Friday, January 27, 2012

Jock Callander

The status of hockey legend is not exclusively awarded to the NHL's greatest superstar. Jock Callander is very much a legend of hockey in his own right, despite playing only 109 NHL games. But his 18 year minor league career have made him a legend particularly in Muskegon and Cleveland.

Jock Callander was born on April 23, 1961 in Regina, Saskatchewan, a city he later would take by storm as a junior standout. In 1980/81 season Jock scored 67 goals along with 86 assists for a 153 points in 72 games. Jock's scoring exploits did not go unnoticed as he signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues on September 28, 1981. However after training camp it was determined that Jock needed more time to develop and was returned to junior for the 1981/82 season where he took his offensive dominance to a new level. He had 79 goals, 111 assists for 190 points leading the WHL in scoring.

Jock made the big jump to professional hockey in 1982-83 when he joined the Salt Lake City Golden Eagles, the St. Louis Blues farm club, of the Central Hockey League. In his rookie season of 68 games he scored 20 goals, 27 assists for 47 points.
The following season the St. Louis Blues moved their farm team to Montana. Jock became a member of the Montana Magic. In Jock's second pro season he continued his hard work. In 72 games he scored 27 goals, 32 assists for 59 points.

The CHL folded after the 1983-84 season so Jock moved on to the I.H.L where he would play parts of 15 seasons and would become one of the best players in the history of the International Hockey League Jock joined the Muskegon Lumberjacks for the 1984-85 season and he put up some great numbers.

In 82 games in 84-85 he scored 39 goals along with 68 assists for 107 points, second in team points. The next season (1985-86) Jock continued his great play and racked up another 39 goals and 72 assists for 111 points, leading the team in scoring. The Lumberjacks made the playoffs and Jock continued his torrid pace. In 14 playoff games he scored 12 goals, 11 assists for 23 points as the Lumberjacks was the Turner Cup Championship that they won that year. Jock was named as the playoffs most valuable performer.

In 1986/87, Jock took his game to yet another level. He led the entire IHL in scoring (tied with Jeff Pyle actually), registering 54 goals, 82 assists for 136 points. Jock and Pyle also were named co-winners of the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy as the I.H.L.'s MVP.

Jock's hard work finally paid off in terms of NHL opportunities. He signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins July 31, 1987. During the 1987-88 season, Jock got his first chance to play in the N.H.L. The Penguins called Jock up and he split the season in Pittsburgh and Muskegon. In 41 N.H.L. games with the Penguins, he scored 11 goals with 16 assists for 27 points. Jock would split each of the next two seasons in similar fashion, playing 30 games in each season in the NHL. However Jock never was quite able to produce at the NHL level like he did in the IHL.

In late 1989, Jock was back with the Lumberjacks and aided them as they went on to win their second Turner Cup Championship. For the next two seasons, 1990-91 and 1991-92, Jock spent the regular season in Muskegon and never was recalled by the Pens. It looked as though Jock's days in Pittsburgh were over but Jock just continued to focus on being the best player he could be at the IHL level and he would be prepared for the next callup. You never no if or when that callup will come.

In 1991-92, Jock scored 42 goals, 70 assists for 112 points. Jock again was awarded a First Team All-star selection. The Lumberjacks made the playoffs and advanced to the final round of the Turner Cup Championship against the favorite Kansas City Blades. During this time the Pittsburgh Penguins were in the Stanley Cup playoffs defending their 1991 Stanley Cup title. The Pens suffered a number
of injuries and called up replacement players from Muskegon. Jock returned to the NHL along with Mike Michayluk and Mike Needham. The trio first appeared in the Patrick Division finals against the New York Rangers. Jock, Dave Michayluk, and Mike Needham formed a solid and surprisingly effective 4th line for the Pens. The trio earned the nickname "The Muskegon Line". The Pens advanced past the Rangers and swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the Finals. Jock's long tenure of riding minor league busses finally was rewarded when he fulfilled his dream of hoisting the Stanley Cup.

The N.H.L. expanded in 1992 and Jock was signed as a free agent of the expansion team Tampa Bay Lightning on July 29, 1992. Jock had hoped that his playoff performance from the prior season and his long minor league scoring exploits would mean a good chance to play in the new NHL city. However he only appeared in 8 games with the Lightning and spent most of the season with Tampa Bay's farm team - the Atlanta Knights.

After one season in Tampa-Atlanta, Jock found himself back in a Lumberjacks uniform in 1993-94. However the Lumberjacks moved from Muskegon to Cleveland. Jock went on to spend the next 6 seasons with the Lumberjacks.

1 comment:

Ron C. Johnston said...

Thanks Joe - One more for the Regina Pats Alumni Web Site.

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