Willie Marshall played professional hockey for 20 years, setting American Hockey League records – most of which will never be broken – for games played (1,205), goals (523), assists (852), points (1,375), hat tricks (25) and assists in Calder Cup games (71).
Based on those stats, Marshall who has been a Lebanon resident for 20 years, was one of the first members inducted into the American Hockey League’s Hall of Fame in 2006.
Other inductees that year included Johnny Bower, goaltender with the most wins in the AHL; Fred Gloverand, Jody Gage, two other top scorers in AHL history; Frank Mathers, all-star defenseman and long-time player, coach, general manager and president of the Hershey Bears; Eddie Shore, architect of the storied Springfield Indians franchise; and Jack Butterfield, successful general manager and the AHL’s longest-serving president (1966-94).
In 2009, Marshall was also inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and recently talked about this recognition in the two prestigious organizations.
“This means so much because it means your name will be there forever,” said Marshall. “My accomplishments were done years ago, but it is nice to still be recognized for it now. I’m the most fortunate guy in the world to have been able to play all those years and getting these awards.
“It’s possible, but not likely, my games played might be broken but I don’t feel there is any threat to my point records because the structure of the game has changed completely,” added Marshall. “Now they want to move good veteran guys out and bring prospects in so players don’t have the option of staying like I did.”
Then he continued, “Now they have the option of going to Europe which wasn’t available to me. The other thing is there were only six NHL and 6-to-8 AHL teams in my day so there weren’t that many jobs, plus the rosters were smaller.”
Willie “The Whip”, as he was known, was just 5-10, 155 pounds and was always a target for the opposition, but managed to elude excessive contact and remain healthy during his lengthy career.”
“It was a different type of game then,” Marshall added. “knew at my size I had to be in top shape to be a force because every time I went out I was going against a checking line. I’d start a game at 155 pounds and finish at 150 or less.”
There certainly have been many changes both on and off the ice since Marshall started his outstanding career, the biggest being the player’s salaries.
“We had off-season jobs and went to camp to get in shape,” said Marshall. “With money involved, the guys work out and are ready to go when they get there. The average pay in my time was $5,000-$7,000 and you had to fight to get a $200 raise after a good year. The playoffs meant another couple of hundred dollars for us, but then a dollar went further they say.”
One other award that means a lot to Willie came in 2004 when the AHL instituted the Willie Marshall Trophy that is presented to the top goal scorer each season.
“I wasn’t told anything about it and in fact, nobody even wanted to talk to me that day so it wouldn’t accidentally be mentioned,” Marshall said with a big smile. “That’s one of the top honors a person can get.”
Marshall has become an avid author who has self-published numerous volumes of Christian poetry and several nonfiction works on Christian history, theology, and doctrine. He also recently completed his autobiography, “The Willie Marshall Story” that explains why he did not get more NHL time.
If you would be interested in obtaining a copy of Marshall’s book you can contact him at 717-270-1901.