Brian Engblom played two years of hockey at the University of Wisconsin from 1973 to 1975. During that time, he was named an all-star collegiate player, took a number of general-interest courses, and discovered that deep down inside, he really wanted to pursue a career in professional hockey.
His course was solidified when the Montreal Canadiens selected him in the 1975 Entry Draft. Without any clear direction in school, an opportunity to join the Habs, with money to boot, was all Engblom needed to bolt to the pros. He put in the usual apprenticeship in the AHL, with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, and then joined the Canadiens in 1977-78. But joining the club and getting plenty of ice time were not necessarily synonymous, especially with a defensive corps stocked with Robinson, Lapointe, and Savard.
As a result, Engblom's initiation into the big leagues was marked by the usual bench-warming stints and rookie jitters. On his second shift of his first exhibition game, he was flattened behind his own net by Andre Savard of the Sabres. The puck was then deftly centred to Don Luce who popped it in for a goal. A young, red-faced Engblom shook at the bench for the rest of the game.
He did, however, recover from his gaffe to make it as a regular on the Habs' blueline. After healing from a broken jaw early in his tenure, he gradually established himself as a good, rushing-type defenseman. He was never a prolific scorer, but he managed to play a well-balanced game with effective coverage in his own zone.
During his five-plus seasons in Montreal, he got in on three Stanley Cup victories before his career swerved headlong into the trade winds. Over his five remaining years in the NHL, he played for four different teams. He joined the Washington Capitals in 1982 and then moved on for stints with the L.A. Kings, the Buffalo Sabres and finally, the Calgary Flames where he was forced to retire in 1987. A serious neck injury involving bone spurs required career-ending surgery to repair.
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