Thursday

Steve Shutt

I must admit, I have always been guilty of believing Steve Shutt's success was largely due to the fact that he played on such a strong line with such a strong team.

Shutt grew up in the Toronto suburb of Willowdale, dreaming of Dave Keon and the Toronto Maple Leafs while playing on the backyard rink his father built for him.

He progressed rapidly through the ranks, and began playing junior hockey with the Toronto Marlboros in 1969. Before long he was playing on the hottest line in all of junior hockey. Shutt was the left winger for Billy Harris and Dave Gardner. Shutt had seasons of 70 and 63 goals and 123 and 112 points.

Harris would go first overall in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, while Shutt would go to Montreal with the 4th overall draft pick. It would not be long before Shutt found himself on another great line - The Dynasty Line in Montreal with Guy Lafleur on right wing and either Jacques Lemaire or Peter Mahovlich at center. Shutt once referred to the line as The Donut Line, because of the centers coming and going.

While Lafleur was the superstar and Lemaire or Mahovlich were the set up men, Shutt was a goal scorer, with a knack for finding loose pucks and for getting open. He would post 9 consecutive seasons of at least 30 goals, including 45, 49 and, in 1976-77, 60 to lead the entire National Hockey League.

That 60 goal season also set a long standing NHL record for most goals by a left winger in one NHL season. Luc Robitaille broke the record in 1993 with 63 goals, while Alexander Ovechkin notched 65 in 2007-08.

In junior hockey he may have been a one trick pony, but the Montreal Canadiens were sure to develop him into a complete player. After all, there was no way he could play on the top line with Guy Lafleur all those years had he not been able to contribute in every zone on the ice.

"Steve has a lovely touch in the goal area," said coach Scotty Bowman back in the 1970s. "He always did. That's why we drafted him from Toront juniors in 1972. He's a natural scorer."

"What he has done, in the years he's been with us, is develop the other parts of his game like checking, skating and passing, so that he's made himself into a well rounded player," Bowman proudly continued.

Shutt also proved to be a big game player, scoring 28 playoff goals during the Canadians 4 consecutive Stanley Cup victories to close out the 1970s.

In total Shutt was part of five Stanley Cup championship teams in Montreal. Three times he was named as an All Star on left wing, including a First Team nod in 1977. In his 12 year career, which ended with a stint in Los Angeles, he scored 424 goals and 817 points in 930 games. He added another 50 goals and 98 points in 99 Stanley Cup playoff games. His impressive resume landed him in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.

Still, I've always been guilty of assuming much of Shutt's success came from being on the big line with Lafleur. Perhaps he would have been just another pop-gun one-dimensional triggerman notching 30-35 goals a year had he played in Pittsburgh or Vancouver.

In an interview with the Hockey Hall of Fame, Shutt concedes timing played a big role in his career success.

"No doubt about it, you have to learn to be a winner. And Scotty Bowman really pushed players to be better than they ever thought they would be. It was the right combination at the right time. Not only did Scotty push us but our own teammates pushed us. Our practices were probably a lot harder than some of the games we played."

Steve Shutt was an integral part of the Montreal Canadiens 1970s dynasties.

1 comments:

Anonymous,  6:04 PM  

didn't Shutt also make up a line with Reagan Houle and Jacques Lemaire ?......

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