Indigenous hockey player Dale McCourt had steady NHL career

Decades ago, Dale McCourt was a prominent name in Junior hockey.

Born in Falconbridge Ontario, McCourt had a standout junior career which included three straight seasons of 50 or more goals in the OHA along with leading the Hamilton Fincups to the 1976 Memorial Cup Championship.

McCourt (Frog Lake First Nations), had a year to remember when in 1976, he led the team offensively with 55 goals, and 139 points in 66 regular season games played. Continuing to show why he was looked upon as a potential NHL star, this 5’10’’ 180 -pound centreman who was team captain, scored some big playoff goals that year, as he eventually captured the Stafford Smythe Memorial Cup MVP honors.

A year later, McCourt added another achievement to his resume where he was named tournament all-star at the 1977 World Junior Championships as he helped Canada win silver,

Finishing his junior career on a high note, McCourt tallied 60 goals and 139 points with the St. Catharines Fincups, and was eventually selected as the 1977 Canadian Major Junior player-of-the-year.

After that last year, McCourt had broken all sorts of junior records as he ended up scoring 193 goals and 286 assists in 296 total junior games, before eventually being selected first overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft.

Making an immediate impact, McCourt had a solid rookie season which saw him score 33 goals and 72 points to finish fourth in the Calder Trophy voting for NHL Rookie of the Year.

Life was good for McCourt who avoided the dreaded sophomore jinx by producing 71 points (28 goals, 43 assists) in his second season.

Coming from hockey bloodlines, McCourt, whose uncle is former Toronto Maple Leafs’ captain and Hockey Hall of Famer George ‘Chief’ Armstrong, hit the 30 goal, 80 plus point plateau in his third and fourth campaigns. During the 1981/82 season, McCourt saw his tenure with Detroit come to an end. After starting out the season with 13 goals and 27 points in 26 games, he was part of a blockbuster trade which saw his rights shipped to the Buffalo Sabres.

McCourt made an immediate solid impression with Buffalo by totalling 20 goals and 42 points in 52 games played.

The following year, he would produce 20 goals and 52 points in his final season wearing Sabres colors.

After starting out the 1983/84 season by scoring a goal and four points in five games, this 1977 first round pick was once again on the move as he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs’.

In his one and only season with the Buds, McCourt scored 19 goals and 43 points, in his final National Hockey League season.

Not ready to hang up the skates, McCourt moved to Europe, where starting in 1985/86, he played six seasons for the Ambri -Piotta in Switzerland.  Playing overseas, McCourt’s best year came in 1988/89, when he produced 43 goals along with 68 points.

McCourt, also proudly represented Canada at two World Championships.

In a stellar junior career, McCourt, upon graduating held numerous offensive records, as he finished up with 193 goals and 286 assists in 296 total games played with the Sudbury Wolves, Hamilton Red Wings (Who changed their name to Fincups) and St. Catharines Fincups.

Finishing his junior career on a high, McCourt was chosen in 1977 the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year. He was also nominated in back-to-back years (1975-’76) and (1976-’77) as the OHA’s most Sportsmanlike Player.

When McCourt’s playing career ended, he went behind the bench where he spent two seasons coaching the Berlin Capitals of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

While he might not have won a Stanley Cup, McCourt gave Indigenous hockey fans a reason to feel pride in his solid career.

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