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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Lost Rookies: 1985-86 OPC Todd Bergen

  Todd Bergen burst onto the scene with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1985, but a combination of an abdominal injury, and a combustible relationship with head coach Mike Keenan, had Bergen out of the league by the following season.
  After going undrafted in 1981, Bergen was drafted in the 5th round, 98th overall, by the Philadelphia Flyers.  Bergen's tier 2 junior team, the Prince Albert Raiders, had won the Centennial Cup two seasons in a row and was promoted to the WHL as an expansion team for the 1982-83 season.  Bergen broke out in the 83-84 season, scoring 57 goals in 43 games for the Raiders.  He started the following season with the Hershey bears of the AHL.  After scoring 39 points in 38 games, the Flyers called Bergen up.
  In Bergen's first career game, January 8, 1985, he scored two goals, including the game winner.  The following game, he injured his abdominal muscles and missed the next 25 games.  Upon his return on March 10th, Bergen had a goal and two assists in a 11-4 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Bergen finished the season with 11 goals and 5 assists in 14 games.  Bergen started the play-offs hot, netting 10 points in his first 7 games, but cooled off dramatically, with only 3 points in his final 10 games.  
  Bergen refused to report to the Flyers 1986 training camp and was suspended from the team.  Originally the story was Bergen refused to report due to personal reasons and planned on retiring to play professional golf.  Rumours swirled about that Bergen wanted a better contract and refused to play for Flyers coach Mike Keenan.  In November of 1985, Bergen was traded in a four player trade to the Minnesota North Stars.  Upon being traded, Bergen told reporters he left the Flyers due to refusing to play for Mike Keenan.  Bergen was upset at the way Keenan treated him in the press, his usage under Keenan, and also how the team, particularly Keenan, treated his injury, as if he was faking it.
  Bergen's injury trouble followed him to Minnesota.  He showed up in Minnesota with a pulled abdominal muscles and wouldn't accept convention treatment.  He missed the entire 85-86 season and a large part of the 86-87 season.  Bergen played in the AHL in 86-87, scoring 23 points in 27 games with the Springfield Indians of the IHL.
  Bergen once again refused to report a training camp, as he held out of the North Stars camp in 1987.   Bergen claimed he was owed $130k backpay.  The North Stars claimed the Flyers owed it.  Before a ruling was held, Bergen decided to retire for good from professional hockey and once again try professional golf.  I can't find any results on his golf career.
  Bergen was quoted in The Hockey in 2004 as claiming "I didn't disappear, I got disappeared."  While Bergen was a very gifted player, and also 6'2', many questioned his desire to play and decisions he made during his short NHL career. As such, he never had a NHL card, or even a team issued card.  If OPC was aggressive as today's card companies, this is what a Todd Bergen rookie card may have looked like.

1985-86 OPC #274 Todd Bergen (RC)

1985-86 OPC #274 Todd Bergen (RC)

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