Memories of 75-76 Windsor Spitfires Vol III
The expansion team Windsor Spitfires finished their first season in the then-Ontario Major Junior “A” Hockey League in 1975-76 with a 12-50-4 record, good for last place overall in the 12- team league. Perhaps the single biggest reason for the team’s futility (which was to be expected by the way) was the club’s inability to stop opposing teams from scoring literally at will as they allowed an astounding 470 goals in 66 games – for an average of 7.12 goals per game. Beleaguered Spitfire puckstoppers were fishing the puck out of their net every 8.42 minutes on average every game all season.
Goal judges from around the league suffered as well as the result of the Spits’ inability to keep the opposition from scoring literally at-will. Many of them suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of having to flick the red light on so often behind the Spits’ goaltenders.
The Spitfires’ porous defensive corps that season included the likes of a few players who reached their pinnacle of the careers by playing in Windsor that season. Tom Rieck – yes, that Tom Rieck – not only played with the Spits in ’75-’76 but he also had stints with the Ottawa 67s and Kitchener Rangers that season. He finished his competitive hockey playing career by in the old Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League – the very same league that the Spitfires had played in before gaining entry into the OMJHL.
Ron Twiss went on to play in the Eastern Hockey League – a semi-professional league that lasted for three seasons in the late 1970s before he came out of retirement to play Ontario Senior A Hockey in Cambridge.
Windsor native Marty Deschamps – a hard rock of a rearguard despite being only 5’11” and 190 lbs., played 50 games during his rookie season before returning to play just 19 contests in his sophomore season with his hometown team.
However, despite the Spitfires’ horrible defensive record during their first season, incredibly enough three players – Joel Quenneville, Chris Kotsopoulos and Mark Renaud – all went on to play in the National Hockey League.
Quenneville, who has established himself as an outstanding coach in the NHL and currently trails only Scotty Bowman for most career wins, went on to captain the Spitfires during his final two seasons in Windsor. He played 802 career games in the NHL with Toronto, Colorado, New Jersey, Harftord and Washington.
Kotsopoulos, who had a falling-out with head coach and general manager Wayne Maxner during the end of the ’75-’76 season, did not return for a second season in Windsor but did go on to play 479 career games in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.
Renaud also played only one season with his hometown Spitfires before moving on to play three seasons in Niagara Falls with the Flyers before embarking on a pro career with both the Hartford Whalers and Buffalo Sabres. Because Renaud was not drafted by the Spitfires, he was eligible for the OMJHL draft in the spring of 1976 and he was selected by Niagara Falls.
Mark Renaud’s son Mickey went on to become the captain of the Spitfires before tragically passing away at age 19 in 2008.
Read the first installment of this three part series , Windsor Spitfires Memories from ’75-’76 Vol I