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Wayne Connelly
Wayne Connelly
Number: 17
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 170
Shoots: Right
Born: Dec 16, 1939
Birthplace: Rouyn, QC, Canada
Acquired: Traded to Detroit by Minnesota for Danny Lawson and the rights to Brian Conacher on February 15, 1969.
Wayne Connelly began his major junior hockey career as a member of the OHA's Kitchener Canucks in 1955-56 at the age of 16, appearing in nine games. The following season he played for the Peterborough TPT's, dressing for 52 games, scoring 18 goals and 37 points.

Connelly began his pro career with the Montreal Royals of the EPHL, playing 64 games, scoring 28 goals and 49 points. Late in 1960-61, he dressed for three games for the Montreal Canadiens.

The 1961-62 season was Connelly's rookie year in the NHL, when he played in 61 games for the Boston Bruins, collecting 21 points. Connelly was inserted into the Bruins' lineup for about half the games in each of the next two seasons. For two years, he played exclusively in the WHL with the San Francisco Seals. In 1965-66, he put up strong offensive numbers, scoring 45 goals and 86 points in 72 games. It was that production which earned him another look from the Bruins, who elevated him to full-time status with the club in 1966-67. He had 13 goals and 30 points in 64 games.

With the advent of expansion, Connelly was selected by the Minnesota North Stars for the 1967-68 campaign. He had the distinction of being the first NHL player to have jumped to the new rival league. In 74 games, he scored an NHL career-high 35 goals and 56 points. Midway through the following season, Connelly was traded to the Detroit Red Wings where he played for a just over a year and had a career-high 59 points in 1969-70 before being dealt to the St. Louis Blues. He found himself on the move again early in the 1971-72 season, being sent to the Vancouver Canucks.

The arrival of the WHA gave options to many players such as Connelly, who opted to try his luck with the fledgling league, signing a lucrative contract with the Minnesota Fighting Saints, which was guaranteed through the first three years. Minnesota was also the offseason home for Connelly and his family. In his first season, he scored 40 goals and 70 points in 78 games, finding the wide-open style to his liking. In 193-74, he improved on those statistics, scoring 42 goals and 95 points. He once scored five goals in one game, which tied the league record. On that magical evening, Connelly provided all of Minnesota's scoring in a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Stingers. Connelly joined the Cleveland Crusaders in 1975-76. However, his tenure lasted just 12 games, before he was back in a Saints uniform for the final 59 games of the season.

Connelly's final WHA season was split between the Calgary Cowboys and the Edmonton Oilers. His biggest regret during his nine years in the NHL was not getting the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. The closest chance came in 1968, when the North Stars lost a tough deciding seventh game in the semifinals.

Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame


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