Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bob Hess

Bob Hess couldn't live up to the lofty expectations placed on his young shoulders. Then again, when you are compared to Bobby Orr, not many can.

St. Louis coach Garry Young predicted Hess would be another Orr after evaluating his rookie NHL season.

"You really can't compare anyone with Orr," he said. " But when you see what this kid is doing at 19, you have to feel he'll be another Orr by the time he's 25."

Hess entered the NHL with high expectations even without the Orr comparisons. Hess was the St. Louis Blues' first pick in the 1974 Amateur Draft, and he immediately was rushed into the lineup. Hess' rookie season included 9 goals and 30 assists for 39 points in 76 games, as well as lots of praise.

"He's smart with the puck, a great skater. Defense is a tough position for a rookie because his mistakes are more likely to show up. But Bobby doesn't make many mistakes," said Young.

Unfortunately the dreaded "Sophomore Jinx" caught Hess, like so many other strong rookies before him and since. Hess would struggle with injuries and confidence. Over the next three years his highest games played total was just 55. His defensive deficiencies showed themselves to the point where St. Louis experimented with him on left wing. By 1979 he was finishing the season in the minor leagues.

Early in the 1980-81 season Hess was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Bill Stewart. He immediately became one of the strongest members of the Rochester Americans, the Sabres chief minor league affiliate. In 1981-82 Hess would spend about half a season with the Sabres due to an injury depleted blue line.

That would prove to be Hess' final season in the NHL, although he would re-appear for three games in 1984 with the Hartford Whalers. Hess opted to extend his career until 1985 by playing as an unaffiliated player in Europe and in the minor leagues.


Paul Allan January 21, 2009 at 3:11 PM  

Nice account of the rather nondiscript career of Bob Hess. His draft year was an interesting one in that the NHL team were allowed to draft 18-year olds for the first time in a while (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here) and several organizations chose to take advantage of this turn of events. Besides Hess from New Westminster, two others I recall taken from the WCHL in the '74 drafter were Bryan Trottier by the Islanders and Grant Mulvey by the Blackhawks. And, as you will surely recall, Hess played for Ernie "Punch" McLean's Bruins which featured Ron Greschner (drafted by the Rangers that year), Sid Prysunka (NYI draftee), Brian Anderson (Minnesota draftee), Ken Dodd (NYR draftee), Don Hay (Minnesota draftee) and Doug Allan (STL draftee).

Great site, thanks for all of your work!

The Ant in Shining Armor April 13, 2010 at 5:55 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derek April 8, 2011 at 9:45 AM  

Andrew - In my old hockey cards I had a card of your fathers and it said he was born in Middleton, Nova Scotia, and as a kid I was always intrigued by that as I am from the Digby area, and no NHL players came from that area. Was his father in the military? - How much time was he in Middleton? and is there any family left there? Thanks

Unknown April 20, 2011 at 10:32 AM  

hey he was one of my major young teen years hearttrob crushes. (pouts) then acts my 50 year old age. lol

sterling.worth June 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM name is Sterling and I use to play bantam hockey with Bob Hess in Cold Lake, Alberta....I saw one of the description by Anderson about Bob being the next Bobbie Orr...well, when I knew him, he would literally go coast to coast and score a goal almost any time we needed one....I remember one time our coach Ferguson, benched Bobbie during the game....near the end of the 3rd period we needed a goal and finally Ferguson said ok Hess get out there....and sure enough coast to coast and goal....just like Orr...I know its just Bantam, but Bobbie Hess was that kind of player and thats just one of many memories I have of him....and he really was a quiet, nice guy....lots of talent....always being pushed by his dad....good or bad, right or wrong, I don't know...

Anonymous,  May 13, 2012 at 12:23 AM  

1974 NHL draft was the first and last underage draft before it came into force in 1979. The underaged players who were born in 1955 or 1956 had to be taken in the first two rounds if at all. The WCHL lost the three formentioned players (Hess, Mulvey and Trottier) as well as D-men Doug Hicks who was in fact the highest drafted underaged player from the WCHL. In all twelve underaged juniors drafted plus underaged Mark Howe who had played as a underaged player in the previous season in the WHA. A few of the others went on to long careers in the NHL. The NHL teams could and did assign a couple of the underagers to their pro farm teams as there was no rule to have to return them to the junior teams if they didn't stick in the NHL. Here is the 1974 draft:

Jeannie Vance,  June 24, 2012 at 1:37 AM  

I was Bob's girlfriend in Cold Lake, AB and attended several of his games when he was playing with the Regina Pats. We also went to school together in Cold Lake, as my Dad was stationed in Cold Lake, as well. Always wondered what happened to him. Then in 1972 heard on TV that he was drafted to St. Louis Blues, I believe. Sure would be nice to see what he looks like today and to hear from him Actually we were both born in the same hospital, in Middleton, Nova Scotia, as well. So nice to be able to finally connect with him again and would be even nicer to hear from him. Jeannie Vance

Dave O'Donnell,  June 12, 2015 at 3:52 PM  

I played with Bob in Chilliwack B.C. in 1971-72. He was a very talented 16 yr old and a great guy.

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