While we get closer and closer to the return of the Winnipeg Jets, we flashback to one of the original NHL Jets who didn't really make the cut with Winnipeg....or many places else in the NHL for that matter. However, he came up from a very unknown source in the NCAA and carved his niche in the minors. This week, the profile of Lindsay Middlebrook.
Middlebrook played Junior "A" hockey with the Wexford Raiders in Ontario, before signing on to play with the St. Louis University Billikens, who were a founding member in the CCHA division of NCAA hockey. From the 1973-74 until the 1976-77 season, Middlebrook played 74 games with the Billikens, helping them with two CCHA titles and garnering CCHA First Team All-Star honors in the 1974-75 season.
After his college career, Middlebrook signed with the New York Rangers before the 1977-78 season, where he would play between the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL for 17 games (5-9-3) and then 16 regular season games with the IHL's Toledo Golddiggers, then 13 playoff games helping them win the Turner Cup for the season. With that prior success, Middlebrook stayed in the AHL for the 1978-79 season with the Nighthawks, going 29-19-5 in 54 games, then 2-3 in five playoff games. Middlebrook was named to the AHL First Team All-Star team at the end of the season.
With the NHL absorbing or "expanding" the WHA, Middlebrook was left unprotected and picked up by the Winnipeg Jets with their second pick of the Expansion Draft. However, most of the 1979-80 season saw Middlebrook with the CHL's Tulsa Oilers, where he would play in 37 games and compile a 16-15-3 record, then 0-2 in the playoffs. When called up by Winnipeg, Middlebrook went 2-8-0 in his ten games. The 1980-81 season had Middlebrook back in Tulsa for the majority of the time, going 17-16-2 in 36 games, then 4-4 in the playoffs; allowing him to take home the CHL Second Team All-Star honors. When called up to Winnipeg, Middlebrook struggled and went 0-9-3 in 14 games with the Jets.
In the summer of 1981, Middlebrook was traded to the Minnesota North Stars for cash. The 1981-82 season would have Middlebrook settle back into the CHL with the Nashville South Stars, where he would play 31 games with a 17-11-2 record; then going 0-3 in the playoffs. When called up to Minnesota, Middlebrook didn't lose a game......or win a game, as he went 0-0-2 in his three appearances.
Middlebrook was a free agent and signed with the New Jersey Devils in 1982, who had recently moved to New Jersey from Colorado, allowing him to play with a new team that actually was old. However, he only got in nine games with the Devils, going 0-6-1. He would spend most his time in the CHL again with the Wichita Wind, going 6-7-0 in 13 games.
Then, Middlebrook was traded by the Devils to the Edmonton Oilers in the middle of the 1982-83 season, but Middlebrook only played one game-- which was a win-- for the Oilers. Middlebrook was sent to the AHL's Moncton Alpines, going 6-4-1 in 11 games with them.
After no NHL offers came, Middlebrook signed with the CHL's Montana Magic, playing in 33 games in the 1983-84 season; going 10-22-3 for that time. In the 1984-85 campaign, Middlebrook went back to the IHL and the Toledo Golddigers, playing 18-25-3 in his 50 games, then 2-4 in his playoff starts. For a third year, Middlebrook moved to another team-- the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL-- and would have a solid showing the 1985-86 season, going 33-10-0 in 56 games, then 1-4 in five games of the playoffs. Middlebrook would end his career playing with the Danville Fighting Saints in the 1986-87, helping them to the championship of the All-American Hockey League. After winning that title, Middlebrook decided to hang up his pads.
While Middlebrook has seem to been out of the limelight, he has been seen around the Danville, Illinois area in the hockey scene there.
While he did have his bright spots, it seems that during a time where you had little leeway to make a mistake-- Middlebrook seemed to have the mistakes following him around in the NHL. He did carve a slight spot for him in the minor leagues, but still could have done better. All in all, he could hang his hat on being with two franchises that were just starting, but moving from either a previous league or previous city.