Ex NHLer Greg Joly could have been the next Brad Park if he was handled correctly as a rookie.

As a member of a great Facebook Hockey Community page , I often read some comments about former players that I find disturbing and that I respectfully disagree with.

The issue of Greg Joly the former Washington Caps number one draft choice is a perfect example.

Joly was drafted in 1974 the same year as his junior teammate Clark Gillies was selected later in the first round by the New York Islanders. Ron Greschner (New York Rangers) , Pierre Larouche ( Pittsburgh) Doug Risbrough( Montreal)and Bryan Trottier.(Islanders) Danny Gare ( Buffalo)and Mark Howe( Boston) were all drafted after Joly.

The Washington scouting staff and other scouts saw something in Joly that justified his high placement in the rich talent amateur draft that year.

It didn’t seem far fetched then. Joly was fresh off of a sparkling Memorial Cup performance. He took home the Stafford Smythe Trophy MVP award for his outstanding play which led the Regina Pats squad to a victory over the Quebec Remparts led by Guy Chouinard. Pundits immediately started comparing Joly with the Great Bobby Orr which generally can be a curse rather than a blessing.

Actually, Joly’s skills were more closely aligned with the second best defensemen in the NHL at the time-Brad Park.

Both came into the league at 20 years old and both were listed as 6’0 feet tall and 190 pounds.

He also possessed a low hard shot that he was capable of releasing quickly from the point. One of The difference between Joly and Park’s NHL career was the advent of the WHA.

. Park was drafted in the first round after his successful play in the Juniors with the Toronto Marlboros.

After being drafted by the Rangers they sent the future Hall of Famer to the minors for some seasoning. After about 17 games in the AHL

Park became comfortable with his surroundings and calibrated the difference in speed and physicality and the Rangers called him back up to the major leagues.

A plus for Park was that the Rangers squad had several competent veterans who could take the pressure off of him while he was getting his feet wet in major leagues.

Brad not only learned from star forwards Rod Gilbert . Jean Ratelle, and Vic Hatfield but he also could get needed tutoring from Harry Howell, Jim Nielsen and Rod Seiling. Howell of course was the last defenseman to win the Norris trophy when Bobby Orr entered the league.

By contrast, Joly was expected to lead a expansion team loaded with mostly journeyman.

When Joly made a rookie mistake it was magnified. coach Jim Anderson even suggested that he not carry the puck and adopt a defensive posture.

Eventually as the losses mounted Joly lost some of his confidence and bravado. The best offensive defensemen were risk takers and Joly became reluctant to take a risk offensively

Injuries also played a part causing him to miss several games.

To add pressure on the team and Joly the WHA also made their presence felt with The Phoenix Roadrunners drafting him number one also.

The WHA/NHL competition for his services while ultimately resulted in a good contract. It also placed more expectations on the 20 year olds shoulders.

After a few seasons.he was traded to the Detroit Redwings for popular defenseman Bryan Bugsy Watson.

For a while it looked like the trade would do him some good and he actually was the best player on the ice some nights.

Then the injury bug reappeared again taking him out of the Redwing lineup.

Joly moved between the NHL and the Redwing farm team and seemed to lose his confidence.

He never played badly, but the aggressive rushing style he displayed as a junior star

seemed to disappear in the Major leagues.

It was a shame because Greg Joly possessed the talent to star in the NHL.

Brad Park was also traded but he was part of the blockbuster deal that sent him and Jean Ratelle to Boston for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais.

Brad went on to star on the Bruins blue line and solidifying his reputation as one of the best in NHL history at his position.

Just like in youth hockey , sports in general or in the corporate world the wrong move with talented individuals could result in a different version of what history could have been.

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