He played only 200 regular season games for the Oilers, and he was never a top line player. Ken Linseman’s unique qualities and skills made him unforgettable in every Oiler game he played. Love him or hate him, you had to be aware of The Rat.
|BEFORE THE DRAFT|
- Rated in The Hockey News draft preview issue as the No. 11 overall prospect for the 1978 NHL draft.
- Linseman was criminally charged and eventually convicted of assault for kicking an opponent’s head with his skate during his junior career.
- Linseman challenged NHL ban on drafting underage juniors in a 1977 lawsuit that went through Canadian court system. The suit was later dropped when Linseman signed to play in the WHA, but it helped open the door for the NHL’s drafting of 18-year-olds.
- Signed with Birmingham (WHA) as a 19-year-old underage junior in 1977, helping the team earn nickname "Baby Bulls" for its reliance on the signing of underage juniors. The WHA tried to block Linseman from signing his contract because it banned underage signings, but Linseman and his father went to court and got a restraining order that allowed him to play in the league. Because Linseman was older than 18, a judge ruled he could not be stopped from making a living as a pro hockey player.
Selected in the first round, 7th overall in the 1978 Entry Draft by Philadelphia
Courtesy Hockey Draft Central.
If you would give me two minutes of your time, please watch this video. In it, Howie Meeker gives a brilliant description of Linseman as a hockey player (he was terrific) while Linseman does what he does best–piss off the opponent. Unusual in this video? Linseman didn’t get away.
Linesman was a helluva hockey player. Highly skilled and very gritty, he was a quality playmaker and could score goals in bunches. He was an Oiler twice (more later), and the first time he helped give Edmonton what might be the best 1-3 center cluster in the game’s history (Gretzky, Messier, Linseman).
- One Stanley Cup (1984)
- Played on Philadelphia team that set NHL record with 35-game unbeaten streak from Oct. 14, 1979, to Jan. 6, 1980
- Played on "Rat Patrol" line with Paul Holmgren and Brian Propp for Philadelphia from 1979-80 to 1981-82
- Served two four-game suspensions during 1982-83 season. The second suspension resulted from a fight with Dean Kennedy during Edmonton’s Feb. 3, 1983, game vs. Los Angeles. The fight took place under the stands at Northlands Coliseum, and Linseman was suspended on Feb. 18, 1983
- Played on line with Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson for Edmonton in 1983-84
- Scored Stanley Cup-winning goal for Edmonton in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Finals vs. N.Y. Islanders on May 19, 1984
- An avid surfer during his playing days and continued to surf for years after his retirement.
HOW THEY GOT HIM, LOST HIM, GOT HIM, LOST HIM
- Philadelphia traded Linseman, Greg C. Adams, 1982 first-round pick (David A. Jensen) and 1982 third-round pick (Leif Karlsson) to Hartford in exchange for Mark Howe and 1983 third-round pick (Derrick Smith) on August 19, 1982.
- Same day: Hartford then traded Linseman and Dan Nachbaur to Edmonton in exchange for Risto Siltanen and Brent Loney to complete the three-way deal on August 19, 1982.
- Edmonton traded Linseman to Boston straight up for Mike Krushelnyski June 21, 1984.
- Edmonton signs Linseman as a free agent, August 31, 1990.
- Edmonton trades Linseman to Toronto for cash, October 7, 1991.
He was a scrappy, grinding, shifty centreman who could score, check, kill penalties, and irritate opponents with a mastery rarely ever seen. He also had blinking-quick speed on his skates and a mouth like Don Rickles to boot. He once noted that, in light of his style of play, he’d have felt embarrassed to win the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play.
He was a physical player in all zones of the ice, but at 5.11 and 175 he was anything but a heavy hitter. He did hit hard, though often taking a couple more strides than he should have and often using his arms and elbows to hit high. In a pre-obstruction crackdown NHL he was well versed in other uses for the hockey stick. He would slask, cross check and spear an opponent, and he was a clutch and grab specialist.
Early in his career, Linseman was looked upon as being a newer, nastier Bobby Clarke. He was filthy, as the video above proves beyond a doubt. Linseman was also a very effective hockey player, and I think that part of his game has been obscured by his famous antics and ‘outside the line’ activities on the ice.
That’s a shame. He was a wonderful hockey player and a world class rat. You loved him if he was on your side, and hated him if it was the opposite. I think that’s a compliment.