Saturday

Willie Huber

Big Willie Style. Its a bad song by a good actor. It's also the way Wilhelm Heinrich Huber played defense in the National Hockey League.

So what exactly is Big Willie Style on ice? Well, adventuresome to say the least. He was an offensive defenseman, particularly in his 5 years with Detroit in the early 1980s. In the offensive zone the 6'5" 230lb giant used his reach to great advantage. And when he leaned into a shot with all that weight behind him, he could really let a shot rip. He had a good read of the offensive play developing in the other team's zone.

But in the defensive zone he was down right awful on many nights. In fact Willie never had a season where he was a plus on the plus/minus scale. Collectively he was -203 in his career!

Huber was an awful skater. Going forwards he was alright because of his long stride. But he could barely skate backwards and he turned like a 747 airplane! He had difficulty reading the oncoming rush and often strayed out of position. And despite his impressive size, he was anything but an aggressive player.

Born in Germany but raised in Canada since the age of 10 months, Willie must have been a frustrating player for his coaches. He had lots of offensive talent, and unmatchable size especially at that time. Yet his defensive shortcomings and his wild inconsistencies must have drove his coaches nuts!

Being so big, Huber had to battle a natural weight problem. He was a little more mobile if he could stay around 225lbs. In fact it was said that the Rangers included a clause in his contract that if he could keep his weight down to that 225lb level, he would receive a $10,000 bonus!

Willie was drafted 9th overall by the Wings in 1978 and enjoyed 4 14+ goal season in his 5 years in Detroit. However he was traded to New York Rangers in 1983. Although he never put up good numbers in New York, he was counted on as an offensive defenseman. He played 5 seasons before youngsters like James Patrick, Brian Leetch and Terry Carkner came along and made Big Willie expendable.

The Rangers moved Willie to Vancouver early in the 1987-88 season but he finished the year in Philadelphia. That proved to be his final stop in the NHL. The Flyers offered him a one year contract with a significant pay cut. Huber was insulted and held out the entire 1988-89 season, hoping a better contact would come. He retired at the conclusion of the season.

16 comments:

Anonymous,  4:48 PM  

LOL @ awful skater comment.
This will be a great weapon for me to attack him with.
I know him personally and I think it's lovely to see he's wasn't as great as he thinks he was.
:)

lifelong wingsfan 12:50 AM  

One of the worst draft picks in Red Wing history. Slow, awkward clumsy skater. Horrible on defense. Have no clue as to what detroit saw in this lumox

Anonymous,  2:14 PM  

We like to refer to that dark age of Red Wing hockey simply as "The Willie Huber Years". Every long-time Wings fan knows exactly what we are talking about!

Anonymous,  3:19 PM  

What a great guy! Too bad for anonymous and lifelong wingsfan. Which team(s) did either of you play for and how long? Yep, I thought so! If he wasn't any good he would never have played for 10+ YEARS!!!

SUCK IT UP BOYS!!

P.S. I HAVE KNOWN HIM FOR OVER 35 YEARS AND HAVE NEVER HEARD HIM BRAG/BOAST ABOUT HOW GOOD HE WAS!!!

Anonymous,  10:25 PM  

I can't tell you who I am, but I know him just as well as you.

He has boasted and bragged before, that is until you bring up his penalty minutes compared to game time minutes. Hah.

Anonymous,  11:11 AM  

Anonymous ... I doubt that very much, unless you are a family member as you sound about 10 years old. If he did brag/boast to you - he had every right too - as I said before, he made the NHL and YOU DID NOT!!!!

mikewings11 9:26 PM  

I first heard of Willie Huber when I started collecting 80s hockey cards.I'm 29 now, but sadly missed most of the 80s NHL.I like Willie Huber, and if you ever read this Willie, know that you have a fan in me!! Once a Wing always a Wing. Best of luck in life and know that Hockeytown never forgets one of there own.

Sincerely, Mike "Go Wings 2010"

brett 2:22 PM  

It's with a sad hear that I post the passing of Willie Huber on June 28, 2010 in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.
The man was a gentle giant, he was a great friend and to set the record straight he never boasted about hockey accomplishments, he told some fascinating stories each and every one I could listen to again and again. He played successfully for more that 10 years in the NHL, having been through 14 different knee surgeries, not sure many of us could accomplish what he did.

He was a warm and fun sole with flaws like all of us. He was great friend and it's with such a heavy heart that I say I'll miss you so much and forever "Big Fella"

Iglooman 3:52 PM  

He passed away this morning in Hamilton he was 52 years old.

In Her Shoes 7:41 PM  

SAM-y Big Willie Style.

Anonymous,  7:56 PM  

He was the best man in our wedding..i will miss him RIP willie

Anonymous,  9:02 PM  

Ihave know Willie Huber for a short period of time i am very sad of his passing but for the short time that i have known him he had aways put a smile on my face.Never bragged about how good he played. But always talk about the hole team.Hockey was his life but yet his life was cut to short.Each time i watch Hockey i will always remember his love for Hockey.

Clay 11:40 AM  

We wish to offer our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the immediate family, associates and many friends of Big Willie Huber upon his departure from the scene.

COLONEL77

Mark,  5:33 AM  

Willie was one of my closest friends and a fantastic human being in every way. He never once in the years I knew him boasted about his career in any way. He was humble, generous, easy going and always there for his friends and family when they needed him. I will miss him more than words can say. And to those with nothing better to do than disrespect a man after his passing, get a life and grow up. You disgust me and everyone who reads this. RIP Willie, let me know what the Fnortons look like in heaven!

Mark

Anonymous,  6:02 PM  

A wonderful man who loved life, his family, wife Dawn, son Zachary, step-daughter Brittany and many friends. He is missed beyond words.

Fred Gieseler,  8:05 PM  

Bad English in this article and others. Willie Huber must have DRIVEN his coach nuts, not DROVE him nuts.

It's "anyway", not "anyways".

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