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October 23, 1987 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Mike Hartman is skating a
fine line between the NHL
and juniors, and between
the goons and the scorers





Special to The Jewish News

ow times have changed.
One year ago, Mike
Hartman was just one of
many eager young faces at
the Buffalo Sabre's training
camp. He just hoped to play in one ex-
hibition game with the National
Hockey League club. Now Hartman is
starting the second year of a four-year
contract with the Sabres and has one-
quarter of a season of NHL ex-
perience, which is much more than he
expected to have at this time.
Hartman, 20, grew up in Oak
Park and West Bloomfield and
developed his hockey skills in local
youth leagues, including the
prestigious Little Caesar's program.
After two years of Canadian Junior A
hockey, he was drafted by Buffalo in
the seventh round of the NHL entry
draft last summer, at age 19. Seventh-
round selections are not expected to
play in the NHL for several years, if
ever. None are expected to make the
team in their first try.
What did Hartman expect from
training camp? "To stay there about
a week and then get sent down," to
juniors he says. "I always dreamed of


playing one exhibition game."
While he took a realistic attitude to
training camp, he was not ready to
surrender — literally — without a
fight. At 5-feet-11, 190 pounds, Hart-
man is solidly built. Out of uniform,
he looks more like a small linebacker
than a hockey player. He put his
strength to good use at last year's
camp and impressed Buffalo's
coaches. "I went there and I fought
some of their toughest players and I
beat 'em. And then I scored some
goals, too. So they said, 'Here we've
got a kid that can score goals and play
both styles: "
While the NHL tries not to en-
courage fighting, the best teams
always combine two styles of play:
physical and skillful.
Hartman displayed both styles in
his first two exhibition contests, both
played in Buffalo. In his first game, he
scored a goal as the Sabres beat
Washington. Then, against
Philadelphia, he assisted on one
Sabre goal before getting into a fight
and eventually being ejected from the
game, something guaranteed to win
him the hearts of the home crowd.
After Buffalo's final exhibition
game, the Sabres told Hartman he
was on the team, making him one of

two Jewish players in the NHL last
season, joining Steve Richmond of
New • Jersey.
Hartman sees himself as a hockey
player, not one of a small handful of
Jewish players. "I just feel like I'm a
regular person," he said at his father's
West Bloomfield home. "The guys
don't care. They take you for what you
are. I didn't think much of it. I' just
said I'm just like them. What makes
a Jewish person any different than
anybody else?"
The busy hockey schedule did not
allow him to attend religious services
last season. "You usually don't have
time. Plus mentally, you're concen-
trating. Like last year, I was concen-
trating so much on Buffalo that
there's not really much you could do."
He reports no prejudice in hockey,
although a junior player once made
an ethnic remark which Hartman
took exception to. He dropped his
gloves and silenced the player with a
three-punch knockdown.
Hartman sat out Buffalo's first
three games last year, then suited up
for a Wednesday night game against
Montreal. He scored a goal in his se-
cond game, against Pittsburgh, firing
in a slap shot. "It was exciting," he
says, adding that he kept the puck. "I

kept every puck after every goal I
Hartman played in 14 straight
games, scoring three goals and adding
three assists in his first stint with
Buffalo. Because he still had one year
of junior hockey eligibility remaining,
Buffalo had to pay his junior team,
North Bay of the Ontario Hockey
League, $10,000 every ten games.
This is mandated by the NHL junior
hockey agreement. Buffalo paid
North Bay over $20,000 to keep Hart-
man on its roster.
Although Hartman was playing
well as a rookie, the team was in last
place, and the Sabres' management
eventually decided that it would
benefit Hartman to play more
regularly in junior hockey. They
returned him to North Bay just two
weeks before the Sabres played in
Detroit, denying Hartman a chance to
play his first pro game in his home
town. "I was really looking forward to
that, and I got sent down right before
I was coming here. I was really upset
about it, but there was nothing I could
do . . . One minute I was with men,
the next minute I felt I was with boys
But Hartman's disappointment
did not affect his play. He scored 15

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