For the inaugural Red Wings Rewind, we are looking back at the career of pointless Gordon Strate.
The defenseman’s defenseman failed to score a goal or register an assist in 61 games with the Red Wings, an NHL mark.
In the end, it didn’t seem to matter much to those who knew Strate. At his 2012 funeral service, guests reportedly spoke long and lovingly of the man. Few spoke of the former player’s dubious mark.
Guests of the solemn occasion spoke of Strate’s close relationship with his wife.
They spoke of the couple’s six adult children and what he meant to their lives.
They spoke of the successful tire shop he owned and operated, supporting his family.
They spoke of his ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (A Mormon in a 1950s-era NHL locker room? Now that’s a story!)
The conversations were a collective testament to Strate’s 77 years of life.
His pointless 61-game NHL career? Merely a footnote to his ultimate success.
Described as tough and gritty, Strate dressed for more NHL games without registering a point than any other player in league history.
In stay-at-home fashion, it was a testament to his talent. Can you imagine a modern player getting 61 scoreless auditions?
Strate earned his NHL debut in 1956-57 by proving to be durable and dependable, leading to former Red Wings coach Jim Skinner calling him from the WHL’s Edmonton Flyers. He received a five-game apprenticeship.
Displaying offensive potential in 64 games with the Flyers, Strate was credited with 15 assists and was named to the WHL’s All-Star second team.
The 1957-58 campaign was Strate’s big opportunity to prove he belonged. That he could create time and space for their leading scorers, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Norm Ullman and Alex Delvecchio, and provide secondary offensive production.
He didn’t, going 45 games without producing a point.
Strate’s Swan Song
Strate’s final NHL bow came in 1958-59 when he appeared in another 11 scoreless matches with the Red Wings. For the remainder of the campaign, he dressed for the AHL’s Hershey Bears, registering two assists in 53 games.
Strate continued to bounce around the minor leagues over the next few seasons, but with a growing family, he retired in 1962. He went out with a relative offensive flurry. In 70 games with the EPHL’s Sudbury Wolves, Strate collected two goals among 19 points.
To those who knew Strate, they knew him as a friendly, hard-working family man.
When he died, he left behind 33 grandchildren.
Who said Strate never scored?