Considering we're past 60 AGMs, we're definitely going to get into the deep tracks of things. We're getting a bit more absurd, especially with guys some people haven't heard from before. This week, we'll start that part of the trend with a guy who seemed to look like he was about to emerge as a solid back-up, but lost it due to one decision he may or may not regret. At least he had some kind of back-up for his hockey career being over. This week, we discuss Mike Sands.
Sands began his career in the Ontario Junior "B" system with the Streetsville Derbys, which could be one of the best names out there. Sands played 20 games with the Derbys in the 1979-80 season, finishing with a 3.26 GAA. Sands would get a call-up to the Junior "A" Dixie Beehives for four games, going 2-1-0 with a 3.55 GAA and a one shutout.
Sands would start his major junior career with the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL in the 1980-81 season. Sands would be the starter for the Wolves, playing in 50 games and going 15-28-2 on a dismal Wolves' team. Even so, the Minnesota North Stars picked Sands in the second round of the 1981 Entry Draft at 31st overall. Sands would continue on with the Wolves for the 1981-82 and they would continue to be a bit of a bad team, going 13-33-1 in his 53 appearances-- though he would have six assists on the season. Also in 1981-82, Sands would go to the Nashville South Stars of the Central League, where he would play in seven games going 3-3-1.
For the 1982-83 season, Sands would again be on the Wolves and again they would be a bit horrific, as he would go 11-27-0 in his 43 games; but it would be able to gain a spot on the 1983 Canadian World Junior Team, getting the starting gig over Mike Vernon in the tournament. The Canadian team would pick up a bronze, while Sands went 2-2-1 for the Canadians. After his junior season was over, Sands would go to the Birmingham South Stars of the Central League and go 0-4-0 in his four games he played there.
For his first full foray into the professional game was in the 1983-84 season when he took to the road with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the Central League, playing 20 games alongside of Jim Craig and Wendell Young. Sands would go 7-12-1 in the rotating system. He would have a good enough camp to start the 1984-85 with the North Stars, but would only play two games (losing both) before he was sent down to the AHL's Springfield Indians. Sands would get plenty of time and actually succeed, going 23-17-3 with a 3.24 GAA in the season. He would be called back up for another game for the North Stars, which was another loss. He would play in the playoffs for Springfield where he would lose all three games he would play in. For the 1985-86 season, Sands would get a limited time while playing in Springfield, only getting 27 games in while going 8-15-1 for the year. As the 1986-87 season rolled around, Sands would go on to be a back-up starter Don Beaupre, as former AGM Kari Takko was out of the line-up. Sands would get three games in going 0-2-0 before he was shipped back down to Springfield, where he would play 19 games, going 5-10-1 for his season.
The real issues came for the 1987-88 season with Sands. He was sent down to the AHL again, this time to the Baltimore Skipjacks. Sands would play in four games, losing all four, before he would leave the Skipjacks without the permission of the Skipjacks or the North Stars. He was subsequently suspended by the North Stars and then released in March of 1988 by the North Stars. Sands would be picked up by the Kalamazoo Wings of the IHL, playing three games and going 0-2-1 in those appearances.
Without a professional job in his sight, Sands would play for the Canadian National Team in the 1988-89 season. He would split time between the other goalies, Warren Skorodenski and Randy Hansch, and get in 21 games-- where he would go 6-13-1 in his games. After that year, Sands would hang up the pads and move onto other ventures at the age of 26.
After his playing career, Sands would go into the scouting realm. He had worked with the NHL Central Scouting Bureau and would then move onto the Calgary Flames staff, first as an amateur scout; then to the Director of Amateur Scouting. However, during the wholesale changes before the 2010-11 season, Sands would get sacked by the Flames during the summer.
Even though he didn't have the best records, he always seemed to get some good things fallen into his lap at times. He did have a bad falling out with the North Stars' at the end of his pro tenure, which probably shortchanged the career he could have had. Albeit, he did get held back in the minors for the longest time, he didn't have the chances to really show his worth. His confidence could have broken become of it, which probably let to him leaving the Skipjacks and the professional ranks in the end.