Between 1970 and 1973, Tom Lysiak became one of the more memorable skaters ever to don a Medicine Hat Tigers' uniform. In his final two seasons, he led the WCJHL in scoring by pouring in a whopping 297 points in only 135 games.
In spite of his torrid scoring pace, he was not the top pick in the NHL Amateur Draft of 1973. That honour went to the highly-prized Denis Potvin of the Ottawa 67's. Lysiak was second in line, going to the recently formed Atlanta Flames.
The young and dynamic centreman seemed like the perfect recruit for the situation. He had the crowd appeal and talent that a new team in a new town needs to get off the ground. According to Lysiak, the greatest moment of his career came not on the ice, but at the moment he shook hands with his team's coach, Boom Boom Geoffrion, during the draft ceremony.
On the ice, Lysiak played on a line with Jacques Richard and Larry Romanchych. In that setting, he established himself as a leader who put team goals ahead of his own. He also affected the scoring sheet with his deft sense of timing in front of the opposition's net. He tended to take his time with the puck until just the right moment for the shot. And if the going got rough, he wasn't adverse to tossing the odd elbow or dropping his gloves. He once impressed his fans by chasing down Flyer thug Don Saleski to challenge him to a fight.
In all, Lysiak put in almost six full seasons in Dixieland. By then he was thoroughly settled in the region. That made the news of his trade to Chicago all the harder to take. Of all the players involved in the blockbuster deal, no one abhorred its unfolding more than he did.
Nonetheless, he reported to the Windy City and, in the early going, received a chilly reception from the fans. It seems that former Hawks, Boldirev, Russell, and Rota, who went south to Georgia, were three of the city's most popular players. As such, Lysiak had six big skates to fill and, in the first few years, wasn't able to turn the trick.
In year three, however, he was placed on a stronger line with wingers who could play at his level. The results began to appear on the scoreboard as the team began a resurgence. By the end of the campaign, Lysiak had tied his single-season best performance of 82 points.
Harmony finally appeared to be his lot in Chicago until the 1982-83 campaign. During one night's work, Lysiak appeared to trip linesman Ron Foyt on purpose. There was some debate about his innocence or guilt with the latter taking the day. The sentence was automatic and non-negotiable: a 20-game suspension.
Lysiak survived his sentence with most of his reputation still in tact. He stayed on as a solid performer with the Hawks until his back began to give way during the 1985-86 season. Rather than wait around for a pink slip, he elected to retire of his own accord at the close of the campaign.