Mike Byers

Mike Byers was one of thousands of journeymen players in NHL history. Not too many of his 170 NHL or 291 WHA games were spectacular by any definition, but he did his job as well as anybody else.

Mike had a five year junior career for the Toronto Marlboros between 1962-67, where he won the Memorial Cup in 1967. He wasn't a big scorer but more of a streaky scorer. He had three four goal games and showed flashes of great hockey.

Mike was an effortless skater with a good burst of speed. He also had a very hard shot but for some reason didn't shoot enough. He played parts of two seasons for Toronto but mostly played in the minors. In 1969 he was traded to Philadelphia but only played 5 games for them late in the season. Mike didn't crack the Flyers lineup the following season (1969-70) and spent the entire season with the Quebec Aces (AHL).

Philadelphia lost their patience with Byers and shipped him to Los Angeles on May 21, 1970. He immediately caught on in LA and scored a fine 27 goals, leading the team, and 45 points, figures that he would never match again on this level. He played on the "Bee Line" together with Bob Berry and Juha Widing. They combined for 173 points and played very solidly. Mike himself had six two goal games and scored against every NHL team. During that season many observers ranked Mike as having one of the best backhanded shots in the league.

The next season Mike came struggling out of the gate and only scored 9 points in the first 28 games for Los Angeles. He was promptly traded to Buffalo. He finished the season in Buffalo and scored 16 points in 46 games and actually played on a line together with Rick Martin and Gilbert Perreault for a brief period. Unfortunately Mike and Sabres coach Joe Crozier didn't get along very well.

"I loved Punch Imlach, both as a coach and general manager," said Mike, "But I didn't have a lot of respect for Joe Crozier, who was coaching the Sabres at the time (1972). I never saw eye-to-eye with Joe. And what I was looking to in Buffalo was a full year with Joe as coach. I just didn't see a lot of positive things by staying in Buffalo. So I jumped."

Mike jumped to the newly started rival league WHA. He had been selected by the Los Angeles Sharks in the 1972 WHA general player draft on February 12, 1972. Unfortunately for Mike there wasn't much to cheer about in LA.

"I wasn't really impressed with their management (LA Sharks) right from the beginning," recalled Mike. " I found out later that many of the people who ran the Sharks had never been involved with hockey before. I found out very quickly, their practice session times were scheduled very poorly. So were their travel schedules. And their philosophy was to put out a team on the ice that would be like the Broad Street Bullies in Philadelphia. The best thing that ever happened to me as a member of the Sharks was the day they traded me to the Whalers. It was like going from rags to riches."

After 56 games in Los Angeles (19 goals, 36 points) Mike was traded to the New England Whalers for Mike Hyndman. He scored another 6 goals for New England that season, finishing with a respectable 25 goals. The following two seasons Mike scored 29 goals, 50 points and 22 goals, 48 points for New England.

Mike was then signed as a free agent by Cincinnati early in 1976. He played there briefly before playing his last season in 1976-77 for the Rochester Americans (AHL).

Mike retired and moved to Los Angeles where he became a senior vice-president for a bank and investment company.

In 166 NHL games, he had 42 goals and 34 assists. In 263 WHA games, he had 83 goals and 74 assists.


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