Growing up in the sparsely-populated area of Haliburton, young Ron Stackhouse had little else to entertain himself with than to dream about a career in professional hockey. He watched the Leafs play on Saturday nights and savoured every chance to see his hero, Frank Mahovlich, take his patented long strides up the ice.
Stackhouse took a serious step towards fulfilling his dream when he joined the Peterborough Petes of the OHA in 1967. In his second season with the club, the mobile rearguard won Second-Team All-Star status and, under coach Roger Neilson, had the unusual distinction of replacing his goalie in order to face a penalty shot. Neilson had discovered there was no rule to prevent him from pulling the distracting stunt that, executed by the bewildered Stackhouse, worked to legendary effect.
As a second-round pick of the California Golden Seals in 1969, he headed west to try out with the club. But coach Fred Glover felt that the young blueliner needed some seasoning. As such, he was sent to play for the Providence Reds of the AHL where, after a string of bad games, the fans wanted to run him out of town. When the team failed to make the playoffs, that's precisely what the team did. He was lent to the Seattle Totems of the WHL where he redeemed himself during the playoffs.
In 1970-71, Stackhouse joined the Seals on a full-time basis. He was paired with Carol Vadnais and the duo clicked. From that point on, he began to solidify all aspects of his game. He played with an offensive orientation, could skate well for a big man, possessed a solid, low shot from the point, and grew to become a fearless shot-blocker.
Early in his second campaign with the club, the Seals couldn't resist making a grab for the offensively prolific Tom Webster. As an exchange, they sent Stackhouse to Detroit where he continued to improve his game during each of his winters in the Motor City. His place on the roster seemed secure, however, until he had a mysterious falling out with the club's management?a conflict he never fully understood. Nonetheless, he was dispatched in short order to Pittsburgh in 1974.
With the Pens, Stackhouse reached the peak of his blueline proficiency. He became a mainstay on the club's backline over the seven-and-a-half seasons that followed. But in spite of his solid play, there was little that was harmonious about his time in Pittsburgh. The fans at the Igloo wanted to see big players, like Stackhouse, hit everybody that moved with the intent to destroy. Anything less was met with choruses of boos and catcalls. It was not in the beleaguered rearguard's nature to do anymore physically than was necessary to secure his zone.
As a result, he frequently asked to be moved to another NHL locale. But through the long, arduous years, a deal was never struck. Instead, he put in his time until retirement came at the close of the 1981-82 season.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame