He was a NHL pioneer in that he grew up playing hockey in Scandinavia before coming over to Canada to play junior and ultimately move on to the big leagues. Players from Sweden and Finland are commonplace in today’s National Hockey League but when Juha Widing played in the 1970’s, it was a rarity.
Born in Oulu, Finland to Swedish nationals, Widing spent his youth in Sweden and moved to Canada as a 17 year old. In 1984, Juha died at the young age of 38 from a heart attack.
Juha Widing – Junior and Minor Pro
Widing came to Canada to play junior on the prairies with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He played three years for Brandon from 1964-65 to 1966-67, the first two years in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and the final year in Manitoba (MJHL).
In 1965-66, Juha tied with Ross Lonsberry of the Estevan Bruins for the league’s goal scoring lead with 67. Yet, he won no individual awards and was not named to the first or second all-star teams.
For 1966-67, the Wheat Kings moved to the MJHL after the SJHL folded. Also making the move back their home province were the Flin Flon Bombers. Widing put up incredible numbers with 70 goals and 74 assists for 144 points in just 43 games. However, a kid named Bobby Clarke was playing for Flin Flon and totalled 183 points on 71 goals and 112 assists. Widing was named the Second Team All-Star Centre with Clarke getting First Team honours. Brandon and Flin Flon faced off in the finals with the Bombers coming out ahead.
Juha’s time in the minors was limited to the 1967-68 and 1968-69 seasons. In both years, he played for the Omaha Knights in the Central Hockey League. In his second season, Widing totalled 80 points on 41 goals and 39 assists over 72 regular season games. His goal total led the league and he placed tied for second for overall scoring. He was once again a Second Team All-Star centre.
Juha Widing – Major League Hockey
Widing played 575 regular season games in the National Hockey League between 1969-70 and 1976-77 with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Cleveland Barons. Over that time, Juha scored 144 and assisted on 226 for 370 points. Playing for some pretty weak teams, he played just eight games in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Juha Widing Collection
Most of his time was spent with the Kings. His career started with the Rangers in 1969-70 but 44 games into the season he was traded to Los Angeles along with Real Lemieux for Ted Irvine. In his final year, 1976-77, Widing was traded midseason to the Cleveland Barons with Gary Edwards for Jim Moxey and Gary Simmons.
Playing for the lowly Kings of the early 1970’s, Widing led the team in scoring on more than one occasion. Four times, he scored 25 or more goals in a single season. His best year offensively was 1972-73 when he totalled 70 points on 16 goals and 54 assists over 77 games. His assist total was one away from finishing in the NHL’s top ten.
Juha played one year in the World Hockey Association, 1977-78. The Edmonton Oilers picked him up for the second to last season of the WHA’s existence. His numbers were decent with 42 points over 71 games. Widing played in Edmonton’s five playoff games as the Oilers were ousted in the opening round 4-1 by the New England Whalers. The Whalers outscored the Oilers 23-9 over the five games.
In the off-season, the Oilers traded Widing to the Indianapolis Racers in exchange for Bill Goldsworthy. Juha chose to instead retire from the game.
Juha Widing – Rookie Card
The official Juha Widing is either of the 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee or 1971-72 Topps number 86. He is shown as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. However, Widing does appear the year before in the 1970-71 Dad’s Cookies set.
|1964-65||Brandon Wheat Kings||SJHL||45||23||15||38||26|
|1965-66||Brandon Wheat Kings||SJHL||50||62||52||114||29|
|1966-67||Brandon Wheat Kings||MJHL||43||70||74||144||64|
|1969-70||New York Rangers||NHL||44||7||7||14||10|
|1969-70||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||4||0||2||2||2|
|1970-71||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||78||25||40||65||24|
|1971-72||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||78||27||28||55||26|
|1972-73||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||77||16||54||70||30|
|1973-74||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||71||27||30||57||26|
|1974-75||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||80||26||34||60||46|
|1975-76||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||67||7||15||22||26|
|1976-77||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||47||3||8||11||8|