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The Atlanta Flames in Review: Article 1

2020-01-01
Bronislav Danda - LW
Born in Hradec Kralove, Czechoslovakia. Bronislav Danda despite his small stature is a talented offensive player with solid skating skills and superior puckhandling, passing and scoring abilities. He is also know for solid defensive play and clean style - acquiring just 14 PIM in 783 OTHL games.
 
OTHL History:
Bronislav Danda joined the OTHL in 1951-52 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks - helping the Blackhawks to three (3) OTHL Stanley Cup Championships. At the Trade deadline of the 1955-56 season, Danda was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres.
 
In Buffalo, Danda did not find Championship success, only appearing in the playoffs once and eliminated in the 1st round. However, despite this, Danda achieved personal career bests scoring 23 goals and 28 asssts in his first full season with the Sabres and then 25 goals and 34 assists in the 1957-58 season.
 
In the off-season of 1958 - Bronislav Danda found himself relocated to the Washington Capitals where he would play for 4 years - appearing in the playoffs two times in 1961 and 1962 - though eliminated in the 2nd round both times. He would set new career highs wth the Capitals scoring 33 goals and 44 assists for 77 points in the 1960-61 season.
 
In the off season of 1962 - Danda would join the Atlanta Flames for the 1962-63 where he would go on to post new career highs wth 36 goal and 52 assists and would help the Flames win their first OTHL Stanley Cup in just thier 3rd year of existance in the OTHL.
 
Real-World History:
Danda appeared for Czecholvakia in 3 Winter Olympics, 3 world cups and 9 International tournaments. He was also on 11 Czech Championship teams. In 1952-53 he had the most goals at the 1952-53 World Championships. In 1954-55 he was on the Spengler Cup winning Czech team, as well as winning a Bronze at the world championship that year. Also on two Europen Cup championship teams in 1966 and 1967. He is a member of Czechoslovakia Hall of Fame.
 
Valetin Kuzin - LW
Born in Novosibirsk, Soviet Union (Russia), Valetin Kuzin is known for his scoring and play making abilities.
 
OTHL History:
Valetin Kuzin joined the OTHL in the 1951-52 season as a member of the Minnesota North Stars - playing mostly for their farm affiliate the Growlers until the 1953-54 eason when he appeared in 55 games and scored 11 goals and 6 assits. The Northstars wuld make it to the Stanely Cup Finals that year.
 
In the off-season of 1954, Kuzin would find himself traded to the New York Rangers and spend the 1954-55 and 1955-56 season as a member of the Golden Gophers before being called up to join the Rangers in the 1956-57 season where he would go on to score 13 goals and 10 assists he would follow this up the next season as a ranger by scoring 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points in 1957-58. The Rangers would make the playoffs both years but eliminated early.
 
In 1958, Kuzin was moved to the Buffalo Sabres and in 1958-59 would set career highs of 24 goals and 45 assists for 69 point and help the Sabre win the OTHL Stanley Cup that year. 1959-60 would see both the Sabres and Kuzin struggle offensively and the Champions would find themselves eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs that year.
 
In the Summer of 1960, Kuzin found himself traded to the expansion team the Atlanta Flames - and he would lead the Flames to a surprise playoff appears in their first year. He would set career high 43 goals and 57 assists for 100 points - at the time 43 goals tied him for the all time league record (it has since been beat). However, despite his performance the Flames were eliminated in the 1st round by the Washington Capitals. 
 
Kuzin would find himself switching between the 1st and 2nd line for 1961-62 season as the Atlanta Flames continued to shift their roster around, but still managed to score 31 goals and 51 assists and helped the Flames to the Stanley Cup Finals only to fall in game 7 to the Chicago Blackhawks.
 
1962-63 saw Kuzin full time regulated to the 2nd line - but the soviet star would still chalk up 27 goals and 31 assists even with less minutes and limited special team appearances. This time the Atlanta Flames would win the OTHL Stanley Cup.
 
Real-World History:
Kuzin appeared at the Winter Olympics in 1955-56 and helped win the Gold Medal for the Soviet Union, he also appeared in two world championship tournaments winning Gold and Silver. This during a time when Soviet hockey was still in its relative infancy and not the juggernaut of the 60s and 70s. In the 1950s Kuzin was considered one of the fastest and best soviet players of the era and is a member of the Soviet/Russian Hockey Hall of Fame.
 
Anatoli Firsov - LW
Born in Moskva, Soviet Union (Russia) - distinction of being the best hockey player in the world at a time when few people thought that designation could go to anyone other than a Canadian professional. He practically invented the skill of propelling the puck with both his feet and his stick. If Wayne Gretzky perfected it, Firsov introduced it. Also known to have one of the hardest slapshots in international hockey and a insanely accurate wrist shot. He effectively had more skills than any other hockey player before him.
 
OTHL History:
Anatoli Firsov was the first overall european draft choice of the Atlanta Flames in 1960 - he would instantly be assigned to the pro-team where he would play 76 games - where he would score 12 goal and 22 assists - switching mostly between the 2nd and 3rd lines. He would help the Flames make the Playoffs in their first year.
 
Firsov would make the pro-squad in the 1961-62 season, again switching between the 2nd and 3rd lines of the Flames - but still managed a career high of 18 goals and 25 assists and would help the Flames to the OTHL Stanley Cup Finals.
 
In 1962-63 - Firsov would see his ice-team decreased as he was regulated primarily to the 3rd and 4th lines on the talent rich/deep Flames. He would also be removed from the powerplay unit. His production numbers would go down to just 6 goal and 19 assists as a result - but still managed a +16 +/- rating. He would go on to score 7 goals and 7 assists in the playoffs and help the Atlanta Flames win the OTHL Stanley Cup.
 
Real-World History:
Firsov was unquestionably the best player not in the NHL during the late 1960s when he led the World Championships in scoring for three-straight years and broke the scoring record in 1968. His Soviet teams won the World Championship every year from 1964 to 1971. He played on seven Soviet League championship teams. He won olympics gold 3 times - becoming one of the first hockey players in the world to do so. He also known for the "Goal from the Cosmos" scoring a slapshot from the red line during a line change during the world championships in 1964 - he was sitting on the bench when the goal went in.Firsov was named to five straight All Star teams at the World Championships. The amazing thing is that he was named an All Star at left wing in 1967 and 1969 and as a right wing in 1968 and 1971. He was honored with the prestigious Directorate Award at the 1967, 1968 and 1971 World Championships. In all, his Soviet teams won seven World Championships.