Dan Maloney, Rick Green and Dennis Wideman are officially members of the Don Brankley London Knights Hall of Fame as the class of 2023.
The three former Knights and National Hockey Leaguers were enshrined on Wednesday, Feb. 8 before the London Knights played the Kitchener Rangers at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont.
Between the three of them, they played 404 games with the London Knights and then went on to rack up 23 combined seasons in the National Hockey League.
“It was a really nice call to receive,” admits Green. “I get thinking about all of the people I had a chance to meet in London, and my parents, and you wonder where the time has gone”
Green spent four years in London from 1972-76. He won the Max Kaminsky Trophy in 1976 as the Ontario Hockey League’s best defenceman and was then selected first overall by the Washington Capitals in the NHL draft.
When Green thinks back about his time in London two things come to mind, he says.
“(The first was) Dandy’s cheeseburgers that we used to have when we got off the bus at whatever time of the morning,” laughs Green.
“In all seriousness, the other was (Don) Brankley,” Green says. “I’ve never been around a person who was so meticulous in taking care of every little detail of his room. He was a special guy and I was very fortunate to have a guy like that to help me at a young age and help all of the guys out the way he did.”
Green began his NHL career with a Capitals team that was still working their way through a long and hard road away from expansion.
Things changed for him in 1982 when he was involved in a blockbuster trade that sent him to the Montreal Canadiens.
“It was like, is this for real?” chuckles Green. “You can’t forget the memories building up to the ultimate. If you are going to win any championship the Montreal Canadiens are second to none when it comes to doing things up right. I was really fortunate to be a part of it.”
Green went on to pursue coaching after his playing career with the Capitals, Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders came to an end.
Dave Hutchison was a teammate of Dan Maloney in London and then again with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Los Angeles Kings.
“He was just a gentle giant,” recalls Hutchison. “Kind of like a big brother to me. He took me under his wing. Intimidation was a big part of the game in those days and he protected the other players.
“In my first year, Steve Durbano speared Darryl Sittler and Maloney chased him right out of the rink at the London Gardens. (Durbano) went right into the dressing room and we never saw him again.”
Maloney was a first-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. He went 14th overall in the 1970 NHL Draft.
“He was a gentleman off the ice. An absolute gentleman,” says Hutchison.
Maloney played with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings where he served as team captain in the 1977-78 season.
Wideman was involved in the first major trade following the purchase of the Knights by Mark and Dale Hunter in 2000.
London sent captain Chris Kelly and Dan Jancevski to Sudbury where the Wolves had championship aspirations and received Wideman and draft picks. That really kick-started the road to the Knights Memorial Cup championship in 2005.
Wideman was playing his first season of professional hockey as London won but he was a massive part of getting the team to that level. Wideman and the Knights made it to Game 7 of the Western Conference final in 2004 against the Guelph Storm. The players, who would become a part of the “Team of the Century” the next season, always look back at what that experience did to ready them for the next year when they went 59-7-2.
Wideman took time to remember Don Brankley in his Hall of Fame speech.
“I remember being at a road game and this was back when they didn’t have glass behind the benches,” said Wideman. “Branks was yelling back and forth with the fans in the front row and things were getting pretty heated. I turned to him and basically asked him what he was doing and he said, ‘Dennis, if they are yelling at me, they aren’t yelling at you. Branks always looked out for his players.”
Wideman played that 2004-05 season with the Worcester IceCats of the American Hockey League.
After that, Wideman turned himself into an everyday NHLer with the St Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames. The Elmire, Ont., native was an alternate captain with Calgary in his final two years with the club.
In all Wideman played 815 games in the National Hockey League.
Wideman and Green will be in attendance on Feb. 8, as will members of Dan Maloney’s family. Dan passed away in 2019.