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Tonelli, Murdoch among underrated players of 20th century

Fischler lists those who excelled playing in shadows of top NHL stars

by Stan Fischler / Special to

Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler is writing a weekly scrapbook for this season. Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," will share his knowledge, brand of humor and insight with readers each Wednesday. Today, he reveals his picks for most underrated players of the 20th century:


Murray Murdoch

The New York Rangers forward was one of the first iron men in the NHL. Starting in the 1926-27 season, he played 508 consecutive games until his retirement after 1936-37. A left wing, Murdoch had 188 points (84 goals, 104 assists) in the regular season and 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 55 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and helped the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in 1928 and 1933. 


Nick Metz

You'd never know that Metz was a key contributor to four Stanley Cup championship teams with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Along with his kid brother, Don Metz, Nick was part of the only team to lose the first three games of the Final and rally to win four in a row, which happened against the Detroit Red Wings in 1942. Though Syl Apps, Turk Broda and Sweeney Schriner got most of the attention for that comeback, Nick Metz scored in Games 4 and 5 of that series. He had 250 points (131 goals, 119 assists) in 517 games over 12 seasons (1934-35 to 1947-48) with the Maple Leafs.  


Donnie Marshall

How would you like to be a center behind Hockey Hall of Famers Jean Beliveau and Henri "Pocket Rocket" Richard on the Montreal Canadiens and expect to get any attention? That was Marshall's fate while playing third-line center on five straight Cup-winning teams from 1956 to 1960. Marshall excelled at everything from taking a regular turn, working the power play and killing penalties. He had 589 points (265 goals, 324 assists) in 1,176 games over 19 seasons (1951-52 to 1971-72) with the Canadiens, Rangers, Buffalo Sabres and Maple Leafs.


Dick Duff

Somewhere between Frank "Big M" Mahovlich, Red Kelly and Johnny Bower, the Maple Leafs featured a little left wing (5-foot-9, 166 pounds) who occasionally stole the show from the future Hall of Famers. Duff's best moment was his Cup-clinching goal against the Chicago Black Hawks in Game 6 of the 1962 Final. Duff also won the Cup with Toronto in 1963, and after a brief stint with the Rangers headed to Montreal, where he won it four times. He had 572 points (283 goals, 289 assists) in 1,030 games over 18 seasons (1954-55 to 1971-72) with the Maple Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings and Sabres. 


John Tonelli

The New York Islanders had future Hall of Famers in Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin and Billy Smith on teams that won the Cup four straight times from 1980-83, but there was no way they could have done that without Tonelli. Exhibit A: On April 13, 1982, Tonelli scored the game-tying goal at 17:39 of the third period and the game-winner 6:19 into overtime for a series-deciding 4-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Patrick Division Semifinals. He had 836 points (325 goals, 511 assists) in 1,028 games over 16 seasons with the Islanders, Calgary Flames, Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and Quebec Nordiques, and 63 points (25 goals, 38 assists in 76 games of the Cup-winning postseasons.

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