After winning heaps of accolades, and a National Championship, while playing for his home state, Minnesota University, in the NCAA, Reed Larson was drafted 22nd overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2nd round of 1976 NHL Amateur Draft. A tough defenseman with a cannon for a shot, Larson was the top ranked American in the draft.
Larson's university career came to an unceremonious end as he was suspended for assaulting an official during a regular season game during the 1976-77 season. He turned pro shortly after and joined the Red Wings for the end of the 76-77 season, netting one assist in 14 games. Larson fared much better in the 1977-78 season. He scored his first career goal against Denis Herron of the Pittsburgh Penguin, on October 26, 1977. It was the game-winning goal. He finished the season with 60 points in 75 games. At the time, 60 points was a season record for rookie defencemen.
As a member of the Red Wings, Larson was an incredibly consistent player. From 1978 to 1986, Larson scored between 17 to 27 goals per season, and 58 to 74 points. During his time with the Red Wings, he set franchise single season records for Defencemen in goals, 27 (still a team record), assists, and points. During the 1983-84 season, he became the All-Time American-born career points leader. The following season, he became the All-Time American-born Career Goal leader. He has since been bumped down to 35th for points and 50th for goals. Larson appeared in three All-Star games for the Red Wings, scoring a goal during the 1980 All-Star game that was held in Detroit.
The Red Wings had little team success during Larson's time with them. The Red Wings were nicknamed the Dead Wings during the 1970s and consistently one of the leagues worst teams until the late 1980s. During the 1985-86 season, Larson was traded to the Boston Bruins for Mike O'Connell. At the time of the trade, Larson was leading the Red Wings in points. The change of scenery did not work for Larson. He was no longer the top defenceman, as the Bruins already had Ray Bourque. Larson had 36 and 34 points in his two seasons as a Bruin, as injuries hampered his play. He missed the end of the 1988 regular season with an injury and was in and out of the line-up during the play-offs, including the finals against the Edmonton Oilers. He was in the line-up for the Game Four tie against the Oilers, the night the lights went out. The last time game in play-offs history.
Larson was a free agent after the 1988 season, but suffered nerve damage in serious car crash during the off-season. The injury raised questions regarding his health. He was able to sign with the Oilers near the end of training camp. He played exactly ten games with the Oilers, scoring nine points. Four of those points, came in a single game. He was traded to the New York Islanders for future consideration in December. With the Islanders, he scored 20 points in 33 games. The Islanders were sellers at the trade deadline and Larson was traded to the North Stars for a 7th round daft pick. Larson netting 9 points in 11 games as a North Star. So for the season, Larson played on three teams, scoring 38 points in 58 games.
|1989-90 OPC Reed Larson - Oilers - Islanders - North Stars|
Larson was a free agent during the 1989 off-season. With interest dwindling in the former All-Star, Larson signed to play with HC Allege overseas in Italy. Larson did return to the NHL one last time. He was signed by the Buffalo Sabres in March of 1990 and played a single game. After the season he returned to Italy to play professionally until 1994. At 38 years old, Larson returned to Morth America and played 9 games in the IHL with the Minnesota Moose during the 1994-95 season. He was elected to the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.
Larson's last NHL card with in the 1988-89 set as a Boston Bruin. After playing for three teams during the 1988-89 season, he did not get a OPC card and his one game stint with the Sabres did not draw any interest from any manufacturer. Surprisingly, there is a high quality picture of Laron's brief stint with the Sabres. So here is a career capper of Larson.
|1990-91 OPC #530 Reed Larson|
|1990-91 OPC #530 Reed Larson|