If Pavel Bure and Brendan Shanahan have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in recent years, are the people of Riverton, Manitoba that far off about their native son? Reggie Leach had some outstanding highlights to his National Hockey League career and some of his accomplishments are still uniquely his today.
The residents of Riverton put together a petition to have Leach inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, the HHOF is a stubborn bunch driven by a set of standards only they understand. These are, afterall, the people that still leave out Rogie Vachon (of course, this is no longer true with Vachon finally inducted).
Reggie Leach – Junior and Minors
The ‘other guy’ to come out of the Flin Flon Bombers in the late 1960’s. Reggie Leach played with the Bomber for four seasons from 1966-67 to 1969-70. In the first year, the team competed in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. In 45 games, Leach scored 67 goals and assisted on 46 for 113 points.
Reg Leach Collection
The following year, the Bombers joined the newly formed WCHL as charter members. The WCHL (now just WHL) brought together the best of leagues from each of Canada’s individual western provinces. In his three years with the WCHL Bombers, Leach scored 188 goals and totalled 288 points over 138 regular season games.
In 1967-68, Reg scored 87 goals in just 59 games and led the league in that category. He scored 36 more goals than teammate Bobby Clarke and had 30 more than the next contender in the league. His 131 points placed him second to Clarke’s 168. Flin Flon reached the playoff finals before being swept by the Estevan Bruins.
In his final year of junior, 1969-70, Bobby Clarke was gone to the Philadelphia Flyers and Leach was the king of the WCHL castle. In 57 regular season games, Reggie scored 65 goals and assisted on 46 for 111 points. He led the league in goals and points with 17 more goals and 16 more points than the next in line. He was awarded the Brownridge Trophy as scoring leader. That trophy has since been renamed the Bob Clarke Trophy. Leach was also named the WHL Player of the Year.
His time in the minors was limited to 41 games in 1970-71 with the Oklahoma City Blazers of the CHL and 76 games with the Montana Magic of the CHL in 1983-84. The two years in the Central Hockey League represented his first and last years in professional hockey.
With the Blazers, he scored 24 goals and totaled 42 points in his 41 games before being called up to the Boston Bruins. With the Magic, he scored 21 goals and totaled 50 points while playing all 76 regular season games in his final year before retiring.
Reggie Leach – NHL
Reggie Leach was the third overall pick at the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft. Of course, the draft is famous for being the first for the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks. The Sabres chose Gilbert Perreault first overall and the Canucks took Dale Tallon. Right behind Reggie, the Bruins also had the fourth overall pick and selected Rick MacLeish. Both Leach and MacLeish would reunite in Philadelphia and win a Stanley Cup together in 1974-75.
Over his career, Reggie played 934 regular season games, scoring 381 goals and assisting on 285 for 666 points. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, he played an additional 94 games, scoring 47 and adding 69 points. He appeared with the Bruins, California Golden Seals, Philadelphia and the Detroit Red Wings.
He narrowly missed a chance at a first Stanley Cup championship in 1971-72. 56 games into the season, the Bruins shipped him to the California Golden Seals. The Bruins went on to capture their second championship in three years.
His chance did come a few years later with the Flyers. After coming over from the Golden Seals for the 1974-75 season, the Flyers captured their second consecutive Stanley Cup, defeating the Buffalo Sabres in the finals.
However, his greatest playoff accomplishment came the following year, even though the Flyers did not win. During the 1975-76 regular season, Leach’s 61 goals led the National Hockey League, five ahead of Guy Lafleur of the Montreal Canadiens. In the playoffs, the Flyers once again reached the finals. However, the team fell to the Canadiens as Montreal won their first of four straight.
Leach scored 19 goals in 16 playoff games in 1975-76. Only Jari Kurri of the Edmonton Oilers has matched that mark for most goals in a playoff series. Despite losing to Montreal, Reggie was honoured with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Just five players from the losing team have won the Conn Smythe and Leach is the only non-goalie to do so.
Reg would win one more championship in his career but it was not in the NHL. As a member Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup, Leach won gold after Canada swept Czechoslovakia in the best of three final series. Reggie uncharacteristically scored just one goal over the six games in the tournament.
1979-80 was the last real kick at the can and the Flyers came close. Once again, Philadelphia lost in the Stanley Cup finals to a team winning their first of four straight. This time, they lost in six to the New York Islanders. After scoring 50 goals in the regular season, Leach contributed just nine over 19 playoff games. The team was coached by Pat Quinn and Reggie’s old buddy from Flin Flon, Bobby Clarke, was also behind the bench as Quinn’s assistant coach.
Although the residents of Riverton, Manitoba haven’t yet been successful in getting Leach into the Hockey Hall of Fame, he is a member of a handful of other Halls. Reg is a member of both the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1992, he was inducted into the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame.
Reggie Leach – Rookie Card
The Reggie Leach rookie card appears as number 175 in the 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee set. The card is valued at five times a common card and is part of second tier of rookie cards from that year. He appears as a member of the Boston Bruins.
The top tier of RC’s in the 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee set belong to NHL greats Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne. Further down the chain is another group of three that included Leach, Rick MacLeish and Rick Martin.
Reggie Leach Career Stats
|1966-67||Flin Flon Bombers||MJHL||45||67||46||113||118|
|1967-68||Flin Flon Bombers||WCJHL||59||87||44||131||208|
|1968-69||Flin Flon Bombers||WCHL||22||36||10||46||49|
|1969-70||Flin Flon Bombers||WCHL||57||65||46||111||168|
|1970-71||Oklahoma City Blazers||CHL||41||24||18||42||32|
|1971-72||California Golden Seals||NHL||17||6||7||13||7|
|1972-73||California Golden Seals||NHL||76||23||12||35||45|
|1973-74||California Golden Seals||NHL||78||22||24||46||34|
|1982-83||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||78||15||17||32||13|