He never scored another goal in 30 games before he was traded.

Just after Christmas 1973, the Sabres went shopping for a physical defenseman and found one in Vancouver Canuck Jerry Korab. A deal had been arranged that would send Tracy Pratt to Canada's west coast, but the Sabres threw in Gould to seal the trade.

Gould got off to a less-than-impressive start with Vancouver, scoring 9 goals and 19 points in 45 games to finish the season, but he erupted in 1974-75. Seemingly out of nowhere he symbolically announced he had arrived in the National Hockey League when he scored 34 goals and 65 points, and then led the Canucks in playoff scoring.

And to prove that his breakout season was no fluke, he followed that up with a 32 goal and 59 point season in 1975-76.

Gould credited the Canucks coach at the time for his success.

"Phil Maloney was the coach and he was good for the team though we didn't do all that well. He treated everybody the same and was really a players' coach."

Playing in Vancouver always means lots of time on airplanes. It was particularly tough back in the 1970s, as Gould explains:

"It was a tough place to play because we were travelling all the time. The only distant place we had direct flights to was Toronto. Most of the time we had to fly to Seattle, only a 35-minute trip, but then sit around the airport for an hour and a half waiting for a connecting flight."

Twenty-five games into the 1976-77 season the Canucks traded Gould to Atlanta in order to acquire some depth. In two and one-half seasons in Atlanta, John never quite found his goal scoring touch, topping out at 19 in 1977-78, but remained a useful and versatile player.

The Buffalo Sabres reacquired John in 1979-80. He played in 52 games and scored 9 goals and 18 points but ended the year and his career back where his career began - in the Buffalo Sabres minor league system.

John, who had a brother Larry also appeared in the NHL, retired at the end of the 1979-80 season. He overcame long odds to make the NHL. He ended up playing 504 games in the NHL, scoring 131 goals and 269 points.

After hockey Gould returned home to Beeton and started racing standard-bred horses. At the suggestion of former NHLer Ray McKay, he joined Fundementals in Action, an organization started by Pat Stapleton, to help teach hockey to youngsters across Canada.

"I like the program and travelling to communities I've never been before," he said.

1 comments:

Fred Gieseler,  8:33 PM  

You need to add Bobby Gould (mentioned alongside Dale Hunter and Gaetan Duchesne)
and Ulf Dahlen (from Sweden) both of whome had long careers in the NHL.

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