Len Lunde

This is Len Lunde. He was a solid second or third line checker with some play making ability. His professional hockey career would last 18 seasons, taking him all over the world, but only 321 times did he participate in a NHL game. Given how hard it was to crack a NHL line up in the days of the Original Six, this was no small feat.

The Campbell River, BC born Lunde was a dominant scorer in junior, starring with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the mid 1950s.

A prospect of the Detroit Red Wings, Lunde would remain in Edmonton for the first two years of his professional career, playing with the WHL Edmonton Flyers. Though hockey would take Lunde far, far away beginning in 1958, Edmonton had become his home. One day, long after retiring as a hockey player, he would play a big role in the Edmonton Oilers success in the 1980s.

After an impressive 1957-58 season with the Flyers, where he scored 39 goals in 67 games, Lunde got his shot at the NHL. Lunde joined the Red Wings for four years starting in 1958-59. He proved to be a steady utility player who helped the Wings reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1961. He was far from spectacular though. His goal scoring totals in his four seasons in Detroit were 14, 6, 6 and 2.

In the summer of 1962 he was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks. He found a nice home on a checking line with Eric Nesterenko and Ron Murphy, scoring 28 points.

The following season Lunde began a long career in the minors. Aside from brief appearances with Chicago and Minnesota in the NHL, Lunde starred with teams like the Buffalo Bisons (AHL), Portland Buckaroos (WHL) and Vancouver Canucks (WHL).

When the Canucks joined the NHL in 1970, Lunde returned to the league. Unfortunately for him, he only was able to participate in 20 games.

The Canucks had brought in Finnish hockey legend Lasse Oksanen to training camp in September, 1970, introducing Lunde to a few Finnish contacts. Lunde spent the 1972 and 1973 seasons playing in Finland with Ilves Tampere, while also coaching the Finnish national team.

Lunde loved his time in Sweden, but he had to make a tough decision that was best for his family. At the time there was inadequate English schooling in Finland, so he returned to Canada after getting an offer to play hockey with the WHA Edmonton Oilers.

Although he scored 26 goals in 71 games with the WHA Oilers, he hung up the blades after that season. He honed his coaching skills by spending the next two years developing a hockey program for Native Canadians on a reserve near Edmonton.

Calls from Europe continued to entice Lunde. He returned to Europe, specifically Sweden this time, where he coached and also acted as a scout for the Edmonton Oilers, now of the National Hockey League. The Oilers were one of first teams to really exploit Europe in the early 1980s. Lunde played a big role in finding and monitoring many of them, including Esa Tikkanen, Risto Siltanen and Jari Kurri.

Tired of all the travel, Lunde settled down in 1983. He returned to Edmonton and got into the leasing business.


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