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Dale Rolfe
Dale Rolfe
Defenseman
Number: 3
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 210
Shoots: Left
Born: Apr 30, 1940
Birthplace: Timmins, ON, Canada
Hometown: Timmins, Ontario
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Acquired: Traded to Detroit by Los Angeles with Gary Croteau and Larry Johnston for Garry Monahan, Matt Ravlich and Brian Gibbons on February 20, 1970.
Dale Rolfe was a forward until he arrived to play junior hockey with the Barrie Flyers of the OHA in 1956. Under the direction of coach Hap Emms, however, his big, lanky frame was moved back to the blueline to serve and protect his future brother-in-law, goaltender Wayne Rutledge.

Afterwards, Rolfe turned pro with the Boston Bruins' organization in 1959-60. He got a three-game tryout in Beantown, but was sent to the minors by coach Milt Schmidt who questioned Rolfe's commitment to work hard with consistency.

The move proved to be quite a stumbling block to his NHL aspirations. He tumbled his way across the Bruins' minor-league chain with stops in Kingston, Portland, and Hershey until a near-death blow was dealt to his career. He was traded to Eddie Shore's Springfield Indians.

In Springfield, players were taught to play a great defensive game by Shore, a man who was a master of the position in his day. But the price of admission was to be an indentured servant. Players on Shore's team were expected to collect tickets at the turn-styles and to clean up the rink after the game - all for a tiny annual stipend. Rolfe once remarked that the donut sellers made more money than the players did.

On the Indians' blueline, Rolfe was paired with future NHLer and fellow prisoner Bill White. Both players knew that they were better than many of the rearguards who were in the NHL at that time. But Shore wouldn't allow either player to go to the big tent unless he received a small mountain of cash and a pile of minor-league players. No offers came through.

Rolfe endured the situation for four seasons and was contemplating his retirement as a form of escape. In the end, though, the Indians were sold to the expansion Los Angeles Kings. At last, Rolfe was free to return to the NHL. He joined the Kings' blueline corps in 1967 and lasted until 1970 when he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings. In the Motor City questions about Rolfe's self-discipline continued to be raised. It was observed that he had a tendency to skate like a madman to make the team at training camp and then taper off as the season progressed. As a result, his stay in a Wings' sweater was short. He was traded to the New York Rangers in 1971.

With the Rangers, Rolfe really found his NHL legs. There were no more questions raised about his commitment. He became a pillar on defense, especially during any playoff action.

His most infamous moment came during a playoff game in 1974 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers were intimidating Ranger players all night. At one point, they were zeroing in on defenseman Brad Park. Rolfe had seen enough. He stepped in to support his defenisve partner when he found himself squared off against Dave "The Hammer" Schultz. Before Rolfe could even react, his knees were already buckling under the weight of a severe beating. None of his Ranger teammates came to his aid.

Rolfe survived the drubbing to play one final season. In the 42nd game of the 1974-75 campaign, however, he crashed into the boards, feet first and suffered a severe ankle break that ended his career.

Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame

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