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2 Ontario Hockey League Players to Be Selected 1st Overall in the WHA

February 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 111

The World Hockey Association held an amateur draft in five of the seven years of the league's existence. The first year, there was a general draft and in the final year, the league dropped the draft, choosing instead to go after junior players directly to sign them as free agents (Rob Ramage, Mark Messier, Mike Gartner, etc.).

Of the five amateur drafts held by the WHA, all the first overall picks came from Canadian junior leagues. Two of the five were players from the Ontario Hockey League (OHA at the time).

In 1973, Bob Neely of the Peterborough Petes was taken first overall by the Chicago Cougars. Neely played OHA hockey for three seasons from 1970-71 to 1972-73. His first season was played with the Hamilton Red Wings. He was traded to the Peterborough Petes during his second season and finished off his junior career there.

In Bob's final season with the Petes, he contributed an impressive 76 points in just 55 games. Neely also sat out a whopping 304 minutes in penalties. This was a combination the WHA was certainly looking for.

However, Bob was also picked tenth overall in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Neely chose the NHL route and played parts of five seasons with the Leafs as well as 22 games with the Colorado Rockies in 1977-78. He finished out his hockey career with the AHL's New Brunswick Hawks in 1979-80. In all, Bob Neely played in 283 NHL regular seasons games and skated in an additional 26 in the playoffs.

Scott Campbell was a product of Bill Long's London Knights in the 1970's. Campbell was the last ever first overall pick in the WHA, taking the top seed in the 1977 draft. The Houston Aeros picked Campbell and he played the 1977-78 season with the team that was mostly famous for housing the Howe family.

Scott played three seasons with the London Knights from 1974-75 to 1976-77. In his final season, he scored 23 and totalled 67 from the blueline on a potent defense that included Rob Ramage and Brad Marsh.

After his year with the Aeros, Campbell played the final year of the WHA with the Winnipeg Jets. He followed the Jets into the NHL with the 1979-80 merger between the two leagues. Scott played a total of 77 games with Winnipeg over the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons and added another three games with the St. Louis Blues the following season before calling it a career. Interestingly, it was the Blues who picked Campbell in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft, ninth overall.

Tom is the author of (OHL Alumni Central). OHL Alumni Central is a daily updated blog featuring graduates of the Ontario Hockey League and their careers in professional hockey after leaving the OHL.

The centrepiece of is the OHL Alumni Big List. The Big List is an on-going database of the whereabouts of all the active OHL grads.

Source: EzineArticles
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Ontario Hockey League


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