In 1972 a young Montreal Canadiens prospect, John Van Boxmeer, received a call from his lawyer and agent, Alan Eagleson. Eagleson told him that Team Canada, then in training for their now famous 1972 series with the Russians, needed a junior defenseman after Jacques Laperriere withdrew from the team. Van Boxmeer jumped at the chance to train with players like Esposito, Mahovlick and Cournoyer. He didn't play in the series but he did get exposed to the best players of that era and what it took to play with them.
Unfortunately, Van Boxmeer found that the club which had drafted him could barely use his talents. The Canadiens, at the beginning of their four Stanley Cup run, were deeply stocked with players of equal or greater talent. His choices were to accept limited playing time with the parent club, go to the minors or request a trade. Van Boxmeer approached Scotty Bowman and asked to be dealt. The Canadiens sent him to the Colorado Rockies.
It was from the Rockies that Scotty Bowman acquired Van Boxmeer for the Buffalo Sabres in 1979. Bowman was now with the Sabres and recalled how he had reluctantly moved Van Boxmeer three seasons earlier. The Sabres need the two-way flexibility the defenseman provided. Van Boxmeer responded with a +40 season and help the Sabres climb to first place in their division.
Van Boxmeer played three more seasons with the Sabres. In the 1981-82 season he scored nearly a point-a-game, with a +20 Plus/Minus statistic. He was made expendable in 1983 by a recently drafted rookie named Phil Housley. "Boxy" played 18 more games with the Quebec Nordiques and some matches in the American Hockey League before retiring as a player.
John Van Boxmeer continues to be employed in professional hockey. He has served as a coach and, more recently, in the management of a minor league team.