THE DUTCH REIBEL FILE:
Born: July 21, 1930; Died: January 3, 2007
NHL games played: 409 (306 with Red Wings)
1954-55 stats (Detroit): 70 GP; G: 25; A: 41; PIM: 15
CAREER: GP: 409; G: 84; A: 161; PIM: 75
Between the 1950 and 1964 seasons, only one player surpassed Gordie Howe as the Red Wings’ leading scorer, and that man was Earl “Dutch” Reibel.
In 1955, Reibel’s 66 points eclipsed Howe’s 62 as the Red Wings captured the Stanley Cup that spring.
Scoring was not unfamiliar to Reibel, starting in juniors.
In 1949-50, Reibel, a center, played hockey across the Detroit River for the Windsor Spitfires of the (then) Ontario Hockey Association (it’s OHL now). His numbers in Windsor were phenomenal: 53 goals and 76 assists in just 48 games.
He turned pro in 1950 and played in 32 games for the Omaha Knights of the United States Hockey League in 1950-51, where he scored 38 points.
The following year, Reibel was off to Indianapolis of the American Hockey League, tallying 33 goals and 34 assists in 67 games.
In 1952-53, Reibel stayed hot, pouring in 34 goals and 56 assists in 70 games while a member of the Red Wings’ farm team in Edmonton of the Western Hockey League.
That performance in Edmonton finally earned Reibel a shot at the NHL, where he dressed in 69 of the Red Wings’ 70 games during the 1953-54 season and scored 15 goals while adding 33 assists.
Reibel’s scoring prowess continued the following year, when he unseated Howe as the team’s leading point-getter.
But just when it looked like Reibel was going to have a long and productive NHL career, the goals and the points mysteriously stopped coming.
After scoring 30 goals over the course of the 1955-56 and 1956-57 seasons, Reibel only managed 14 goals over his next 132 games and his NHL career was over by 1959 at age 28.
The Red Wings dealt Reibel to Chicago in a multi-player deal midway through the 1957-58 season, and the Black Hawks lost him to Boston in June 1958 in the intra-league waiver draft. Maybe there was something in the Detroit River water, because once Reibel left Detroit, he was never the same.
To this day, Dutch Reibel still holds the NHL record for most assists in his first league game (4).
Reibel won the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play in 1956.
NEXT WEEK: The greatest goalie who ever lived, Terry Sawchuk.