The Summit in 1974

Club 1974:
Chicago Cougars

Ralph Backstrom
# 14, Team CANADA 1974

Club: Chicago Cougars
Position: C  Shoots: Left
Height: 5-10 Weight: 165
Born: 9/18/1937 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario

Ralph Backstrom was a unique player. He was a dazzling skater, with a deft scoring touch who could also play hard-nosed, tough hockey without resorting to fighting or drawing penalties. He was always considered to be among the classiest players in any league he played.

He won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1958-59 with the Montreal Canadiens. Ralph would continue to be a key member of the Canadiens' "juggernaut" of the 1960's. Ralph at times though was frustrated. Even in years when he led the powerful Montreal squads in scoring he was always the teams' 3rd line center behind Henri Richard, and Jean Beliveau. Many people thought the reason for that was the Canadien's didn't want an English center playing in front of two top French speaking players. Ralph would be traded to the Los Angeles Kings late in the 1970-71 season and two years later be sent to the Chicago Black Hawks where he helped the Hawks reach the Stanley Cup finals in the spring of 1973. Later that same summer Ralph jumped to the WHA Chicago Cougars. Playing in the more offensive oriented WHA Ralph turned in an outstanding season in 1973-74, scoring 33 goals and adding 50 assists. He was a tower of strength for the Cougars in the playoffs leading them to huge upsets of the New England Whalers, and Toronto Toros, before bowing to the powerful Houston Aeros in the Avco World Trophy finals.

He was named to Team Canada 74 and many experts felt he would be a key member of the team. To be successful in International hockey one had to be a fine skater, and be able to control their emotions. Ralph did not disappoint. For most of the series, he centered Team Canada's 2nd line along with Mark and Gordie Howe. He killed penalties, worked the power play, and was dangerous offensively almost every time he was on the ice. In the final two games of the series, with "everything on the line" Ralph raised his game to an even higher level, and scored 3 goals along with 3 assists. He finished the series with 4 goals, and 4 assists, and many long time hockey observers said he may have played the finest hockey of his career in the 4 Moscow games.

He would play 3 more seasons in the WHA before retiring at the end of the 1976-77 season as a member of the New England Whalers. In December of his final season he led the Whalers to a stunning 5-2 upset of the dominant Soviet National team in the 1st game of the Soviets 8 game WHA tour.


  Career Statistics
Competitions GP G A PTS PIM
NHL Reg. Season 1032 278 361 639 386
NHL Playoffs 116 27 32 59 68
WHA Reg. Season 304 100 153 253 104
WHA Playoffs 38 10 18 28 12


- Played in the professional hockey leagues: 1956-77
- Pro hockey clubs:
NHL: Montreal, Los Angeles, Chicago; WHA: Chicago Cougars, Denver, New England
- Stanley Cups (4): 1960, 1965, 1966, 1969
- NHL awards:
Calder Memorial Trophy 1959
- WHA awards:
Paul Deneau Trophy (Most Gentlemanly Player) 1974


GP Goals Assists Points PIM
8 3 4 7 10

  Scoring History
Game 2104:31Goal 
Game 4104:20Assist 
Game 5212:15Assist 
Game 7202:55Goal 
Game 7206:38AssistPPG
Game 7306:38GoalGTG
Game 8101:47Assist 
Game 8312:42Goal 

  Penalties History
Game 5304:3710-minute misconduct




The Summit in 1974