Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Dale Rolfe
Dale Rolfe was a forward until he arrived to play junior hockey with the Barrie Flyers of the OHA in 1956. Under the direction of coach Hap Emms, however, his big, lanky frame was moved back to the blueline to serve and protect his future brother-in-law, goaltender Wayne Rutledge.

Afterwards, Rolfe turned pro with the Boston Bruins' organization in 1959-60. He got a three-game tryout in Beantown, but was sent to the minors by coach Milt Schmidt who questioned Rolfe's commitment to work hard with consistency.

The move proved to be quite a stumbling block to his NHL aspirations. He tumbled his way across the Bruins' minor-league chain with stops in Kingston, Portland, and Hershey until a near-death blow was dealt to his career. He was traded to Eddie Shore's Springfield Indians.

In Springfield, players were taught to play a great defensive game by Shore, a man who was a master of the position in his day. But the price of admission was to be an indentured servant. Players on Shore's team were expected to collect tickets at the turn-styles and to clean up the rink after the game -- all for a tiny annual stipend. Rolfe once remarked that the donut sellers made more money than the players did.

On the Indians' blueline, Rolfe was paired with future NHLer and fellow prisoner Bill White. Both players knew that they were better than many of the rearguards who were in the NHL at that time. But Shore wouldn't allow either player to go to the big tent unless he received a small mountain of cash and a pile of minor-league players. No offers came through.

Rolfe endured the situation for four seasons and was contemplating his retirement as a form of escape. In the end, though, the Indians were sold to the expansion L.A. Kings. At last, Rolfe was free to return to the NHL. He joined the Kings' blueline corps in 1967 and lasted until 1970 when he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings. In the Motor City questions about Rolfe's self-discipline continued to be raised. It was observed that he had a tendency to skate like a madman to make the team at training camp and then taper off as the season progressed. As a result, his stay in a Wings' sweater was short. He was traded to the New York Rangers in 1971.

With the Rangers, Rolfe really found his NHL legs. There were no more questions raised about his commitment. He became a pillar on defense, especially during any playoff action.

His most infamous moment came during a playoff game in 1974 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers were intimidating Ranger players all night. At one point, they were zeroing in on defenseman Brad Park. Rolfe had seen enough. He stepped in to support his defenisve partner when he found himself squared off against Dave "The Hammer" Schultz. Before Rolfe could even react, his knees were already buckling under the weight of a severe beating. None of his Ranger teammates came to his aid.

Rolfe survived the drubbing to play one final season. In the 42nd game of the 1974-75 campaign, however, he crashed into the boards, feet first and suffered a severe ankle break that ended his career.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1956-57 Barrie Flyers OHA-Jr. 52 18 16 34 37 3 0 0 0 2
1957-58 Barrie Flyers OHA-Jr. 50 5 22 27 83 4 0 0 0 8
1958-59 Barrie Flyers OHA-Jr. 44 9 25 34 132 6 1 4 5 24
1959-60 Barrie Flyers OHA-Jr. 48 8 39 47 127 6 1 6 7 25
1959-60 Boston Bruins NHL 3 0 0 0 0
1959-60 Kingston Frontenacs EPHL 2 0 1 1 2
1960-61 Portland Buckaroos WHL 70 4 12 16 52 14 2 5 7 8
1961-62 Portland Buckaroos WHL 70 7 15 22 65 7 1 2 3 8
1962-63 Hershey Bears AHL 53 3 9 12 78 11 1 3 4 26
1963-64 Springfield Indians AHL 71 2 16 18 103
1964-65 Springfield Indians AHL 69 10 25 35 68
1965-66 Springfield Indians AHL 71 5 27 32 94 6 0 1 1 16
1966-67 Springfield Indians AHL 67 14 35 49 94
1967-68 Los Angeles Kings NHL 68 3 13 16 84 -10 7 0 1 1 14
1967-68 Springfield Kings AHL 6 1 5 6 2
1968-69 Los Angeles Kings NHL 75 3 19 22 85 -24 10 0 4 4 8
1969-70 Los Angeles Kings NHL 55 1 9 10 77 -25
1969-70 Detroit Red Wings NHL 20 2 9 11 12 +9 4 0 2 2 8
1970-71 Detroit Red Wings NHL 44 3 9 12 48 -13
1970-71 New York Rangers NHL 14 0 7 7 23 +11 13 0 1 1 14
1971-72 New York Rangers NHL 68 2 14 16 67 +41 16 4 3 7 16
1972-73 New York Rangers NHL 72 7 25 32 74 +41 8 0 5 5 6
1973-74 New York Rangers NHL 48 3 12 15 56 +16 13 1 8 9 23
1974-75 New York Rangers NHL 42 1 8 9 30 +12
NHL Totals 509 25 125 150 556 71 5 24 29 89


OHA-Jr. First Team All-Star (1960)
AHL First All-Star Team (1967)
Traded to Springfield (AHL) by Boston with Bruce Gamble, Terry Gray and Randy Miller for Bob McCord, June, 1963. NHL rights transferred to Los Angeles after NHL club purchased Springfield (AHL) franchise, May, 1967. Traded to Detroit by Los Angeles with Gary Croteau and Larry Johnston for Garry Monahan, Matt Ravlich and Brian Gibbons, February 20, 1970. Traded to NY Rangers by Detroit for Jim Krulicki, March 2, 1971.
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