Where Are They Now? Ed Westfall

Today we look back at an individual who had some firsts in Islanders franchise history and someone who has been around the organization for a very long time and that is Ed Westfall. While at first this wasn’t planned when I came up with the idea, today is actually Ed’s 73rd birthday so from all of us at The Checking Line, happy birthday to you Ed Westfall.

Ed Westfall played 18 seasons in the NHL for the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders from 1961-1979 as a right winger. Prior to the NHL he played junior hockey with the Barrie Flyers and the Niagara Falls Flyers and his professional career began with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Eastern Professional Hockey League. Westfall began his NHL career in 1961 with the Boston Bruins where he won two Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972. He was on the ice and covering the right defense position for Bobby Orr when Orr scored his legendary flying goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. Westfall also scored the second of the three fastest goals in league history, when the Bruins scored three goals in 20 seconds in a 1971 game against the Vancouver Canucks. Westfall was a participant in the All-Star Game in 1971, 1973, 1974 and 1975. (Photo Credit- www.jwenn.com)

After 9 seasons in Boston, the New York Islanders chose Ed Westfall in the 1972 NHL Expansion draft and the organization made him the first team captain. Another first for Westfall as an Islander was scoring the franchise’s first ever goal in their home opener and first game in franchise history, a 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Flames. His goal came with under 3 minutes left in the 2nd period. His best statistical season of his career came in an Islanders uniform during the 1975-1976 season when Westfall led the Islanders to their first playoff appearance. The team went all the way to the Stanley Cup semifinals, exploding in the playoffs with five goals and ten assists to cap a 22-goal, 55-point regular season. He remained an effective scorer through the 1977 season in which he was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication. Ed Westfall retired from the NHL in 1979 playing in 1226 games scoring 231 goals and 394 assists. (Photo Credit- New York Islanders)

After his playing career, Ed Westfall became a color commentator on television for Islanders telecasts working alongside Jiggs McDonald and later Howie Rose. On the broadcasts he was referrd to as “18” which is the number he wore in his playing career and was his nickname by teammates on the Islanders. Westfall worked in the Islanders broadcast booth until his retirement in 1998 but has made occasional appearances on broadcasts after retiring. In November 2011 he was inducted in to the Islanders Hall of Fame and the team held “Ed Westfall Night” on November 19th in a game against the Bruins. He and Jiggs McDonald called the 2nd period of the game that night on television. Today Westfall is working at The Corporate Relocator moving firm as a Relationship Coordinator (Photo Credit- www.7thwoman.blogspot.com)

My Take

I remember when Ed Westfall was part of the Islanders broadcasts in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s in his guest appearances and even today he makes occasional appearances. He was great to watch and hear hockey stories in what was a great three decades he was in the NHL as a player and broadcaster. As I wrote last week on John Tonelli and will state again here, these are the types of players every hockey team loves to have the scrappy guys who will make plays but aren’t always shown statistical as opposed to what it meant on the ice in game situations. The Islanders over the years have had many stars and many fan favorites for all different performances on the ice and in talking to some older Islanders fans over the years, “18” was certainly one of those. At Howie Rose’s book signing this summer, he spoke about how it was a great experience to work with a guy like Westfall and the experience he had in the league.

This concludes our Where Are They Now segment for a little while as the opening of the 2013-2014 NHL season is around the corner. I will be at Barclays Center on Saturday night for the Islanders/Devils game and will be reporting from there this weekend.

-John Santamaria

Follow me @JSantamariaNY

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