Dale McCourt

Dale Allen McCourt, a native of Falconbridge, Ontario (born January 26, 1957), is a former professional ice hockey forward. He was drafted first overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft.[1]

Dale McCourt
Born (1957-01-26) January 26, 1957
Falconbridge, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Right
Played for Detroit Red Wings
Buffalo Sabres
Toronto Maple Leafs
HC Ambrì-Piotta
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1977
Detroit Red Wings
WHA Draft 35th overall, 1977
Indianapolis Racers
Playing career 19771991

Junior hockey

McCourt played major junior in the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA, renamed OMJHL during his tenure, today's OHL). As a 15 year old, he was already playing Tier II junior hockey when called up by the Sudbury Wolves for part of the 1972–73 OHA season. He joined the Hamilton Red Wings for the full 1973–74 OHA season, and was team captain by the time the (renamed) Hamilton Fincups won the 1975–76 OMJHL Championship and then the national 1976 Memorial Cup championship.

In 1976–77, McCourt led the relocated St. Catharines Fincups as the team won the OMJHL Regular Season Championship. That season, McCourt was awarded the Red Tilson Trophy as the league's Most Outstanding Player, and was voted the nationwide CHL Player of the Year. Dale was also awarded the William Hanley Trophy as the OMJHL's Most Sportsmanlike Player in both 1975–76 and 1976–77.

In the 1977 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, McCourt scored 18 points, a Canadian record he shares with Brayden Schenn and one point more than Eric Lindros and Wayne Gretzky.

McCourt was drafted 1st overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft. He made an impression on the Detroit Red Wings, after being the first NHL amateur pick in 1977. He successfully scored 33 goals in the first year with the team. He was entitled to NHL rookie of the year with the Red Wings.[2]

Professional career

McCourt led the Red Wings in scoring during his 1977–78 rookie season, finishing second only to Calder Memorial Trophy winner Mike Bossy for rookie scoring in the NHL that year.

Before the start of the 1978–79 season, Red Wings general manager Ted Lindsay signed Rogatien Vachon of the Los Angeles Kings, who was a restricted free agent at that time. An NHL arbitrator ruled that McCourt should be the compensation paid the Kings for Vachon's loss, but McCourt refused to report to the Kings. Ultimately, this led to McCourt suing the NHL, National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), the Red Wings and Kings in order to prohibit being sent to the Los Angeles Kings as a part of any compensation package. During this lawsuit, McCourt remained playing for the Red Wings, finishing the season second in Red Wing scoring (behind by only two points) for 1978-79. The matter was resolved and McCourt remained in Detroit, but he felt betrayed by the fact that his own NHLPA, led by Executive Director Alan Eagleson (convicted in 1998 after years of embezzling from the NHLPA members), did not back him against the owners during the lawsuit.[3] His legal case created a huge impact on sport and was the first sports case to challenge the antitrust laws during the bargaining agreement.[4]


McCourt continued to be the Red Wings top scorer in both his third (1979–80) and fourth (1980–81) seasons. Despite this, and while leading the team in scoring a third of the way through the 1981–82 season, management did not feel he had achieved their overall expectations, trading McCourt to the Buffalo Sabres in December 1981having produced at a point-a-game pace during his time with the Red Wings but failing to make the playoffs for three of his four years with the team. He played with Buffalo, before being claimed on waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs in October 1983, finishing his NHL career at the end of that 1983–84 NHL season, with 478 points in 532 games played.

McCourt then played for 6 seasons for HC Ambrì-Piotta, in the top Swiss league. Ambrì-Piotta retired McCourt's number 15 jersey.

Hockey family

McCourt's brother Dan was an NHL linesman during the 1980s and early 1990s.

McCourt's uncle is Hockey Hall of Fame member George Armstrong. Armstrong won the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHA's Most Outstanding Player in both 1947–48 and 1949–50, the same award that McCourt received in 1976–77. Armstrong was the coach of the Toronto Marlboros when they won the national Memorial Cup Championship in 1973 and 1975, the same championship that McCourt won as a player with the Hamilton Fincups in 1976.

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1972–73Welland SabresSOJHL3435286339
1972–73Sudbury WolvesOHA-Jr.2661117040110
1973–74Hamilton Red WingsOHA-Jr.6920385845
1974–75Hamilton FincupsOMJHL69527412657171017270
1975–76Hamilton FincupsOMJHL66558413919142082812
1975–76Hamilton FincupsM-Cup30442
1976–77St. Catharines FincupsOMJHL6660791392614713206
1977–78Detroit Red WingsNHL763339721074262
1978–79Detroit Red WingsNHL7928437114
1979–80Detroit Red WingsNHL8030518112
1980–81Detroit Red WingsNHL8030568650
1981–82Detroit Red WingsNHL261314276
1981–82Buffalo SabresNHL522022421242350
1982–83Buffalo SabresNHL6220325210103254
1983–84Buffalo SabresNHL51340
1983–84Toronto Maple LeafsNHL7219244310
1984–85HC Ambrì-PiottaNDB40332659
1985–86HC Ambrì-PiottaNDA3242175922
1986–87HC Ambrì-PiottaNDA3625285342552720
1987–88HC Ambrì-PiottaNDA3629204922666124
1988–89HC Ambrì-PiottaNDA364124653961450
1989–90HC Ambrì-PiottaNDA281826442620000
1990–91HC Ambrì-PiottaNDA3519143358
1991–92HC Ambrì-PiottaNDA54152
NHL totals 532 194 284 478 124 21 9 7 16 6
NDA totals 208 178 130 308 211 19 12 12 24 24


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1977 Canada WJC 7 10 8 18 14
1979 Canada WC 7 0 1 1 6
1981 Canada WC 4 1 0 1 2
Junior totals 7 10 8 18 14
Senior totals 11 1 1 2 8

Awards and honors


  1. Shaw, Warren. "The Dale McCourt Saga: The Beginning Of The End Of Team Loyalty". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  2. "Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Dale McCourt". www.legendsofhockey.net. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  3. "The Ups and Downs of Dale McCourt". TSN. 2016-12-24. 3:03 min:sec mark. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  4. Berry, Robert C.; Gould, William B.; Staudohar, Paul D. (1986). Labor Relations in Professional Sports. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780865691377.
  5. Collins gem Hockey Facts and Stats 2009–10, p.510, Andrew Podnieks, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, Toronto, Canada, ISBN 978-1-55468-621-6
Preceded by
Fred Williams
Detroit Red Wings first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Willie Huber
Preceded by
Rick Green
NHL first overall draft pick
Succeeded by
Bobby Smith
Preceded by
Peter Lee
CHL Player of the Year
Succeeded by
Bobby Smith
Preceded by
Paul Woods
Detroit Red Wings captain
Succeeded by
Errol Thompson
Reed Larson
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