Rick Ley

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The Carolina Hurricanes have three officially-retired numbers - #10 (Francis), #2 (Wesley) and #9 (Gordie Howe).  #99 is unavailable due to a (mistaken, IMO) league decision and #3 is unassigned ever since the loss of Steve Chaisson.

It's number 2 that is of interest today, though, since it's actually the second time it has been retired.  The first time was for today's Leaf of the Day, Rick Ley.

Rick Ley was one of the new batch of Leaf defensemen that came up in the years following the last Cup win in 1967.  Most of the age on that team had been concentrated on the blue line and a good number of defensemen would make their debut over the few seasons as the Leafs tried to address it.  Jim Dorey, Mike Pelyk, Duane Rupp, Jim McKenny, Pat Quinn, Brad Selwood and others would all make their first appearances during these years.

Ley was one of the better ones.  Short, but built like a fire hydrant, Ley played an aggressive game and quickly established himself as one of the key blueline pieces for the Leafs.

As luck would have it, Ley did turn into a cornerstone defenseman - just not in Toronto.  I've made a lot of mention of the loss of Parent over the years, but the Leaf defense corps was completely shredded by the WHA, as well.  Dorey was traded for fear he'd jump (he did), Selwood left and so did Ley.  Pelyk would go a year or so later. 

Of the lot, Ley had the longest career.  He was still a factor in the late 1970s and is yet another player who might have helped the Neilson teams get over the hump.

Ley really thrived in the WHA.  He was part of the 1974 Summit Series and was a long-time captain in New England.  He was a two-time all-star and won the WHA equivalent of the Norris in 1979.  When the Whalers joined the NHL, the Leafs briefly reacquired his rights before Hartford re-drafted him.  He was their captain until he retired in 1981.  A franchise original, Hartford retired his number shortly after that.

The retirement lasted until the team moved, at which point numbers 2 and 18 (retired for John McKenzie) were put back into the mix.  Glen Wesley, also briefly a Leaf, wore it for years and it was retired again in his name.

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Rick the Leaf - via www.legendsofhockey.net

 

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Rick the Whaler - via www.whalershockey.com

 

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Rick the Leaf again - via www.legendsofhockey.net

 

OK - not a Leaf clip, but any chance to show WHA action:



Rick's stats:

 1964-65  Niagara Falls Flyers  OHA-Jr.  50   0   11   11   58   11   0   3   3   28 
 1964-65  Niagara Falls Flyers  M-Cup  8   0   2   2   8 
 1965-66  Niagara Falls Flyers  OHA-Jr.  46   3   13   16   180   6   0   6   6   18 
 1966-67  Niagara Falls Flyers  OHA-Jr.  48   10   27   37   128   12   2   4   6   24 
 1967-68  Niagara Falls Flyers  OHA-Jr.  53   16   48   64   81   19   1   15   16   38 
 1967-68  Niagara Falls Flyers  M-Cup  10   1   6   7   15 
 1968-69  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  38   1   11   12   39   +2   3   0   0   0   9 
 1968-69  Tulsa Oilers  CHL  19   0   5   5   23 
 1969-70  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  48   2   13   15   102   -16 
 1970-71  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  76   4   16   20   151   +11   6   0   2   2   4 
 1971-72  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  67   1   14   15   124  + 3   5   0   0   0   7 
 1972-73  New England Whalers  WHA  76   3   27   30   108   15   3   7   10   24 
 1973-74  New England Whalers  WHA  72   6   35   41   148   7   1   5   6   18 
 1974-75  Canada  Summit-74  7   0   0   0   16 
 1974-75  New England Whalers  WHA  62   6   36   42   50   6   1   1   2   32 
 1975-76  New England Whalers  WHA  67   8   30   38   78   17   1   4   5   49 
 1976-77  New England Whalers  WHA  55   2   21   23   102   5   0   4   4   4 
 1977-78  New England Whalers  WHA  73   3   41   44   95   14   1   8   9   4 
 1978-79  New England Whalers  WHA  73   7   20   27   135   9   0   4   4   11 
 1979-80  Hartford Whalers  NHL  65   4   16   20   92   +2 
 1980-81  Hartford Whalers  NHL  16   0   2   2   20   -13 
 1981-1983  Hartford Whalers  NHLMGNT
 1983-1984  Mohawk Valley Stars  ACHL
 1984-1988  Muskegon Lumberjacks  IHL
 1988-1989  Milwaukee Admirals  IHL
 1989-1991  Hartford Whalers  NHLMGNT
 1991-1994  Vancouver Canucks  NHLMGNT
 1994-1996  Vancouver Canucks  NHLMGNT
 1996-1998  Vancouver Canucks  NHLMGNT
 1998-2002  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHLMGNT
 Leaf Totals  229   8   54   62   416   0   14   0   2   2   20 
 NHL Totals  310   12   72   84   528   -11   14   0   2   2   20 
 WHA Totals  478   35   210   245   716   73   7   33   40   142 


OHA-Jr. First All-Star Team (1968)
WHA Second All-Star Team (1978)
WHA First All-Star Team (1979)
Dennis A. Murphy Trophy (Outstanding Defenseman - WHA) (1979)    

- Selected by New England (WHA) in 1972 WHA General Player Draft, February 12, 1972.
- Reclaimed by Toronto from Hartford prior to Expansion Draft, June 9, 1979.
- Claimed by Hartford from Toronto in Expansion Draft, June 13, 1979.



The HHOF take on Rick:

Rugged defenceman Rick Ley spent six years in the NHL. He was also one of a small group of players that was around for all seven seasons of the WHA.

Ley played junior with the Niagara Falls Flyers where he was one of the league's top point men. He was chosen 16th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 1966 Amateur Draft and returned to junior. After scoring 64 points in 53 games for the Flyers in 1967-68, the talented youngster was named to the league's first all-star team.

The scrappy rookie played well for Toronto in 1968-69 and was a regular through the 1971-72 season. He rushed the puck well and played an abrasive style in his own end. In 1972 he was one of the first players lost by Toronto to the rival WHA.

Ley spent seven years in the league with the New England Whalers and was a member of the first WHA championship team in 1973. He was picked to take part in the 1974 Summit Series versus the USSR and was named to the WHA first and second all-star teams once each. After scoring 27 points and playing well at both ends of the ice, Ley won the Dennis A. Murphy trophy as the top defenceman in the WHA. He returned to the NHL with the Hartford Whalers after the leagues merged and played a regular shift in 65 games while serving as the club's captain. He retired after laying 16 games the next season.

After his playing days ended, Ley took an interest in coaching. Ley guided the IHL's Muskegeon Mohawks/Lumberjacks for five years in 1980s and won the Turner Cup in 1986. In 1988-89, he was hired to coach the Vancouver Canucks' top affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. Prior to the 1989-90 season, Ley was named head coach of the Hartford Whalers. His tenure lasted two years before he was replaced but he landed on his feet as the Vancouver Canucks' assistant coach in 1991. Ley served as the club's head coach starting with the lockout-shortened 1995 schedule. He was replaced the next year by Pat Quinn but continued to work in the organization as a scout until he was hired as an assistant by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1998.

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