OHL Alumni Classics: Blake Dunlop

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blake dunlop minnesota north starsThis started out as an article featuring the top five scorers in the OHL for the 1972-73 season. But, after digging, the notes about the Eddie Powers Trophy winner just kept coming so numbers two through five were left off. After all, we’ve talked about Dennis Ververgaert, Rick Middleton, Reg Thomas and Denis Potvin plenty on OHLAC before. Blake Dunlop, however, has somehow gone unnoticed. Until now.

Blake Dunlop – OHL

Yes, the league was called something slightly different back in the early 1970’s but it was the same league. The O, H and L were in the name, just a couple other words got dropped along the way. Blake Dunlop played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 1969-70 to 1972-73, all with the Ottawa 67’s. It was that fourth year, 1972-73 when Dunlop exploded. In the words of the great Pierre McGuire, Blake had his ‘coming out party’.

Playing in 62 regular season games for Ottawa, Dunlop scored 60 goal and assisted on 99 for 159 points. He, of course, led the league in overall scoring and captured the Eddie Powers Trophy. In goal scoring, Blake was third behind Rick Middleton of the Oshawa Generals (67) and Morris Titanic of the Sudbury Wolves (61). He led the league in assists with ten more than the second place Dennis Ververgaert of the London Knights.

That Leo Boivin coached 67’s club was star studded with Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin collecting a whopping 123 points. Ian Turnbull was also on the blue line, coming over from the Montreal Junior Canadiens after that team decided to join the QMJHL for the 1972-73 season. Peter Lee, an Ottawa player that would go on to win the Eddie Powers Trophy and become one of just four in the OHL to score 80+ goals in a season, was in his first full season with the 67’s.

In a year that marked the arrival of the expansion Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Ottawa finished third overall in the ten team league, behind the Toronto Marlboros and Peterborough Petes. The 67’s beat the Sudbury Wolves in the opening round of the Robertson Cup playoffs. Sudbury was in their first season, as well, having relocated from Niagara Falls. Ottawa then lost in the following round to the Marlboros.

Over that playoff season, Blake continued on his rampant pace with ten goals and 16 assists for 26 points over nine games. Despite the amazing success over the entire season, Dunlop was relegated to the Second All-Star Team. He was also denied the Red Tilson Trophy as the league’s MVP with that award going to Rick Middleton.

Blake Dunlop – NHL

His success in that final season didn’t go unnoticed. The Minnesota North Stars took him in the second round of the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft, 18th overall. Dunlop was a first rounder in the World Hockey Association, going 12th overall to the New England Whalers.


Blake’s National Hockey League career spanned from 1973-74 to 1983-84 with the North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings. He played in 550 regular season games and contributed 130 goals and 274 assists. Dunlop also appeared in 40 Stanley Cup playoff games, adding 14 points.

Dunlop was a 20 goal scorer four times in the NHL. Despite seeing action with the North Stars and Flyers, it wasn’t until a June 7, 1979 trade sent him from Philly to the Blues before his career took off. In that trade, St. Louis also got Rick Lapointe while the Flyers got Phil Myre.

In a previous trade, Blake was sent from the North Stars to Philadelphia on October 28, 1977, in exchange for Harvey Bennett. Bennett played just 64 games for Minnesota, all in 1977-78. Ironically, his career ended with St. Louis in 1978-79, a year before he would have been teamed up with Dunlop.

1980-81 was Blake’s top season in the NHL. He scored 20 and assisted on 67 for 87 points while appearing in all 80 regular season games for the Blues. He tied for seventh in the NHL for assists with Randy Carlyle of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dunlop was named the Bill Masterton Trophy recipient. He was honoured for perseverance after eight years of spending much of his time in the minors before having such a breakout season.

Blake Dunlop – AHL

Dunlop’s achievements in the American Hockey League are certainly noteworthy. He spent his early years with the New Haven Nighthawks and continued to show at least some of the scoring ability he displayed in the OHL.

In his rookie season, 1973-74, Blake tied for fifth in goal scoring with 37, just one ahead of his nemesis Rick Middleton, then with the Providence Reds. And, ironically, it was Middleton that took the Dudley ‘Red’ Garrett Memorial Award as rookie of the year.

In 1976-77 with the Nighthawks, Dunlop enjoyed his greatest individual season over his AHL career. His 33 goals tied him for eighth in the league while his 60 assists were tops and his 93 points tied him for fourth in the race for the John B. Sollenberger Trophy.

It wasn’t until he left New Haven before Blake really achieved and earned a much closer look from the NHL. Now with the Maine Mariners, Dunlop scored 29 and assisted on 53 for 82 points over 62 regular season games. His assist total was good for eighth and he tied for tenth in overall scoring.

The Mariners finished first overall in the nine team AHL with the help the goaltending duo of Pete Peeters and Rick St. Croix. As luck would have it, Maine faced off against the New Haven Nighthawks in the Calder Cup finals. The Mariners came out on top in five games for the championship. Over ten playoff games, Dunlop scored five and assisted on four.

With Middleton now an established NHLer, Blake took home the hardware. He was a First Team All-Star. He was he winner of the Les Cunningham Award as MVP. He was the first ever winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for sportsmanship.

 

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM
69-70 Ottawa 67’s OHA 45 17 15 32 10
70-71 Ottawa 67’s OHA 62 44 46 90 39
71-72 Ottawa 67’s OHA 62 32 52 84 41
72-73 Ottawa 67’s OHA 62 60 99 159 50
73-74 New Haven Nighthawks AHL 59 37 41 78 25
73-74 Minnesota North Stars NHL 12 0 0 0 2
74-75 Minnesota North Stars NHL 52 9 18 27 8
75-76 New Haven Nighthawks AHL 10 2 10 12 8
75-76 Minnesota North Stars NHL 33 9 11 20 8
76-77 New Haven Nighthawks AHL 76 33 60 93 16
76-77 Minnesota North Stars NHL 3 0 1 1 0
77-78 Fort Worth Texans CHL 6 4 2 6 11
77-78 Maine Mariners AHL 62 29 53 82 24
77-78 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 3 0 1 1 0
78-79 Maine Mariners AHL 12 9 6 15 6
78-79 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 66 20 28 48 16
79-80 St. Louis Blues NHL 72 18 27 45 28
80-81 St. Louis Blues NHL 80 20 67 87 40
81-82 St. Louis Blues NHL 77 25 53 78 32
82-83 St. Louis Blues NHL 78 22 44 66 14
83-84 St. Louis Blues NHL 17 1 10 11 4
83-84 Detroit Red Wings NHL 57 6 14 20 20

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