Vic Venasky

Vic Venasky’s 430 games played with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings are the most of anyone from the Lakehead. 1974-75 Venasky O-Pee-Chee hockey card image courtesy Hilary Kaszor.

Hailing from the Lakehead, Venasky was a star locally, right from his time in the minor hockey ranks.

His stellar four-year junior career saw him shine, mainly with the fabled Port Arthur Marrs.

Brought up as a 15-year-old by the Marrs for their memorable run all the way to the Memorial Cup finals in 1967 against the Toronto Marlboros, who were coached by another local legend, Gus Bodnar.

Venasky saw action in five regular season games and scored once before adding an assist in six postseason outings.

Three more successful campaigns, as a regular with the Marrs, he racked up 143 points in just 82 games while accumulating just two minor penalties.

Among the accolades he earned during his time with the Port Arthur junior side was a trio of Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League cleanest player awards as well as TBJHL league and playoff MVP laurels.

He also picked up TBJHL most gentlemanly player honours and a league scoring crown while being tabbed Thunder Bay’s Athlete of the Year in 1970.

His skill set also saw Venasky picked up by multiple clubs along the Memorial Cup trail.

After appearing with the Marrs in the 1967 event, he would also be added to the Fort William Hurricanes playoff run in 1969 and ’70.

The Weyburn Red Wings also bolstered their line-up with him in the 1970 Memorial Cup final against the powerful Montreal Jr. Canadiens.

In 35 postseason appearances his efforts saw him accumulate 40 points, including six with Weyburn in that 1970 Memorial Cup.

Venasky’s on-ice efforts in junior earned him a NCAA Division I scholarship to the University of Denver.

In his first season with the Pioneers, he provided plenty of offensive production with 56 points in 36 games overall.

His 39 points in actual WCHA play were tops among all players in the conference.

His efforts earned him NCAA West 1st Team All-American honours as well as WCHA Second Team distinction.

Denver would advance all the way to the NCAA Final Four where they would fall to the eventual champion Boston University in the semifinal, before rebounding to shutout Harvard in the third place match-up.

As a sophomore, Venasky produced another 56-point season for the Pioneers helping them win the WCHA’s MacNaughton Cup as regular season title holders.

DU did head to another NCAA Final Four, but we upended by Cornell, who lost to Boston U., in the championship game.

After registering nearly two points-per-game at Denver (57 GP/102 PTS) over two years, Venasky opted to turn pro and sign with the Los Angeles Kings, who selected him in the third round, 34th overall, in the 1971 NHL Draft.

In all, he skated in 430 NHL contests over seven seasons with the Kings and collected 162 points on 61 tallies along with 101 helpers.

He also had brief stops with the Springfield Kings (AHL), Fort Worth Texans (CHL) and Portland Buckaroos (WHL) during this time.

From 1974-1981, Venasky was a mainstay in both O Pee Chee and Topps hockey card sets, with his rookie OPC being in the 1974-75 set (Card No. 389). It sells for around $2.

His OPC card (No. 312) in the 1975-76 set, can be found for around a dollar.

Same goes for the following: 1976-77 (Card No. 211); 1977-78 set (No. 187); 1978-79 (No. 321); 1979-80 (No. 269) and 1980-81 (No. 290), which can all be purchased, within the same price range.

His Topps cards from 1975 through 1978, numbered 312, 211 and 187 respectively also cost about the same.

He then wrapped up his pro career in the AHL with the Binghamton Dusters (1978-79) and also had a stint locally with the Thunder Bay Twins senior side in 1980-81, that also featured a stop in Switzerland with HC Davos where he helped them finish second at the Spengler Cup.

Venasky has stayed involved in the game, coaching minor hockey in California.

He was inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame back in 2000.