Thursday, January 6, 2011

Doug Sulliman

One of the greatest lines in the history of hockey came out of the WHA and the city of Winnipeg. Bobby Hull joined European imports Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg on hockey's most exciting line of the 1970s.

Nilsson and Hedberg jumped to the NHL's New York Rangers by the end of the decade. To begin the 1979-80 season, who did they start playing along side? A rookie named Doug Sulliman.

Hopefully nobody actually expected Sulliman to be the next Bobby Hull. History tells us he was not even close. He survived in the NHL as a decidedly average player in almost every regard other than skating speed. He would develop into a 20 goal scorer in the high scoring 80s. A versatile winger who could move around the line up, he could play a third line checking role or moving up to a secondary offensive role.
 After two disappointing seasons in New York the Rangers traded Sulliman as part of a package to acquire Mike Rogers. Although his best statisical season (29 goals and 69 points in 1981-82) came in Hartford, most of Sulliman's best years came with the New Jersey Devils. After a 27 goal, 53 point season in 1986-87 he was honoured as the team's Players’ MVP, Fan Club MVP, Good Guy Award, and was the team’s nominee for the NHL's Masterton Trophy.

Playing on some rather weak teams allowed Sulliman to assume a more offensive role than he probably should have. Sulliman played 631 career NHL games, scoring 160 goals and 168 assists for 328 points.


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