Reed Larson

Reed Larson ranks as one of the greatest American born and raised hockey players in the history of the sport. That being said, he is rarely recognized as such. This is partly because his career pre-dated the generation of American stars that first gained acclaim in the NHL, players like Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull and Chris Chelios.

Reed Larson's hockey sense was uncanny, as he could read plays develop better than most players. He was a top offensive defenseman throughout the early 1980s, thanks largely to his effective shot. He would score many goals in his career, and many of his assists were a result of rebounds or deflections from his booming point shot.

Larson, a Minneapolis, Minnesota native, who starred in Minnesota high school hockey and later at the University of Minnesota before leaving school early to join the Detroit Red Wings in 1977. Though he left university early, he always cherished his time as an amateur. He led the team to a national championship in his second year, and he should have won another but his school was upset by Michigan Tech.

Larson was drafted 22nd overall by the Red Wings in 1976 but returned to school after he couldn't agree on a contract with the Wings. However when Reed was suspended from WCHA competition for the rest of the season after assaulting an on-ice official, Larson decided to join the Red Wings with 14 games left in the NHL season.

Reed proved he was ready for the NHL almost from day one as he embarked upon one of the greatest hockey careers any American defenseman has ever had. He finished as runner-up in the NHL rookie of the year race thanks to an impressive 19 goal, 60 point season. That was just a sign of great things to come. Over the next nine years as a Red Wing, the smooth skating defenseman amazingly never scored fewer than 17 goals or 58 points! Those totals included five consecutive 20-plus goal seasons including a career high 27 in 1980-81; and he had 8 of 9 seasons with over 60 pints, including a career high 74 in 1982-83. As a Red Wing he participated in three NHL all star games, as well as the 1981 Canada Cup and 1981 world championships.

A late season trade in 1986 saw Larson become a member of the Boston Bruins, where he played for parts of three seasons. It was with Boston that Reed tallied his 200th NHL goal, a milestone for defenseman and the single most celebrated statistic in his career.. He was the first American and only the 6th NHL player to reach the lofty level.

A serious auto accident occurred prior to the 1988-89 season, leaving serious nerve damage in his left arm. It was terrible timing for Larson as Reed had no NHL contract at the time. Reed did make a comeback for the 1989-90 season, splitting the season with Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders and Minnesota North Stars. He admittedly was not at 100% health.

Larson left the NHL to play in Italy for 5 years starting in 1989-90. Reed left, admittedly early, largely because of his health. He did return to the NHL for a one game appearance as a member of the Buffalo Sabres at the conclusion of the Italian 1989-90 season, but he returned to the country where he would be a standout for 5 seasons, scoring 65 goals and 150 assists for 215 points in 159 games.

In 1996 Reed Larson became a deserving member of the United States hockey hall of fame. He scored a total of 222 goals, 463 assists and 685 points in 904 NHL games. He got into just 32 NHL playoff contests, scoring 4 goals and 11 points.


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