Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Eric Vail
Eric Vail was a big strapping boy from the Ontario north, born September 16, 1953 in Timmins, Ontario. Vail shared the nickname 'Big Train' with Canada's Athlete of the First Half-Century (1900-1950), Lionel Conacher. Eric spent his teen years playing junior in the Ontario Hockey Association, starting with two seasons with the Niagara Fall Flyers between 1970-1972, then splitting 1972-23 between the Soo Greyhounds and Sudbury Wolves. In that final year of junior, Vail scored 48 goals and 105 points, and impressed NHL scouts enough that in 1973, he was the third choice (twenty-first selection overall) of the Atlanta Flames who had just completed their first season. 'Big Train' split the 1973-74 season between Atlanta and their CHL affiliate in Omaha, but only played 23 games in the NHL. To be eligible for the NHL's Calder Trophy as its rookie of the year, rules stipulate that players can not have played in more than 25 games, so in 1974-75, now a full-time leftwinger for the Flames, Eric Vail was still considered a rookie. That season, he fired 39 goals and finished with 60 points, winning the Calder Trophy -- the first Flame to win a major NHL award. Teammate Willi Plett would win the Calder two years later following the 1976-77 season. Vail continued to play a major offensive role with the struggling Atlanta Flames through the remainder of its existence. In 1976-77, Eric was chosen to play in the All-Star Game, and represented Canada at the World Championship. His most productive season in Atlanta was 1978-79, when he collected 83 points, finishing just outside the top 10 scorers that season. In 1980-81, Vail moved to Calgary when the team relocated there and continued to contribute offensively to the team. In November 1981, Vail was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Gary McAdam and a draft choice and finished the season, and his NHL career, with that year in Detroit.

REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1970-71 Niagara Falls Flyers OHA-Jr. 59 18 30 48 76
1971-72 Niagara Falls Flyers OHA-Jr. 60 25 48 73 122
1972-73 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHA-Jr. 38 29 31 60 50
1972-73 Sudbury Wolves OHA-Jr. 25 19 26 45 30 4 1 1 2 2
1973-74 Atlanta Flames NHL 23 2 9 11 30 +2 1 0 0 0 2
1973-74 Omaha Knights CHL 37 10 18 28 54
1974-75 Atlanta Flames NHL 72 39 21 60 46 +1
1975-76 Atlanta Flames NHL 60 16 31 47 34 +7 2 0 0 0 0
1976-77 Atlanta Flames NHL 78 32 39 71 22 +9 3 1 3 4 0
1976-77 Canada WEC-A 9 4 1 5 18
1977-78 Atlanta Flames NHL 79 22 36 58 16 +3 2 1 1 2 0
1978-79 Atlanta Flames NHL 80 35 48 83 53 +25 2 0 1 1 2
1979-80 Atlanta Flames NHL 77 28 25 53 22 +5 4 3 1 4 2
1980-81 Calgary Flames NHL 64 28 36 64 23 +8 6 0 0 0 0
1981-82 Calgary Flames NHL 6 4 1 5 0 -1
1981-82 Oklahoma City Stars CHL 3 0 3 3 0
1981-82 Detroit Red Wings NHL 52 10 14 24 35 -21
1981-82 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 10 3 4 7 0
1982-83 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 74 20 29 49 33 5 1 1 2 0
NHL Totals 591 216 260 476 281 20 5 6 11 6


Calder Memorial Trophy (1975) Played in NHL All-Star Game (1977) Transferred to Calgary after Atlanta franchise relocated, June 24, 1980. Traded to Detroit by Calgary for Gary McAdam and Detroit's 4th round choice (John Bekkers) in 1983 Entry Draft, November 10, 1981.