By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
Former Muskegon Lumberjack Warren Young was back at the rink he once called home on Wednesday night.
Young completed his long professional career in 1987-88 as the captain of the professional Jacks.
Nowadays, he’s looking to break into the ranks of scouting for the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins. And that’s why he was watching the action from behind the seating area at L.C. Walker for the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
“What I remember mostly about Muskegon is that I was miserable,” Young said. “And I played like it. I had 325 minutes in penalty minutes that year, which was unheard of for me. But, you know, I was also the captain of the team and I had a role to play.”
The numbers don’t lie. In 60 games with the Jacks, Young scored 25 goals, added 26 assists and did spend an inordinate amount of time in the penalty box.
“The team was very, very good,” said Young . “We should have won it all, but we lost in the playoffs to Flint.”
He quickly rattles off the names of some of his teammates like Scott Gruhl, Jock Callander, Dave Michayluk, Mark Teevens, Jimmy Paek, Mike Rowe, Mitch Wilson and even a short stint with goaltender Pat Riggin. It was a Lumberjacks’ team that, under the coaching of Rick Ley, finished with a 58-14-0-10 record.
And what made Young so miserable wasn’t the fact that he didn’t like Muskegon, it was that he was no longer skating in the NHL.
“That was one of many things that went into it,” Young said. “But I wasn’t happy with hockey.”
Following that season in Muskegon, Young retired after having played 236 NHL games. He had 72 goals and 77 assists and spent 472 minutes in the penalty box. He also was a 40-goal scorer, a milestone he reached in 1984-85.
He had stints with the Minnesota North Stars, Penguins and one full season with the Detroit Red Wings.
And now that his kids are grown up, Young, who also spent 8 years coaching in the ECHL, is looking to get into scouting.
“I am not scouting for the Penguins, I am being tested for it, I guess,” Young said.
And what is Young looking for in the USHL prospects?
“I like to see them competing and I like to see the defensemen with two hands on their sticks, being strong in their own zone, and being ready for the puck whenever it’s near them,” Young said. “Obviously, skating and size are very important.”
Therefore, he liked what he saw on Wednesday night as the top 40 draft eligible players showcased their talents for dozens of NHL scouts.
“There a couple players who aren’t too bad,” said Young, who lives in Pittsburgh. “And I’m sure we’ll discuss it with the other members afterwards.”