Monday, September 09, 2013

Obscure Flyers profile: Tim Tookey

Thanks to sports-cards.bidstart.com
by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

When the Philadelphia Flyers were decimated by a raft of injuries both short-and-long-term by the second round of the 1987 playoffs, who were they gonna call?

No, not Ghostbusters.

A bunch of old heads and young turks from the Hershey Bears.

One of the former was Tim Tookey, a journeyman who bounced back and forth (mostly back) between the NHL and American Hockey League for nearly a decade and who was about to settle into a role as the veteran presence on the Hershey Bears -- then the Flyers' primary minor-league affiliate.

His 10-game stint lasting from the Islanders series, through the Wales Conference Finals against Montreal, and then into the Stanley Cup Finals with Edmonton, was a stabilizing force in the quest for the title that season.

"When they called us up, we were told that we'll stay in shape with the idea that we could be used if they needed us," Tookey said at the time. "Nobody looked at it like it was their big break."

It was the least he could do, given his most famous moment as an NHL player took place at the expense of the team which needed his services at a crucial time.

When the Washington Capitals welcomed the Cooperalled version of the Philadelphia Flyers to the Capital Centre on November 21, 1981, in the front end of a home-and-home series, Tookey was a 21-year-old trying to crack a lineup chock full of young talent. Alongside him on the roster were third-year sniper Mike Gartner, rookie sensations Bobby Carpenter and Chris Valentine, Ryan Walter, Bengt Gustafsson and Glen Currie.

On that Saturday night, the Caps bombed the Orange and Black by a 10-4 count and Tookey tormented starter Rick St. Croix for the first and only hat trick of his career by scoring once in a four-goal first period and twice more in a four-goal second frame. It tied a still-standing record for largest margin of victory by the Capitals over the Flyers in any game, playoff or regular season. That outburst accounted for 37.5 percent of his output on the year -- only eight goals and 16 points in 29 games -- before disappearing to Hershey which was then the Caps' affiliate.

Tookey then logged 20 games in the NHL with Quebec and Pittsburgh before signing as a free agent with the Bears in the Summer of 1985. Despite ripping the league to the tune of 86 goals and 221 points over the next two years, he only received a two-game call-up in the Winter of 1987 without scoring a point.


By the time the postseason rolled around, the Flyers were a MASH unit. Tied 1-1 heading to Uniondale for Game 3, Ron Sutter, Murray Craven and captain Dave Poulin were all sidelined, so Tookey, Al Hill and Don Nachbaur got the call. Hill scored the first goal of the game and received a 40-stitch cut from Denis Potvin's stick for his efforts, then Tookey received the lone helper on Brian Propp's tally midway through regulation of a 4-1 win.

Two nights later, he assisted on a tying tally from Hill late in the first period and scored his first goal with Philadelphia in a three-goal second, galvanizing a 6-4 victory and 3-1 stranglehold on the series.

"Hindsight says we should have had him up sooner," Flyers General Manager Bobby Clarke said in a piece the following day in the Daily News. "But most of the time Ron Sutter was the center who was out, so we wanted a more physical center like Don Nachbaur up instead."

The 26-year-old, who was ready to bust out his guitar and play bars and clubs for a living, suddenly was a pivot point for the offense of the second-best team in the league.

With Tookey in the lineup, the Flyers finished with a record of 6-4. He only managed one more assist, in a Game 3 win at Montreal in the Wales Conference Finals, but it was a big one, a primary helper on a Pelle Eklund tally which tied the game at 2-2 after Philly trailed 2-0 at intermission.

His final appearance in a Flyers uniform was a 4-2 loss in the Cup opener at Edmonton on May 17, 1987. Still, it was a dream come true for the native of Alberta's capital, who gushed: "I'm kind of in awe still. Holy cow, this is where I grew up and everything. It's hard to explain the feeling."

With other, younger talent on the horizon, Tookey was lost in the waiver draft the following September, playing 27 games for the LA Kings and 44 with New Haven over the next two seasons, then took another spin with the Bears from 1989-94, establishing himself as a franchise fixture by putting up 401 points in 319 games.

Tookey now works in the sprinkler business back in Edmonton, but his legacy as a player is secure, still ranking as the third-highest scoring player in AHL history with 974 points. He returned to Dauphin County this past January to play in an alumni game at Hersheypark Stadium.
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