Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Greg Polis

Greg Polis was born in the community of Westlock, Alberta, on August 8, 1950. He grew up in tiny Dapp, Alberta where the population was just 75 people! As a youngster he used to skate on frozen ponds with his pet dog - a black Labrador retriever. Greg and his dog would be on the ice for hours, as Greg tried to keep the puck away from the dog. This really sharpened Greg's puck handling and skating abilities, and would make him a great junior player and a pretty good NHLer.

A high flying left winger was one of the best players to come out of the Estevan Bruins of the WCJHL, He played there for 4 seasons. Three times he was named as a league all star at left wing, and twice he finished second in the league scoring race - once to Bobby Clarke and once to Reggie Leach! Now that is pretty good company!

Greg's great play at the junior level created superstar expectations at the NHL level, although he would never come close to achieving that lofty status. Polis was drafted 7th overall (just ahead of a fellow named Darryl Sittler) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1970, and made the team the following training camp.

Polis didn't set the league on fire in his rookie season (he did have 18 goals and 33 points in 61 games), yet still represented the Pens in the NHL all star game. By year two Polis had what ultimately proved to be his best year - 30 goals plus 19 assists. He failed to take it to the next level in year 3, as he scored a nearly identical 26 goals and 23 assists. Both years he again represented the Penguins at the All Star Game. That's a pretty impressive statement about a player if he plays in three NHL all star games in his first three seasons!

In his 4th season the extremely fast skater was traded to St. Louis where he failed to make an impact in just 37 games. The following summer he was traded to New York Rangers where it was hoped he would replace the over priced Vic Hadfield who was traded to Pittsburgh. Polis had trouble playing on the top line with Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert though. Those two played a slower, control game while Polis was always skating at full tilt. He did post 26 goals but had just 15 assists.

Ironically, Polis' blessed skating ability became a criticism. He was speedster on the ice, but perhaps never learned to utilize his speed effectively. He would have been better served to have used his speed in short spurts as opposed to always skating like gangbusters. Another criticism was that Polis didn't pass enough, or didn't see the ice well enough to make plays. He'd often race in on a beautiful rush into nowhere, and then was unable to get a great shot away or make a play.

Greg spent 2 and 1/2 more seasons in The Big Apple but he started to develop some knee injuries that would eventually end his career. He played briefly with the Washington Capitals starting half way through the 1978-79 season - and he looked good - scoring 12 goals and 18 points in 19 games, but then the knee gave out on him again. He tried to come back the following two seasons, but only got into 28 games, and scored just one goal.

Greg retired from the game after just two games in the minor leagues in 1980-81 as his knee would no longer allow him to play the game he loved. He finished with 174 goals, 169 assists for 343 points in 615 games in his NHL career.

Greg Polis is now a car salesman in Prince George, British Columbia.


Kevin said...

Thanks for profiling a great teacher at hockey school Joe...many thanks for digging up all the info on Greg. I had the priviledge of attending his school as a kid and got to stay at his Father in laws place for the time I was in Westlock.

Sincerely Kevin

Jeremie White said...

Greg Polis is celebrating his birthday August 8th! I love honouring former pros like this with my SportsArt. See my 18x24" painting of Greg's Penguins hockey card here:
-Jeremie White

Anonymous said...

I have been playing poker with a great hockey player and had no clue. Thank you for this.
Brad Johnston
Prince George B.C.

stage1dave said...

Sure had great wheels, always enjoyed watching him wind up.

His card is till one of my favourites from the 71-72 OPC set; one that I'm still trying to rebuild...after 40 years.

Interestingly, I'm in Westlock a couple times a year pinstriping street rods for the local car clubs, & had no idea he was from there! Better start reading the back of those damned cards...

Shaun said...

I recently found an old team photo of a team which my father played on.( from 1963 ) Also on the team was Greg Polis. Just a bunch of farm boys on the outdoor rink at Dapp. Pretty neat!!
Dapp, Alberta

bob said...

Bob said; I grew up in Dapp and my dad helped coach Greg in his younger years. Would be interested to see the photo that Shaun has from 1963.

Anonymous said...

Hi. You neglected to mention that Greg was in the running for Rookie Of The Year honours prior to his contracting mononucleosis, which shorted his first season by some 15 games.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP