Monday

Ross Lonsberry

When the Philadelphia Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1974, guess who head coach Fred Shero declared was the Flyers most valuable player of the championship season? Bobby Clarke? Reggie Leach? Bernie Parent?

Try Ross Lonsberry, a long forgotten 5'11" 195lb left winger who scored 32 goals that season and another 4 in 17 playoff games.

"I knew Lonsberry would be good because I've seen him play for ten years," said Shero. "But he's been unbelievable this year. He has more stamina than Bobby Clarke, and he's been the key man in a lot of games. He's done everything for us."

"Roscoe" joined the Flyers late in the 1972 season, part of a big eight player trade with the Los Angeles Kings. He quickly endeared himself to coach Shero in a role as a top defensive forward, while still being able to score big goals.


Ever the team player, Lonsberry dismissed coach Shero's high praise of him.

"No way it's me. It has to be Clarkie. We have no stars. We're all equal. A lot of teams look to one or two guys, like Orr and Esposito of Boston, for the big goal when they fall behind. But with the Flyers, the winning goal might come from anyone.

Lonsberry often played on a line with Rick MacLeish and Gary Dornhoefer. His job was often to shut down the league's top right wingers like Yvan Cournoyer and Rod Gilbert. Lonsberry never considered himself to be a true defensive forward.

""Anybody can be a defensive forward. You can just skate beside your man and look at him all night. You're not using your brain. If he makes you adjust to his style, he's playing a good game. I want my man thinking that he has to guard me, too. The trick is to make the other team adjust to you."

Born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan in 1947, Lonsberry was originally property of the Boston Bruins. He played three seasons in the farm system, never quite cracked the Bruins line up.

In the summer of 1969 the Bruins traded Lonsberry to Los Angeles after an unfortunate incident in the 1969 playoffs. Lonsberry was playing for the Oklahoma in the CHL and his team had just been eliminated from the playoffs. Lonsberry was taking the loss especially hard, so hard that when the Bruins called the same night to call him up for their own playoff run, he was so dejected he actually told the Bruins no.

"I was down in the dumps that night and said, 'No, thanks,'" remembered Lonsberry. "I remember it was a Saturday and the Bruins were not going to play until the following Wednesday. I regretted it the next day and tried to call back, but I couldn't reach them. I guess it made me kind of a controversial figure and it got me out of their organization."

Lonsberry found full time NHL employment in sunny California, registering back to back 20 goal seasons for the Kings.

"The travel is brutal for any player in LA, but other than that, I loved the West Coast," he said. "I'd be lying if I said the weather didn't make me lose interest at times - not during a game but maybe at eight in the morning when I had to get up for practice."

One place Lonsberry didn't seem to like playing too much was another West Coast city, Vancouver. Twice he was in court in BC - once with LA for an off ice incident where he was found guilty and fined $50, and once with Philadelphia where he was acquitted in an infamous exchanged between the Flyers and Canucks fans in the stands.

Lonsberry, winner of the 1973 Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and sportsmanship, was traded to cross-state rivals Pittsburgh Penguins in 1978. He rounded out his career with three more seasons in Pittsburgh.

When all was said and done Ross Lonsberry put together a career resume that boasted 956 career games with 256 goals and 310 assists for 566 points. He added another 21 goals and 46 points in 100 playoff games.

4 comments:

Anonymous,  8:13 AM  

Ross is going thru some TOUGH medical situations right now and it would be wonderful if some of the fans could send him a message to cheer him up and root him on.
Thanks....

Anonymous,  7:29 AM  

May you feel God's presence in your trying times.

Anonymous,  2:01 PM  

Godspeed, Ross. You have always been a warrior. I don't know what you're fighting right now, but I'm sure you will beat it.

Anonymous,  6:06 PM  

I saw Ross in Philly in March 2012.He signed a bunch of Bullies stuff I have.He looked great.And says he is feeling 100 percent better.

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