Tuesday

Howie Hughes

Did you know that Howie Hughes scored the first Los Angeles Kings goal in the Fabulous Forum at 7:30 of the 1st period on January 11, 1968 vs. St.Louis?


Howie was one of those guys who had to fight for every minute of his ice time in the NHL. At only 5´9" he was considered to be too small for the NHL and it wasn't until the expansion in 1967-68 that he got his chance to prove himself in the NHL.

"Size shouldn't matter" Howie once said "only what you do or don't do. I know I did pretty well. Most of my career, it didn't get me anywhere. Why didn't I get more of a chance ? was it because of my size ? I don't know. I didn't make the decisions and I never complained. I just did the best I could."

Howie played his junior hockey for his hometown team, St.Boniface Canadians between 1955-59. He was picked up by the Winnipeg Braves for the 1959 playoffs and won the Memorial Cup with them. In his first pro season 1959-60 Howie scored 79 points (35+44) in 68 games for St.Paul (IHL) and won the championship with them.

Howie was clearly too good for the IHL and went on to play in the much stronger WHL. There he played for Winnipeg Warriors, Seattle Totems and Vancouver Canucks between 1960-63. During the 1963-64 season he played for St. Paul Rangers of the CHL, collecting 64 points in 66 games. He then racked up another three strong seasons in the WHL for the Vancouver Canucks (50 and 72 points) under tough coach Bert Olmstead who he called the most influential person in his life and Seattle Totems (71 points).

During that last season with Seattle (66-67) Howie made the 2nd WHL All-Star team and led the Totems to the championship. He also was the leading scorer in the playoffs where he had most goals (6) and points (11)

Los Angeles Kings liked what they saw in Howie and GM Larry Regan chose him in the 9th round of the expansion draft. Regan's own scouting report said: "Howie is an excellent two-way player, and is outstanding as a penalty killer."

Finally at the age of 28 Howie got his chance in the NHL. Although Howie played in every game, he was used sparingly by the coach Red Kelly and played mainly as a spare or penalty killer. In his first season with the Kings he scored 23 points (9+14) in 74 games and scored two more goals in the playoffs.

Howie at that time had a simple explanation. " I don't know any other way to play than full out. That's what I'm getting paid to do. Even when you're playing regularly, you're only on the ice a minute or two at a time, so why not give it all you've got? And when you're only getting a few minutes a game, you have to make the most of them. If being versatile and being able to produce in short shifts helps me keep a job up here, that's fine, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to play regularly and didn't think I was good enough. I love hockey and have few regrets, but I've had a frustrating career." Howie said.

The 1968-69 season proved to be Howie's finest in the NHL. He got 30 points (16+14) in 73 games and saw more ice time. Then in 1969-70 he only played 21 games for LA.

3 comments:

Ann Wilcox April 22, 2012 at 2:18 PM  

I lived in Howie Hughes' apartment building in Inglewood, CA in 1969 (where many of the Kings players lived during the season). My sisters and I baby-sat for Howie's kids, as well as for other Kings familes.

Morris Major October 30, 2012 at 5:06 AM  

Howie lives down the street from me and I see him most every day when he goes to the club house to work out. He still does a full hour of hard work out and at 74, is in exellent shape. A very modest guy about his hockey years and just smiles with a nod.

blunderbuss999 January 16, 2015 at 6:03 PM  

Watched the Kings in B&W on KTLA-5, from San Diego (my dad had a good directional antenna); Howie was a standout in '69.

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