Wednesday

Rick Chartraw

Every Canadian boy grows up dreaming of playing in the National Hockey League and hoisting the Stanley Cup above their head. However the vast majority of those Canadian kids never realize that dream.

In Venezuela, no one, with the exception of maybe the Canadian embassy workers, has ever heard of the Stanley Cup. So how is it possible that a kid from Caracas Venezuela make it to the NHL and hoist that magnificent trophy over his head 4 times?

During the 1950s the government of Venezuela embarked upon a rapid expansion and modernization restructuring plan. Foreigners were brought in to aid in the construction of the infrastructure. Rick Chartraw's father, an engineer, was among those recruited to move to the South American country.

The Chartraw family left he USA and spent 4 years in Caracas and gave birth to Rick. There was certainly no visions of hockey rinks when this kid was born!

After 4 years the Chartraws returned to the USA, finally settling in Erie Pennsylvania. It was here where Rick was introduced to the game of hockey.

"We lived kind of out in the country. There was a pond about a block from my house where a number of kids played hockey during the winter. I remember the first time I skated. I didn't know what to do, I'd never skated before. I was half a mile out and all the kids skated away from me. So it was either sit down and freeze to death, or learn how to skate to catch them. I learned how to skate real quickly!"

Rick took the game as quickly as he took to skating. Despite taking up the game later than many kids, Chartraw caught the eyes of junior scouts. By the time he was sixteen he moved to Kitchener Ontario where he played with the OHA's Rangers for three seasons.

Chartraw not only played well in Kitchener; he excelled. In his final year the 6'2" 200lb defenseman scored 17 goals and 61 points in 70 games while accumulating 150 PIMs. Scouts were drooling over his size, his toughness, his mobility and his scoring abilities. The Montreal Canadiens drafted the Venezuelan born Chartraw 10th overall in the 1974 entry draft. Chartraw was selected ahead of Bryan Trottier, Mark Howe, Danny Gare and Tiger Williams, among others.

It took Chartraw 3 years before he cracked that incredibly deep Montreal blue line. In fact it's a testament to Chartraw's skill level and determination that he managed to make the team at all. With a blue line consisting of three future Hall of Famers in Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard and Larry Robinson, as well as at different times future US Hall of Famer Bill Nyrop and youngsters such as John Van Boxmeer, Rod Langway and Brian Englbom, its hard to see how Chartraw saw any ice time at all..

At best he was a number 4 defenseman on this dynastic squad, but often was number 5 or 6. Sometimes he was even used on right wing! He was basically used in defensive situations, penalty killing and just for spotting the big three when they needed a break. His combination of size and strength and mobility made him a nice addition to the Habs. He never came close to fulfilling any offensive potential he had. His best year was in 1978-79 when he had 5 goals and 16 points. But then again no one playing behind Robinson, Savard and Lapointe would have gotten many points!

Chartraw may have been a bit player on the Habs teams of 1976 through 1980, but what a time to be a part of the team! The Habs won 4 consecutive Stanley Cups and is considered to be one of if not THE greatest team of all time..

The Canadiens traded Rick to Los Angeles in 1981. Rick was beginning to experience a serious back problem that would limit his ice time for the remainder of his 3 years in the NHL. He bounced from LA to New York to Edmonton before hanging up his skates to pursue other endeavors.

Rick's post-hockey career included the real estate business and owning a small Californian marina before becoming an arena consultant.

14 comments:

Anonymous,  6:59 PM  

Being the cousin of Rick Chartraw, I appreciate it when someone takes the time to write out some of his history, and to show he was a good player.

john 7:52 PM  

Chartraw saw more time on the right wing than as a defenseman. He alternated with Rejan Houle after Jim Roberts left and before Chris Nilan made the team.

john 7:54 PM  

Chartraw saw more time on the right wing than as a defenseman. He alternated with Rejan Houle after Jim Roberts left and before Chris Nilan made the team.

Chachi 11:21 AM  

I too am related to Ricky, and fondly remember following his career and success in my youth (albeit not when the Habs were in town at the Stadium playing my beloved Blackhawks)

I enjoyed learning about the standing ovation on the team bus following his GWG in 76 ...

Just also found an article on THN nominating him as the third best #10 pick ever

:)

melanie 2:46 PM  

hes my 2nd cousin and im so proud to say that i want to be just like him even though im a girl i do play hockey

Paul 8:25 PM  

As a youth hockey player in Erie, PA during Ricks transition to the minors from the Erie Lions club I have fond memories of briefly having him as a coach. He was a generous and down to earth person who even participated in our EYHA awards banquet. I hope he is faring well out there wherever he is.

Paul Schuler

Paul 8:28 PM  

As a youth hockey player in Erie, PA during Ricks transition to the minors from the Erie Lions club I have fond memories of briefly having him as a coach. He was a generous and down to earth person who even participated in our EYHA awards banquet. I hope he is faring well out there wherever he is.

Paul Schuler

Butoh_Carlos 11:43 PM  

Cool. I have two family members on here that I don't know who they are. Who are you Melanie and "Anonymous"? I'm Carlos. Second cousin of Rick, son of Carla Abler.

Anonymous,  9:10 AM  

I have known Rick for about 10 years, he owns a resort in BC, about 35 miles west of Golden BC. It`s called Kinbasket Lake,behind the first dam on the columbia river.One of the most human guys I ever met. Go see him ,you`ll love where he spends his summers.

Paul 3:16 PM  

I wonder if he would welcome communication from a former product of his coaching from 1969 EYHA lore. Up until a few years ago one of his former Lion team mates, Harry Dunn was still playing industrial league hockey with us in Erie. Thanks for the information. Maybe a pilgrammage to my distant youth is in the offing. If you are in touch with Rick, see if he remembers Paul Schuler, Pat Mackhelhenny and our odd slapshot windups. Thanks.....

Anonymous,  12:01 PM  

Ricks place in BC is sooo much fun. What a cool guy. Its just to bad he was a Hab lol. If you ever meet him ask him about his battles with my Flyers damn funny over a few whiskeys.

Paul Schuler 3:22 PM  

What is and where is this place in BC? We're planning a ski trip and to say hi to my old coach would be very, very cool.

Anonymous,  3:26 PM  

Chartraw was a real tough guy who could handle his dukes, but he seldom fought. Good defensive player and checker. He's also remembered as a character by many teammates.

Graham Clayton 3:09 AM  

After Chartraw was traded to the Kings, he gave his agent (Cookie Lazarus) his 1977 Stanley Cup ring as a thank you gift.

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