Shakey Walton

Mike Walton was best known as "Shakey" a nickname that he inherited after his father, a hockey star in his own right back in England who would shake his head to deke out an opponent. Young Mike was blessed with the same great skill set, and probably better. After all, he went on to become a Stanley Cup champion.

Mike was one of those players billed with superstar qualities who never quite lived up to that. He played in the Toronto Junior league for the St. Michael's majors and Neil McNeil Maroons before playing for the Toronto Marlboros in the OHA.

Mike's first pro season came in the CHL for the Tulsa Oilers in 1964-65 where he was named CHL's rookie of the year, he also made the 1st All-Star team. The next season Mike was selected as the rookie of the year in the AHL while playing for the Rochester Americans. He also saw limited ice time in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing 31 games as one of the rare youngsters on the "Old Fellows Athletic Club" that captured the famous 1967 Stanley Cup championship.

By 1968-69 Mike established himself as sure NHLer when he scored 30 goals in his first full season. Those 30 goals would mark a career high for the Kirkland Lake, Ontario native.

Mike cracked the 20 goal plateau the following two seasons but his outgoing freestyle talking attitude wasn't very popular among the Maple Leafs management. That combined with their belief that he would get any better they traded him to Philadelphia on February 1, 1971. Philadelphia then shipped him to Boston that same day for Danny Schock and Rick MacLeish. The odd thing here is that he was traded on the advice of a psychiatrist named Dr. Ron Stokes. This might be the only time an NHL player has been traded with the help of a psychiatrist.

Mike felt more comfortable in Beantown and in his first full season with Boston he scored 28 goals and 56 pts. During the 1972-73 season Mike started very well, scoring 21 goals in his first 33 games, but then a bizarre accident happened in a St. Louis hotel. His team was to play against St. Louis and while the Bruins players were waiting for their bags to come up to their rooms some of them started fooling around on a balcony outside the room shared by Mike and Bobby Orr. One of the guys picked up a bucket of water that was on the balcony and tried to douse his teammates. Mike tried to get out of the way, tripped, and went through the plate glass doors that were there. He was cut from his chin to his knees and received over 200 stitches. He was stitched up by four doctors, lost five pints of blood needing a complete transfusion. One of the doctors even said that they almost lost him. Mike fully recovered and eventually finished the season with 25 goals and 47 pts in 56 games.

Mike was selected by Los Angeles Sharks in the 1972 WHA general draft, his rights were then traded to the Minnesota Fighting Saints. Minnesota managed to lure Mike over to the WHA and he was an instant hit, leading the league with 117 pts (57+60). He also led the league in playoff scoring (10 goals), making the 2nd All-Star team. The next season he had 93 pts and once again scored the most goals in the playoffs (10 goals). As most WHA clubs Minnesota ran into financial problems and eventually folded in March 1976. Mike had scored 71 pts in 58 games for Minnesota until they folded.

He finished the season playing for Vancouver who had made a trade with Boston earlier on. His most productive NHL season came during the 1977-78 season when he got 66 points, including 29 goals, in only 65 games for Vancouver.

By that time Mike was 33-years old and Vancouver felt that it was time to trade him while they still could get a good deal for him. He went to St. Louis where he only played 22 games before being picked up by Boston as a free agent on December 5, 1978. His second stint in Boston was even shorter, after only 14 games he was signed by Chicago as a free agent on January 22, 1979. Chicago was the last hurrah for him and he only played 26 games for the Blackhawks and 7 games for their AHL farm team New Brunswick before retiring 34-years old.

Mike was very good around the net, always dangerous. Longtime NHL goalie Glenn "Chico" Resch said " I've never run into anyone who's smarter around the net. He doesn't do the obvious. He comes at you a different way each time. "

His coach in Vancouver Phil Maloney described Walton. "He has good speed, especially in bursts. He makes good passes - at the right speed, to the right man, at the right time. Very alert around the net. Never turns his back on the play. "

Shakey was also quite the character. Hockey Night In Canada telecaster Harry Neale loves to tell the story of how once in Minnesota the Saints were waiting for the ice at a multi-purpose athletic facility. The Saints players waited in their equipment by a large window that overlooked a large swimming pool. Much to the surprise of everyone there, Shakey somehow managed to get into the pool area and to the top of the highest diving board. He then proceeded to jump into the water, wearing his full hockey equipment (minus the skates). Because the equipment soaked up so much water, Shakey had trouble getting back to the surface!

Mike scored 448 points (201 goals + 247 assists ) in 588 NHL games. He also had 210 points (105 goals + 105 assists) in 153 WHA games.


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