Former Rangers defenseman Willie Huber
passed away of an apparent heart attack at his home in Hamilton, Ontario, on Monday morning. He was 52 years old.
|Willie Huber, the tallest player who had ever joined the Rangers at the time of his arrival in 1983, remained with the team into the 1987-88 season. |
Acquired by the Rangers from the Detroit Red Wings on June 13, 1983 along with forwards Mark Osborne and Mike Blaisdell in exchange for goalie Eddie Mio and forwards Ron Duguay and Eddie Johnstone, Huber went on to play 238 games over four-plus seasons with the Blueshirts. In that span, he recorded 86 points and 284 penalty minutes.
Huber, who appeared in the 1983 NHL All-Star Game while still a member of the Red Wings, stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 225 pounds. When he came to the Rangers, he was the tallest player in the NHL.
At the time of his arrival, he was also the tallest player in Rangers history, but despite his large frame, he was a smooth-skating offensive defenseman. In four of his five seasons with Detroit, he notched at least 40 points, including a career-high 49 during the 1980-81 campaign.
However, injuries derailed Huber’s success after he came to New York. During his first season with the Rangers, 1983-84, he tore ligaments in his left knee, finishing the year with 23 points in 42 games. The following season Huber tore ligaments in his right knee, and was limited to 14 points in 49 games.
Perhaps some of Huber’s best moments with the Rangers came during the club’s run to the 1986 Eastern Conference Finals. Huber recorded three goals and three assists for six points during those memorable 16 games, finishing second among the team’s defensemen in points, two behind Reijo Ruotsalainen. The Rangers were bested in five games by the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1986 after having defeated the Flyers and Capitals in the first two rounds that spring.
Born in West Germany, Huber immigrated to Canada with his family when he was a baby and grew up in Hamilton, where he helped lead the local junior team to the 1976 Memorial Cup champion before becoming a Red Wings first-round draft pick two years later.
Huber, who appeared in 655 NHL games before retiring in 1989, leaves a wife and two teenaged children.