Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rob Ramage

Rob was one of the best two way blue liners in his 15 years in the NHL. He was big, physical and good in both ends of the rink. He was a great leader and character player. He was an excellent skater for his size (6'2" 200lbs), a smart playmaker and power play quarterback. He was solid in his own zone as well. The only thing Ramage lacked was speed.

Rob enjoyed a stellar junior career with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey Association for three seasons. Ramage played the 1978-79 season with the Birmingham Bulls of the World Hockey Association where he scored 12 goals and 48 points with 165 PIM as a 19 year old playing against some of the finest talents in hockey. His incredible play on the blue line earned him what he calls his greatest personal hockey highlight - being selected first overall in the 1979 Entry Draft by the Colorado Rockies. That 1979 draft was perhaps the deepest in history, with names like Mike Gartner, Ray Bourque, Michel Goulet, Rick Vaive, Kevin Lowe and Paul Reinhart also taken high. While Ramage isn't considered to be quite in their class, he didn't disappoint, enjoying a fine NHL career.

Ramage joined the Rockies in 1979 and quickly developed into a legitimate NHL d-man. He posted a career high 20 goals along with 42 assists in 1980-81. In three seasons with Colorado he scored 41 goals and 132 points with 529 PIM.

Rob actually scored one of the most infamous goals in NHL history, but never got credit for it. NY Islanders goaltender Billy Smith got credit for it. Smith was the last player to touch the puck for the Islanders before Ramage picked up the loose puck. The Rockies had already pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and were buzzing around the Isles net, trying to even the score. Ramage, who had pinched in to keep the play alive, put the puck back to the point, only to realize that is where he should be! No one had covered his position when he pinched in. The puck slid all the way down the ice into his own goal. It was the first time a NHL goaltender was given credit for scoring a goal.

Prior to the 1982-83 campaign, Ramage was traded to the St. Louis Blues where he spent six years. "Rammer" was struggling a bit but assistant coach Barclay Plager took the youngster under his wing. Ramage credits Plager with being the most influential person in his NHL career. Ramage fully developed in St. Louis. It was in St. Louis where he recorded his best offensive season in the NHL as he notched career-highs with 56 assists and 66 points in 1985-86.

Rob was then traded to Calgary during the 1987-88 season in "the trade that brought the Cup to Calgary." Rammer and back up netminder Rick Wamsley went to Calgary in exchange for Steve Bozek and young hot shot named Brett Hull. While Hull would go on to achieve superstar status in St. Louis, Ramage and Wamsley helped the Flames win the Stanley Cup the following year as he tallied 12 points in 20 playoff games during Calgary's championship run.

Before the 1989-90 season, Ramage was traded to Toronto where he played for two seasons. The following year he was claimed by the Minnesota Stars in the 1991 Expansion Draft and he then split the 1992-93 season between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. He helped the Canadiens capture the Stanley Cup championship that year, his second Cup ring.

Rob, who wore #55 much of his career, began the 1993-94 season with the Habs but finished the year with the Philadelphia Flyers and it was after that season that he decided to hang up the blades.

Over his 15 NHL seasons, Rob scored 139 goals, 425 assists and 564 points in 1,044 regular season games. He added 50 points in 84 playoff contests.

After trying his hand at hockey broadcasting, Ramage became a successful stock broker and financial consultant out of St. Louis. He was always very active in the NHL alumni association.

Unfortunately, his life has been on hold since Christmas time 2003. On Dec. 16, 2003, Ramage was charged with impaired driving in the three-car accident that killed former NHL All-Star defenseman Keith Magnuson. The two friends were returning from the funeral of ex-NHL player Keith McCreary in Bolton, Ontario. McCreary, the chairman of the NHL Alumni Association, had died from cancer.

Magnuson, 56, died instantly, while Ramage and a woman in one of the other vehicles were also hurt, but their injuries were not life-threatening. Ramage required surgery for a dislocated hip. Police charged a hospitalized Ramage with impaired driving resulting in death -- a violation punishable by up to life in prison.

At last word Ramage's lawyers have been purposefully dragging out all court proceedings, and his case has yet to go to court (as of June, 2007).


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