(Photo Credit: Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated)

By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff

On September 19th, Defensive hockey specialist Ed Westfall will be celebrating his 81st birthday. Westfall played 18 seasons in the NHL, eleven for Boston and seven for the New York Islanders. In 1961 the Boston Bruins drafted Westfall, and he would prove his worth with the organization. In 1970 and 1972, Westfall would help prevail Boston to Stanley Cup Championships.

Unfortunately, after the ’72 NHL season, the NHL was hosting an NHL expansion draft due to adding two teams (New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames). The Islanders ended up drafting Westfall from the Bruins and would play seven seasons for the Islanders. In celebration of Westfall’s 81st birthday, let’s take a look at his career as a whole.

Tremendous Bruins Career

After being selected by the Boston Bruins in the 1961 NHL draft, Westfall spent his first two seasons with the Providence Reds and Frontenacs from the AHL. However, it wouldn’t be until the 1965-1966 season when Westfall was fully incorporated with the Boston Bruins. In the next seven seasons that Westfall spent with Boston, Westfall scored 110 goals and 142 assists.

Included in those seasons were two Stanley Cup victories (1970 and 1972). Westfall was even on the ice for Bobby Orr’s famous game-winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final. In addition, during the 1971 NHL season, Westfall scored the second of the three fastest goals in NHL history, when the Bruins scored three goals in 20 seconds versus the Vancouver Canucks.

Although Westfall showed that he was beneficial on the offensive side, he was just as good on the defensive side. Westfall made his reputation as a dominant penalty killer during his tenure with Boston, usually paired alongside Derek Sanderson. His penalty-killing dominance was what helped him make the 1971 NHL All-Star game. At the end of the 1971-1972 season, the NHL added two new franchises, the Atlanta Flames and the New York Islanders.

As a result of that, there was going to be an expansion draft. During the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft, Westfall was selected by the Islanders, meaning Westfall’s career with Boston was over. In Westfall’s eleven seasons with Boston, Westfall played 733 games, scored 126 goals, and assisted on 213 goals for a total of 339 points. He would also help Boston to two Stanley Cups, and his presence would be missed by the entire Bruins organization.

Off to the Islanders

After being selected by the Islanders, Westfall made an immediate impact. Westfall was named the first captain of the team and would hold that stature until 1977. Westfall also scored the first goal in the franchise’s history when they faced the Atlanta Flames. Westfall would play seven seasons for the Islanders, but his best statistical season had to be the 1974-1975 season.

Westfall went on a rampage that season scoring 22 goals, assisting on 33 goals, and being named to another All-Star team making that four for his career. While Westfall continued his scoring dominance, in 1977, Westfall was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded to the individual for perseverance and dedication. However, as Westfall was getting older, his numbers began to decrease, which was pretty evident in his final two seasons with the Islanders.

So, at the end of the ’78-’79 season, Westfall announced his retirement from the NHL and was hanging up the skates. In the 1,226 games that Westfall played, he scored 231 goals and 394 assists for 625 points. On top of that, Westfall made four all-star teams, won two Stanley Cups with Boston, won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1977, was top-3 three times in games played in a single season, and was top ten six times in shorthanded goals scored in a single season. An awe-inspiring career for Westfall.

Post Career

After retiring from the NHL, Westfall became the Islanders color analyst for SportsChannel New York. Westfall was paired alongside Jiggs McDonald until 1998 when Westfall retired from the booth. His spot was taken by former NHL player Joe Micheletti. On November 19, 2011, Westfall was inducted into the New York Islanders Hall of Fame.

The Islanders held “Ed Westfall Night” in his honor. He and his former partner in the booth Jiggs McDonald called the second period in the game that night between two of his former teams, the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins.

So, Mr. Westfall, wherever you might be on this day, the entire BNG Hockey Organization and I hope you enjoy your 80th birthday and thank you for all you brought to the game of hockey.