|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1988|
Park in the 1970s
July 6, 1948|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)|
New York Rangers|
Detroit Red Wings
2nd overall, 1966|
New York Rangers
Douglas Bradford "Brad" Park (born July 6, 1948) is a Canadian retired professional ice hockey player. A defenceman, Park played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Considered one of the best defencemen of his generation, and named to the all-star team several times, the best years of his career were overshadowed by superstar Bobby Orr, who was briefly his teammate. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. In 2017 Park was named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.
As a youth, Park played in the 1960 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with the Scarboro Lions and 1965-1966 with the Toronto Westclairs and Toronto Marlboros (until 1968). He was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round (second overall) in the 1966 NHL Amateur Draft and, after a brief stint with the minor-league Buffalo Bisons of the AHL, began playing for the Rangers in 1968.
Park quickly became the Rangers' best defenceman and drew comparisons with the great Bobby Orr, as both were cred with revolutionizing the "offensive" defenceman. Park's offensive skill, stickhandling and pugnacity attracted much attention from fans. Park and Orr occasionally fought each other on ice, and fans and sportswriters fueled the rivalry by making frequent comparisons, not least as the Rangers and Boston Bruins were bitter opponents. Years afterward, Park remarked "I saw no reason to be upset because I was rated second to Bobby Orr. After all, Orr not only was the top defenceman in the game but he was considered the best player ever to put on a pair of skates. There was nothing insulting about being rated number two to such a super superstar."
Park was made the alternate captain of the Rangers and briefly served as their captain. In 1972, despite the loss of leading team scorer Jean Ratelle with a broken ankle, Park led his team to defeat the defending champions Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. The Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup finals where they lost to Orr and the Boston Bruins, and Park finished runner-up for the Norris Trophy. When the upstart World Hockey Association tried to lure Park away, the Rangers re-signed him to a $200,000-a-year contract that made him, briefly, the highest-paid player in the NHL.
In the 1972 Summit Series, with Orr unable to play due to injury, Park emerged as a key contributor to Team Canada's series over the Soviets, being named the MVP of the deciding Game Eight and named Best Defenceman of the series.
After opening the 1975–76 season with its worst start in ten years, the Rangers began unloading its high-priced veterans. Park, along with Jean Ratelle and Joe Zanussi, was traded to the Boston Bruins in a November 7, 1975 blockbuster deal that also sent Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais to the Rangers. The New York press and public had felt that Park, 27 at the time, was overweight, overpaid and over the hill, as he was facing unfavourable comparisons to Denis Potvin.
While Esposito and Vadnais remained effective players for the Rangers, the team remained mired at the bottom of the division after "the trade", and Rangers general manager Emile Francis was eventually fired. Contrary to expectations that the Rangers had gotten the better end of the trade, the struggling Bruins were instantly rejuvenated and soon again became one of the NHL's best teams, despite the departures of Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr.
Taking over the mantle of leadership from Orr, whose career was threatened by injury and who would soon leave the team, Park continued his great success under coach Don Cherry. Park had previously been an end-to-end rushing player attempting to imitate Orr, but with the Bruins he was told by Cherry to concentrate on defence. Getting over his unpopularity in Boston when he was a member of the arch-rival Rangers, Park settled in well with the Bruins, even hitch-hiking a ride from two teenagers at 1 am after his car ran out of gas, and Park later rewarded them with free tickets to the next Boston home game.
From 1977-79, Cherry's "Lunch Pail A.C." captured three division titles for the Bruins. Park earned two First All-Star Team selections, while coming in second in the Norris Trophy race twice in a Bruins' uniform, with 1977-78 being considered one of his finest seasons. In 1977 and 1978, Park was a key contributor to Boston's back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to the Montreal Canadiens both times. His last highlight with Boston came in Game 7 of the Adams Division finals against the Buffalo Sabres in the 1983 playoffs, when Park scored the game-winning goal in overtime and help Boston advance in to the conference finals — Park's career overlapped with the first four years of the emerging superstar defenceman of the Bruins, Raymond Bourque, from 1979 to 1983.
The following season Park signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent and won the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance that same year, having set a record for assists by a Red Wings' defenceman. After the 1985 season, still an effective player but hobbled by repeated knee injuries, he announced his retirement. The next year, he briefly served as Detroit's coach.
Park has resided on the North Shore of Massachusetts and on Sebago Lake in Maine for almost 40 years, with his wife Gerry. He has five children and six grandchildren. His autobiography, Straight Shooter: The Brad Park Story, was published in August, 2012.
|1968–69||New York Rangers||NHL||54||3||23||26||70||4||0||2||2||7|
|1969–70||New York Rangers||NHL||60||11||26||37||98||5||1||2||3||11|
|1970–71||New York Rangers||NHL||68||7||37||44||114||13||0||4||4||42|
|1971–72||New York Rangers||NHL||75||24||49||73||130||16||4||7||11||21|
|1972–73||New York Rangers||NHL||52||10||43||53||51||10||2||5||7||8|
|1973–74||New York Rangers||NHL||78||25||57||82||148||13||4||8||12||38|
|1974–75||New York Rangers||NHL||65||13||44||57||104||3||1||4||5||2|
|1975–76||New York Rangers||NHL||13||2||4||6||23||—||—||—||—||—|
|1983–84||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||80||5||53||58||85||3||0||3||3||0|
|1984–85||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||67||13||30||43||53||3||0||0||0||11|
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|Detroit Red Wings||1985–86||45||9||34||2||(40)||5th in Norris||Missed playoffs|
|Awards and achievements|
| New York Rangers first round draft pick
| Bill Masterton Trophy winner
| New York Rangers captain
| Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings