Photo Credit: courtesy Calgary Flames/Adidas

Long-Timers: Don Lever

In the 102-year history of the National Hockey League, 348 individuals have played 1,000 or more regular season games. 44 of them, or 12.6%, have played some part of their career with the Atlanta or Calgary Flames. We call these players Long-Timers.

Let’s take a look at Don Lever.

Originally from the amazingly-named town of South Porcupine, Ontario, Lever came up through the Ontario junior ranks with the Niagara Falls Flyers. He was the third overall pick, by Vancouver, in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft.

He went pro the next season as a 20-year-old and rose up the ranks there. He spent seven full seasons with the Canucks, becoming a reliable offensive presence and the team’s captain. Midway through his eighth season in Vancouver, he was traded to Atlanta with Brad Smith for Ivan Boldirev and Darcy Rota

Arriving in Atlanta, he had his best defensive stretch going plus-5 over 28 games and adding 30 points. The team relocated to Calgary that off-season and Lever had 57 points in 62 games (and went plus-21). The following season, the Flames sent Lever to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Lanny McDonald.

After less than a full season in Denver, the Rockies moved to New Jersey – Lever relocated twice in three summers, which has to be some kind of weird record in NHL history. He served as the Devils first captain and then was traded to Buffalo, where he played out the last two seasons of his career (split with the AHL’s Rochester Americans).

Lever was a career minus-152, ending up on the plus side of the ledger just once in 15 NHL seasons. But he was a reliable offensive presence and a good leader who wore the C in two of his four NHL stops.