(Photo Credit: Anthony Neste/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff

On April 13th, Bruins Alum Ken Hodge Jr will celebrate his 56th birthday. He began playing for his high-school team as a 16-year-old forward for the St. John’s Prep Eagles (High-MA) and played for two years, appearing in 44 games and recording 47-71-118 numbers. After graduating, he entered the 1984 NHL Entry Draft and was selected by the Minnesota North Stars in the third round.

Hodge Jr. decided to continue his education and committed to Boston College in 1984. He played for the Boston College Eagles from 1984-to 1987, suiting up for 99 games and contributing 60-94-154 numbers. He forged his senior year to sign his entry-level contract with Minnesota and reported to the International Hockey League (IHL) to play for the Kalamazoo Wings.

During his second year in the IHL, the forward was called up for his first National Hockey League action with the Wild and suited up for just five games before being reassigned to Kalamazoo (IHL) for the remainder of the season. He continued to play in the IHL in the 1989-1990 season for Kalamazoo, scoring 33 goals and 86 points in 68 games played.

During the offseason of the ’90-’91 NHL season, Ken Hodge Jr was traded by the Minnesota North Stars to the Boston Bruins for a fourth-round draft pick in 1992 (Jere Lehtinen). The forward reported to the American Hockey League to play for the Maine Mariners, and after recording seven goals and 17 points in just eight games, he was called up to play for the Bruins. The young stud played 70 games that season and put up tremendous numbers. In 70 games, Hodge Jr netted 30 goals and assisted on 29 goals.

Hodge’s numbers were so good that he was selected to the NHL All-Rookie Team and received three votes for the Calder Trophy. The 6’1″ 200-pound forward was able to keep the momentum going into the playoffs and, in 15 games, scored four goals and tallied six assists. Unfortunately, while the ’90-’91 season was a success for Hodge Jr, his career would take a downfall next year. The following season, Hodge Jr. suited up for 42 games with the Bruins, collecting 6-11-17 numbers and a -8 rating before being reassigned to the Maine Mariners (AHL) for the remainder of the year.

Days before the ’92-’93 season, the Boston Bruins decided to trade away Hodge along with Matt Hervey to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Darin Kimble and future considerations. Hodge went on to play 25 games with Tampa and was later reassigned to the IHL and split his time between the Atlanta Knights and San Diego Gulls.

On September 2nd, 1993, the New York Rangers signed Hodge as a free agent and immediately reported to the AHL, playing in 79 games for the Binghamton Rangers (AHL) and posting 22-56-78 numbers. From 1994-to 1996, he returned to the IHL and played for the Kansas City Blades (IHL) and Minnesota Moose (IHL) before joining Germany’s professional league in 1996-1997.

From 1996-to 1998, Hodge Jr. played for Britain’s professional league, suiting up for a total of 83 games with the Cardiff Devils (Britain and BH-Cup) and posting 51-121-172 numbers before officially retiring from the hockey world in 1998.

Unfortunately, Hodge Jr’s NHL career didn’t shape out the way he wanted it to. However, nonetheless, Hodge Jr was still able to play 112 games in four seasons, scoring 36 goals and assisting on 40 goals for 76 points. So, on behalf of myself and the entire BNG Organization, we wish you a happy 56th birthday Ken Hodge Jr!