This is a flashback story of how two high end forwards with the Soo Greyhounds were able to get out of the dog house when the team was rebuilding after a spectacular five year run.
As the 1984-1985 championship campaign ended a sensational five year winning spree for the Greyhounds under the coach and general manager duo of Terry Crisp and Sam McMaster, the next five seasons would be all downhill for the Red and White.
But as the Greyhounds went from the penthouse in ’84-85 to the outhouse in 1985-1986, a pair of right wingers escaped the dog house via trade and finished their Ontario Hockey League careers with a flourish.
This is how it would play out from ’84-85 to ’85-86, the space of a single season.
Fresh from success in the Atlantic university hockey ranks, Don MacAdam would head to the Soo and not only replace Crisp as coach but assume the GM duties from McMaster.
And in fairness to MacAdam, Greyhound ownership certainly put him in a difficult situation. Not only was MacAdam assuming the reins of a rebuilding OHL team but he was hired as a solo act to replace two men — Crisp and McMaster — who had led the Greyhounds to 227 regular season victories over the previous five years, culminating with the OHL championship the previous term.
Almost predictably, it proved to be a first to worst transition from Crisp and McMaster to MacAdam as the Greyhounds went from a 54-11-1 regular season in ’84-85 to a disaster of a 15-48-3 record in ’85-86.
And while the majority of the star performers from the ’84-85 title team had graduated, a few key players were at MacAdam’s disposal for the ’85-86 season, including high performance right wingers Graeme Bonar and Brit Peer.
To be sure, Bonar and Peer were major contributors to the Hound power push to OHL championship glory in ’84-85. Regular season and playoffs included, the free-wheeling Bonar had an astounding 79 goals, 91 assists, 170 points in 82 games while the prickly Peer came through with 28 goals, 46 assists, 74 points in just 70 outings.
But then came the ’85-86 season and as it progressed and the Hounds were chasing their tails, MacAdam opted to deal Bonar to the Peterborough Petes for left winger Brad Aitken and ship Peer to the Windsor Spitfires for forward Danny Mahon and defensemen Eddie Smith and Tom Roman.
At the time he was traded, Bonar had 33 goals, 25 assists, 58 points in just 38 games for the Hounds.
And Bonar would continue his stellar play in Peterborough, totaling 31 goals, 25 assists, 56 games in just 34 games — regular season and playoffs included — in leading the Petes to the Leyden Division finals before losing to the Belleville Bulls.
Peer would also end his OHL season in a big way after moving from the Soo to Windsor.
After netting six goals, nine assists, 15 points in 17 games with the Hounds, Peer went on a tear with the Spitfires by totaling 22 goals, 37 assists, 59 points in 44 outings — regular season and playoffs included — in helping Windsor to the Emms Division finals before losing to the Guelph Platers.
Unfortunately for both transplanted Greyhound standouts, their ensuing pro hockey careers would be affected and cut short by serious injuries.
As for the Greyhounds, as they moved on from Crisp and McMaster to MacAdam and then Don Boyd in the dual role of coach and GM, the Soo would not win another playoff series until the 1990-1991 season when Ted Nolan was the coach and Sherry Bassin was the GM. In fact, following the departure of Crisp and McMaster, the Hounds would miss the playoffs in three of the next five seasons.
There is something to be said perhaps for not entrusting one man to do two jobs as the Hounds did with MacAdam and then Boyd.
At any rate, MacAdam, despite his one season of failure in the Soo, would go on to be an assistant coach in the National Hockey League with Jacques Demers and the Detroit Red Wings — and remain active in the game ever since.
And Boyd would overcome his shortcomings as an OHL coach to become a credible NHL scout of many years.
As for the main subjects of this chapter — Bonar and Peer will live on as good guys who had exceptional OHL careers, both with the Greyhounds and elsewhere. To be sure, both Bonar and Peer enjoyed lengthy stays in the OHL to be proud of — along with rightful mentions of the written word.
It isn’t easy to make it the OHL. It isn’t easy to produce and stay there. It isn’t easy to be traded and be uprooted from one town to another.
But both Bonar and Peer passed the tests with really good marks.