Sunday

Terry Harper

Terry Harper enjoyed a lengthy NHL career as an aggressive, stay-at-home defenseman. A willing though not always successful fighter, Harper played for 19 seasons with Montreal, Detroit, Colorado, and St. Louis before retiring in 1981.

Those who knew Terry from a young age were not surprised by his toughness. As a youngster he suffered serious third degree burns to his arms, chest, stomach and legs in a fire. The damage required 7 years of skin grafting. Terry used hockey as a motivating force to get through the pain. His doctors agreed to let him play hockey, thinking that the skating would help rebuild his leg muscles.

By 1957 Harper had joined the Regina Pats, a Montreal junior team, narrowly missing out on the Memorial Cup. Harper would turn pro in 1960.

Harper's got his first taste of NHL action in 1962-63. In his 3rd season of minor league hockey, Harper got the call when stalwart d-man Tom Johnson became injured. Harper filled in admirably in his 14 game appearance, supplying the same physical presence and defensive positioning that Johnson normally provided. Harper ended up finishing the year in Montreal. He participated in 5 playoff games and even scored a goal.

In 1963-64 Harper made the Habs on a full time basis, joining J.C. Tremblay, Jacques Laperriere and later Ted Harris on a revamped Habs' blue line.

The 6'1" 200lb defenseman quickly made a name for himself as a tough customer. Though he never was consider a true NHL heavyweight, there wasn't a thing he wouldn't do to help his team win. The defensive changing of the guard worked, even if it was more of a lunch-bucket crew than many great D-men groups in Montreal history. Montreal would quietly win 4 Stanley Cups by the end of the decade.

One of the interesting facts of Harper's career occured early in the season in 1963. Until that point, Maple Leaf Gardens had both teams share the penalty box. However Harper and Toronto forward Bob Pulford, who were sent to the box for an on-ice altercation, continued to mix it up in the sin-bin. The event led to the creation of two seperate penalty boxes at MLG within a week of the incident.

Harper, who wore #19, spent 10 seasons in Montreal. In that time he played in 4 NHL All Star games and won 5 Stanley Cups.

However in 1972 the Habs moved Harper to Los Angeles in exchange for a barrage of draft picks. Harper played 3 seasons on the west coast. In his final season with the Kings he was +38.

Despite his best statistical season to that point, Harper was moved to Detroit as part of the big trade that saw superstar Marcel Dionne land in Los Angeles. Harper would play 4 seasons for the Wings. His first season in the Motor City (1975-76) he set career highs with 8 goals and 33 points. However by the end of his 4 year tour with the Wings, Harper had clearly lost a step. He was 39 years old at the time and played 22 games of the season with the Wings farm team.

Harper appeared in two more seasons in the NHL (11 games in 1979-80 with St. Louis and 18 games in 1980-81 with Colorado) before retiring at the age of 41.

In his career, Harper played in 1066 games. He scored 35 goals and 221 assists in that time span for 256 points. He also added 1362 penalty minutes. The 5-time Cup champion battled in 112 playoff contests, scoring 4 goals and 17 points to go with his 140 PIMs.

5 comments:

Anonymous,  10:17 PM  

I am really fortunate to play hockey with Terry who still has his heart in the game at 72. Terry Plays defence for the Roseville Flyling Monkeys and can pick a puck off your stick and pass it to a forward before yourealize you lost it. What a lot of people don't know about Terry is he is a first class individual that goes out of his way to promote hockey and would give give you the shirt off his back if it wasn't soaked in sweat from playing the best game on the planet!

Bill willgress,  10:32 AM  

What a fantastic career. I played hockey with terry in Nanaimo, B.C.
Canada.. He and his family came to nanaimo in about 1955 or 56 his father was transfered here with the cpr.. I played one year with him in midget or juvenile ... he was a very nice guy well liked by everybody in high school... He had two brothers that were very good hockey players as well Mike and Brian. He was amazing always first to practice and the last to leave doing stops and starts for an hour after ....He left nanaimo and went to play with the regina pats It was a great experience playing with him...
A pleasure to know him....

Anonymous,  5:36 PM  

The epitome of a physical stay at home defenseman. Was a great captain in his stint in L.A. Loved the "Harper hat trick" which was 3 goals in a season.

Mike Craig,  2:57 PM  


I met Terry Harper when he came up to Whitehorse in the mid 60's. My dad interviewed him on TV. I was about 6 but remember him to this day. He gave me a team picture and picture of himself.

Steve T. 12:56 PM  

I met Terry in Roseville and remembered him as a nemesis of my Boston Bruin's when I grew up in Massachusetts. Played goal behind him in Snoopy Tournament practices where he dominated play despite skating slower than his prime. A great guy who loves the game and my "one degree' separation from the Cup!

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