Like any deadly sniper, John Ogrodnick snuck into town quietly, took care of his business, then went on his way.
"Johnny O" was not one to brag, even though he had plenty to brag about.
"He was a great scorer," former Wings coach Jacques Demers said of Ogrodnick. "He could score from any angle 10 feet inside the blueline." Ogrodnick's key to success was a powerful slapshot.
At 16, he scored 54 goals in 67 games for the Maple Ridge Bruins of the B.C. Junior League. The following season, Ogrodnick tallied 59 times for the WHL's New Westminster Bruins. He added another 48 goals in 1978-79 and was touted as a sure first-rounder in the 1979 NHL entry draft.
The big left-winger slid all the way to the fourth round, though, where the Wings got him with the 66th choice.
"I was disappointed," Ogrodnick remembered of draft day. "They said I might be a first-round pick. My agent (Art Kaminsky) told me there was no way I'd be worse than a second-rounder.
The setback was temporary and Ogrodnick employed it as motivation, an opportunity to prove the experts wrong.
He tallied 35 goals in 1980-81, launching six straight seasons as Detroit's leading goal scorer, earning the first of five selections to play in the NHL All-Star Game. He scored 41 goals in 1981-82 and 42 the following season, then hit the mother lode in 1984-85.
Ogrodnick piled up a club-record 55 goals, joining Mickey Redmond and Danny Grant in Detroit's exclusive 50-goal club. His 105 points also put Ogrodnick in heady company. Gordie Howe and Marcel Dionne were the only Red Wings who'd previously recorded 100-point campaigns.
"If you look back at my record, you can't say I had one fluke year and scored 40 goals," Ogrodnick said. "I averaged 40 goals for six seasons."
Ogrodnick was selected to the NHL's First All-Star Team and was voted as the starting left-winger for the NHL All-Star Game alongside Edmonton stars Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri.
"He deserves it," Gretzky said. "John's a great player."
Slipping to 38 goals in 1985-86 Ogrodnick was dealt to Quebec in a six-player deal on January 12, 1987.
"It's part of the business," he said of being traded. "When a team has been in a losing situation, somebody comes in and cleans house." Ogrodnick later played for the New York Rangers and made a 19-game comeback with the Wings in 1992-93, his final NHL season.
"I look back and believe it or not, I wish I could have done more," said Ogrodnick, who still resides in suburban Detroit and works as an investment counselor with a local brokerage firm.
Ottawa, Ontario, June 20, 1959
Selected 66th overall in the August 9, 1979 NHL entry draft
BEST SEASON WITH RED WINGS:
TOTALS WITH RED WINGS:
GP-558, G-265, A-281, PTS-546
Selected to NHL First All-Star Team, 1984-85; Played in five NHL All-Star Games; Led club in goals for six seasons; Led club in points, 1982-83, 1984-85; Played for Canada, 1981 World Championship