Rick Wamsley

Drafted 58th overall in 1979 by the Montreal Canadiens, Rick Wamsley started his career with minor league Nova Scotia in the AHL. In 1980 the Canadiens called him up, still looking for a replacement for the Ken Dryden who retired a year earlier. Wamsley filled in solidly for 3 seasons. In 1981-82 he and Denis Herron shared the William Jennings trophy for allowing the fewest goals against in the entire league.

Wamsley, Herron, and for that matter Richard Sevigny all filled in nicely in Montreal, but the team was not keeping up with the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers in battles for Stanley Cups. A goaltending carousel would exist in Montreal until Patrick Roy arrived in 1986. Wamsley was moved to St. Louis in 1984.

Wamsley was happy with the move to St. Louis because of the team's association with goaltending legend Jacques Plante. Plante had helped Wamsley in Montreal and continued to do so with the Blues. Wamsley always credited Plante with helping achieve big league success.

Wamsley would spend 4 seasons with the Blues, splitting crease responsibilities mostly with Greg Millen.

Despite his solid play in St. Louis, Wamsley will always be remembered for his departure. Near the trading deadline in 1988, Wamsley and Rob Ramage were traded to Calgary in exchange for journeyman Steve Bozek and a young sniper named Brett Hull. Hull would go on to become one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history, but Wamsley and the Flames would the Stanley Cup in 1989.

Though he rarely played with starter Mike Vernon around, winning the cup was his career highlight.

"When Doug Gilmour scored the empty net goal with about a minute left to clinch it, I wouldn't say my life flashed before my eyes, but I thought back to my parents driving me to practices and games and all the teams I played for over the years. Winning the cup was everything you thought it'd be when you were 12 years old playing in your driveway."

Wamsley continued in the back up role in Calgary until January 1992 when he realized another childhood dream. Part of the big Doug Gilmour for Gary Leeman trade, Wamsley became a Toronto Maple Leaf.

"I grew up watching the Leafs on Hockey Night In Canada in my grandfather's basement, which made putting on the blue and white sweater very special."

Wamsley would retire as a Leaf the next season, but would stay in the game as a long time goaltending coach. As a player he was a stand up goalie to a fault, particularly susceptible to low shots to the corners. As a coach he's had to keep learning the game, as the stand up style is essentially non-existent anymore. But one area of the game that he always seemed to master, and perhaps thanks to Jacques Plante, was mental preparedness necessary to be a NHL goalie. He was a very consistent goalie, always pretty good if never elite.

Rick Wamsley played in 407 NHL games, compiling an impressive 204-131-46 record. He posted 12 shut outs and a career 3.33 goals against average, a very respectable number for a goalie in the 1980s.

Wamsley also twice represented his country in international play. He helped Canada medal at the 1983 (bronze) and 1985 (silver) world championships.


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