15 February 2011
It's Moonlight Graham week here at Flyers Goal Scored By…
Which means we'll be taking a look at a handful of one-game wonders who came so close to their dream they could touch it, but only for a second, and in a Flyers uniform at that. It also means you won't have to wander the internet looking for your Moonlight Graham quote everyday, because it will be right here:
"Well, you know I... I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn't. That's what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases - stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That's my wish, Ray Kinsella. That's my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?"
Brian Wesenberg was a stud winger with good size when he was drafted 29th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 1995 (back when that was in the 2nd round, kids!). The Peterborough, Ontario native had put up some very impressive numbers during his rookie OHL campaign as a winger with the Guelph Storm. During his sophomore season with the Storm, in which he showed significant improvement, Wesenberg was acquired by the Flyers in exchange for Anatoli Semenov and Mike Crowley as the Storm prepared for a Memorial Cup Run. The following season the Flyers had Wesenberg once again return to Guelph as a 19 year old and, once again, he showed decent improvement before joining the Phantoms for 3 games in the playoffs.
During the 1997-98 season, his first as a pro, Wesenberg put up 39 points in 74 games and became a fan favorite with his rumble tumble, seemingly made for Philadelphia, brand of hockey. The 20 year old rookie had the world in the palm of his hand, finishing 10th in scoring and 7th in PIM on a Phantoms team that finished with the best record in the league and then went on to win the franchise's first Calder Cup.
Things were looking up. All the way to the sun.
With 4 games to go in the following season Jody Hull suffered a knee injury and the Flyers needed a call up. They looked across the parking lot to the youngster from Peterborough who had, just like in junior, increased his production and now was 6th on the team in scoring and 3rd in penalty minutes.
10 minutes and 24 seconds into a game against the Washington Capitals Wesenberg made sure his name was typed up on an NHL score sheet with this fight. I hope it was worth it.
Thinking back on Doc Graham, I'm sure it was.
In the bus ride back across the parking lot the thought probably never crossed Wesenberg's mind, that maybe that would be the only NHL game of his career. He would rejoin the Phantoms for another deep playoff run where they'd eventually lose to the Rochester Americans in the Conference Finals.
The following year, after a long look with the big boys in the preseason and 22 games with the Phantoms, the Flyers traded Wesenberg to the Thrashers for Eric Bertrand. Wesenberg would report to the Thrashers top affiliate, the IHL's Orlando Solar Bears and complete the season in sunny F-L-A. The next year he was down in the ECHL and eventually he puttered out of the game.
The long ascent and rapid decline of Wesenberg makes me wonder if, at the young age of 23, Wesenberg already knew his time had passed. It also makes me wonder if he knocked up some waitress in Orlando with fake boobies and then ran away to Mexico. Sadly, we'll never know. Was this a case of Icurian success or is there a little number 54 wandering around Florida, in a Rusty Bridges meet the Fockers scenario.
Either way, Wesenberg made it to the NHL, as a Flyer nonetheless, if only for one game.
|< Prev||Next >|