Wednesday

Jim Schoenfeld

Jim Schoenfeld was a goaltender's best friend. A dominating defenseman in his own zone, Schoenfeld was a more unheralded version of Rod Langway in many ways.

The highest rated defenseman in the 1972 Entry Draft, Schoenfeld was drafted 5th overall by the young Buffalo Sabres franchise. Although they realized that Schoenfeld wouldn't do a whole lot offensively, they realized just how special this player truly was.

Schoeny was as tough as they come, and he solidified that reputation early in his career. On December 13, 1972 of his rookie season, Jim got into three fights in a game against the Big Bad Boston Bruins. Jim tangled with Bobby Orr first, which of course would make him a marked man instantly. Carol Vadnais and Wayne Cashman, two of the more rugged Bruins, would go at it with Schoenfeld by the end of the game. The fight with Cashman was particularly memorable as the two crashed against the Zamboni entrance doors. The doors opened up unexpectedly as the two exited the ice.

While Schoeny could handle his own against any of the NHL's toughest customers, don't think he was your stereotypical 1970's goons. He was a fan favorite in Buffalo because of his bone crunching bodychecks, his fearless shot blocking, his tenacity in front of his own net and his constant hustle and work ethic.

Schoefeld, as mentioned earlier, was not an offensive threat. His best season came in 1979-80 when he score 9 goals, 27 assists and 36 points, all career highs. He added 110 PIM and was an amazing +60 en route to being named to the NHL second All Star team. To give you an idea of his great year, the other defensemen named to the All Star Teams were Larry Robinson (First Team), Ray Bourque (First Team) and Borje Salming (Second Team).

Jim played over 9 outstanding years in Buffalo before a big trade took him to Detroit. Traded with Danny Gare and Derek Smith, the Sabres got Mike Foligno, Dale McCourt and Brent Peterson on December 2, 1981. Jim played the next two years with a the struggling Wings team before signing with the Boston Bruins for the 1983-84 season. In 1984-85 he resigned with Buffalo for one final season in the NHL.

After his playing days were over, Jim turned to the world of coaching. Jim enjoyed a long career behind the bench but will always be remembered for his role in "the Doughnut Incident."

Jim was the coach of the stubborn New Jersey Devils in their surprising playoff run in 1988. In game 3 of the Wales Conference finals against the Boston Bruins, Schoenfeld was incensed over the refereeing of Don Koharski, and searched for Koharski after the game. Schoeny caught up to Koharski in a narrow hallway and angry words were exchanged. Koharski somehow ended up on the floor, all though no one but the parties involved know if he was pushed or just lost his balance. Koharski got up and told Schoenfeld "You'll never coach again!" to which Schoenfeld came back with his now infamous reply "You're full of shit. You fell, you fat pig. Have another doughnut!."

NHL executive vice president Brian O'Neill suspended Schoenfeld for abuse of officials. But the Devils, in a surprise move, went to the courts and secured a judge's order that bound the NHL to allow Schoenfeld to coach the Devils in game 4.

Needless to say this didn't sit well with the officials. Just minutes prior to the opening face-off the on ice officials refused to work that game if Schoenfeld was allowed to coach. Desperate to get the situation under control, the NHL hired three amateur off ice officials to control the game. 52 year old Paul McInnis was the referee. He had to borrow Aaron Broten's skates to work the game though. 51 year old Vin Godleski and 50 year old Jim Sullivan were the linesmen. At the beginning of the game the linesmen wore yellow shirts and green sweatpants. New Jersey won the game 3-1 but lost the series 4 games to 3.

6 comments:

Paul Griswold,  4:36 PM  

Best player to ever were a sabres uniform. It's too bad we can't forget the deal with Koharski. So many highlights in this mans career. Look at what he's doing for the Rangers this year. Hold's more jobs for one team than any other coach.

Paul

Mark 7:58 PM  

TOOK EVERY TEAM HE COACHED TO PLAYOFFS HE SHOULD BE WITH BUFFALO NOW..... GO GET HIM!

Mark 7:59 PM  

TOOK EVERY TEAM HE COACHED TO PLAYOFFS HE SHOULD BE WITH BUFFALO NOW..... GO GET HIM!

daniel bosh 2:23 PM  

Gilbert Perrault

Freddie Last 3:39 PM  

This guy was a great and consistent defensive force for the Sabres: I didn't see him play too many bad games.

Freddie Last 3:40 PM  

Truly a great and consistent defensive force for the Sabres. I can't recall having seen him play a really bad game.

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