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Flames All-Time Countdown Chapter LXXXIX: 114-112

Tonight's article focuses on left winger Don Lever, right winger Jean Pronovost, and center Jiri Hudler.

Derek Leung

114. Don Lever

Lever, a 5'11", 185 lb. left winger, was a native of South Porcupine, Ontario. Born on November 14th, 1952, the Vancouver Canucks chose him in the first round of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, with the third overall selection.

Before joining Vancouver, Lever played just over two seasons in the OHA with the Niagra Falls Flyers, totaling 96 goals and 102 assists in 130 games. He joined the Flyers immediately following the draft, ultimately spending over seven seasons with the club (593 games, 186 goals, 221 assists). On February 8th, 1980, the Canucks traded him to the Atlanta Flames with Brad Smith for Ivan Boldirev and Darcy Rota.

In only 28 games with the 1979-80 Flames, Lever scored a Flames-ninth 14 goals on 74 shots with 16 helpers, a team-fifth-tying plus-5 rating, and four penalty minutes. The Flames finished fourth in the Patrick Division at 35-32-13, but lost to the New York Rangers, three-games-to-one in the opening round of the postseason. Lever had a goal and an assist.

The Flames moved to Calgary following the season, and took Lever with them for the 1980-81 campaign. It would prove to be his only full season with the franchise, but it turned out to be a good one. His efforts landed him in a tie for 10th in the race for the Selke Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s best defensive forward. He placed sixth on the Flames with 26 markers on 157 shots, with a team-seventh 31 assists, a team-second plus-21 rating, and a team-10th 56 penalty minutes. His four game winning goals placed him in a tie for third on the club. The Flames closed out their first season north of the border with a 39-27-14 record, for third in the Patrick Division. They defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in three games and the Flyers in seven before losing the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals in six games to the Minnesota North Stars. Lever scored four goals with seven assists while appearing in all 16 contests.

In 1981-82, Lever scored eight goals on 55 shots with 11 assists, a minus-14 rating and 14 penalty minutes. On November 25th, the Flames traded him to the Colorado Rockies with Bob MacMillian for Lanny McDonald and a fourth round pick (Mikko Makela).

Lever played four seasons with the Rockies/New Jersey Devils (275 games, 69 goals, 85 assists). He split his last two professional seasons in the Buffalo Sabres organization between Buffalo (39 games, 10 goals, three assists) and their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans (86 games, 35 goals, 36 assists). He coached for most of the next 24 years, mostly as an assistant with the Sabres.

All-Time Statline: 113 games, 48 goals, 58 assists, plus-12 rating, 66 penalty minutes, 8.28 point shares.

113. Jean Pronovost

Pronovost was a 5'11", 165 lb. right winger. He was born on December 18th, 1945 in Shawinigan Falls, Quebec. He made his junior debut with the Niagra City Flyers in 1964-65, scoring 48 goals and dishing out 74 assists in 102 games for the OHA club. He followed that with two seasons for the Oklahoma City Blazers in the Central League (117 games, 46 goals, 49 assists).

Pronovost was never drafted. He made his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins on opening day, 1968. He played 10 complete seasons with the Pens (753 games, 316 goals, 287 assists). While a member of the team, he earned two all-star selections and finished second in the voting for the 1976 Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player with the best "sportsmanship." He scored over 40 goals in four of his last five seasons with the club, and put up a career high 104 points in 1975-76, scoring 52 goals and 52 assists.

During the 1978 offseason, Pronovost was traded from Pittsburgh to the Atlanta Flames for Gregg Sheppard. 1978-79 would see him appear in a team-eighth 75 games, ranking fourth on the club with 28 goals (on 151 shots), 39 assists, and 67 points. He posted a team-seventh plus-21 rating and 30 penalty minutes. He led the club with eight game winning goals. Calgary went 41-31-8 and finished fourth in a strong Patrick Division. The Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated them in two games to open the playoffs. Pronovost scored a goal and an assist.

1979-80 would see Pronovost earn his third all-star selection while appearing in all 80 games for Atlanta. He ranked fourth on the club with 24 goals on 119 shots, with a team 10th 19 assists, a team-third plus-12 rating, and only 12 penalty minutes. The club finished fourth in the Patrick Division at 35-32-13, losing in the first round to the New York Rangers. Pronovost did not impact the scoresheet in the postseason other than to earn one minor penalty.

During the offseason, the Flames moved from Atlanta to Calgary. They also traded Pronovost to the Washington Capitals for an undisclosed amount of cash. Over the next two years, he played 90 games with the Caps (23 goals, 38 assists), also making an extended stop with the Hershey Bears (64 games, 35 goals, 31 assists).

All-Time Statline: 155 games, 52 goals, 58 assists, plus-33 rating, 42 penalty minutes, 8.53 point shares.

112. Jiri Hudler

Hudler, a native of Olomouc, Czech Republic, is a 5'10", 180 lb. center. He was born on January 4th, 1984, and first earned notice while playing with Vsetin HC in Czechoslovakia starting in 1999-00. He made a real positive impact on the club for the first time in 2001-02, when he averaged a point per game with 15 goals and 31 assists in 46 appearances. The Detroit Red Wings noticed, and chose him in the second round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, with the 58th overall pick.

Before making his way to the Flames, Hudler also played for Havirov Femax HC (15 games, five goals, one assist), the Kazan Ak-Bars (11 games, one goal, five assists), the Detroit Red Wings (409 games, 87 goals, 127 assists), the Grand Rapids Griffins (185 games, 65 goals, 114 assists), Vsetin (seven games, five goals, two assists), Moscow Dynamo (54 games, 19 goals, 35 assists), Prague Lev (four games, zero goals, one assist), and Trinec Ocelari HC (four games, three goals, two assists).

After the lockout was lifted in January 2013, Hudler joined the Flames for the first time. He earned points in his first three appearances, and in six of his first eight games. He had multiple points in five of his 42 games played. He appeared for a then-career high 17:10 per game. On the last day of January, he figured into all of Calgary’s points, scoring twice with an assist in a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. He earned three assists on the last day of February, in a 5-4 loss to the Avs. He ranked fourth on the club with 10 goals on 56 shots, with a team fourth 17 assists, a minus-13 rating, and 22 penalty minutes. Calgary went 19-25-4, but missed the postseason for the fourth season in a row.

2013-14 would see Hudler increase his career high TOI to 18:51, ranking seventh on the team with 75 appearances. He scored a team-fourth 17 goals on 109 shots, with a team leading 37 assists, a team-third plus-4 rating, and 16 penalty minutes. He opened the season on a nine game point streak, with four goals and eight assists. He totaled two points in 14 games, somehow never totaling three or more. On December 7th, he scored the overtime game winner in a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers. He had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on January 30th. The Flames closed the season with a 35-40-7 record. Hudler is entering the third year of a four-year, $16,000,000 contract.

All-Time Statline: 117 games, 27 goals, 54 assists, minus-9 rating, 38 penalty minutes, 8.57 point shares.