1969 NHL Amateur Draft Pick
Round Overall
6 64
Don Saleski
Selected by Philadelphia from Regina (SJHL)
Philadelphia Flyers Regina Pats
Don Saleski

6-foot-2, 186 pounds

Right-hand shot

Right Wing

Pre-Draft Statistics

Year Team League GP G A TP PIM
1966-67 Regina CMJHL 38 3 2 5 6
1967-68Regina WCJHL 58 6 9 15 34
1968-69 Regina SJHL 40 33 25 58 117

Pre-Draft Notes

Played for Regina in 1969 Memorial Cup tournament. 
Canadian • Born November 10, 1949 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan • Hometown: Moose Jaw

Career Vitals

First contract: 1966
Debut: January 11, 1972
(Philadelphia at Detroit)
Final NHL game: February 19, 1980
(Colorado vs. Philadelphia)
Retired: 1980
Stanley Cup: 1974, 1975
Numbers worn: 25, 11 (Philadelphia);
8, 11 (Colorado)

Career NHL Statistics

Teams: Philadelphia, Colorado
Years: 1972-1980. Playoffs: 1973-1978

Regular Season
9 years 543 128 125 253 629
Stanley Cup Playoffs
6 years 82 13 17 30 131
Complete statistics available at NHL.com 

Career Highlights

Established himself as one of Philadelphia's Broad Street Bullies when he recorded a career-high 205 penalty minutes as an NHL rookie in 1972-73. ... Played on Philadelphia team that lost to Montreal in 1976 Stanley Cup Finals. ... Tied Bill Barber for Philadelphia lead with four shorthanded goals in 1977-78.

Life Outside the NHL

Full Name: Donald Patrick Saleski
Nickname: "Big Bird", "The Bird"

Other Post-Draft Teams: Winnipeg, Saskatoon (WCHL); Quebec (AHL); Richmond (AHL); Fort Worth (CHL)

Broadcasting Career: Named Vancouver Canucks radio color commentator prior to 1982-83 season and remained in that position through 1986-87 season.

Education: Attended University of Saskatchewan during his junior career, Villanova University during his pro career, and Wharton business school after his retirement.

Career Beyond Hockey: Remained in the Philadelphia area and entered sports and entertainment business after retirement -- going on to prolific business in multiple fields. .... Worked for 18 years at ARAMARK Corporation in variety of positions, including time as executive vice president of ARAMARK's sports and entertainment group. ... Became senior vice president of business development for the arena management company SMG in the late 1990s. ... Named President and Chief Operating Officer of Club Systems Group, Inc., on Aug. 29, 2000. The company developed software to help golf courses manage their business affairs. ... Founded his own company, Business Edge Development, in 2005. The consulting company helped businesses strengthen front-line management teams to improve growth. .... Through his consulting work, he later became a part owner and Executive Vice President of Professional Receivables Network in 2006. The company works with business in the healthcare industry collect payments and reduce likelihood of future problems in receiving or making payments.

Charitable Work: Former Board member of After School All-stars, Breast Cancer.org, and Community Treatment Solutions.

Transaction History

Oct. 31, 1968 -- Claimed by Saskatoon (WCHL) off waivers from Winnipeg. June 1971 -- Selected by Quebec (AHL, Philadelphia affiliate) from Philadelphia in Reverse Draft. June 19, 1975 -- WHA rights claimed by Quebec from Michigan-Baltimore in WHA Dispersal Draft. March 3, 1979 -- Traded by Philadelphia to Colorado in exchange for future considerations (1979 second-round pick, Blake Wesley).

The 1976 Playoff Incident

On April 15, 1976, the Philadelphia Flyers were visiting the Maple Leafs at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinal Round. The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Flyers had dominated Games 1 and 2 at home to take a commanding 2-0 series lead going back to Toronto. The Leafs would end up winning three of the next four games, including Game 3, to force a decisive seventh game in Philadelphia, which the Flyers won easily to take the series. Although the series had plenty of drama even without violence, Game 3 would put an ugly stamp on the entire playoff year and lead to a national debate over whether violence in hockey had gone too far. Game 3 featured a total of 173 penalty minutes -- one short of the playoff record -- and led to criminal court appearances for Don Saleski, Joe Watson, and Mel Bridgman, who were all part of an ugly altercation near the penalty boxes. The handling of the Flyers case became a long, drawn-out affair that was settled a full year later, but the short-term damage was a significant black eye for the game. Watson and Saleski were both initiallly charged with assaulting a police officer, while Bridgman was charged with assaulting Toronto All-Star defenseman Borje Salming. There was plenty of brawling throughout Game 3, but the real chaos started with under eight minutes left, and the Leafs leading 5-4 on their way to victory. Saleski was called for a minor penalty and was taking a seat in the penalty box, when a group of Toronto fans began spitting on him. Saleski waved his stick menacingly at the fans, and a nearby police officer named Arthur Malloy, providing security just behind the penalty box, pulled it away from Saleski. Angry that his stick had been taken while fans were spitting at him, Saleski tried to pulll it back from Malloy. Suddenly aware of the altercation in the penalty box, Saleski's Flyers teammates hurried over to join him, and Watson reached over the glass to swing his stick at Malloy. Things calmed down from there, and no one was hurt, but the Flyers remained furious at both the Leafs and their fans. Seemingly as a form of retribution, Bridgman challenged Salming to a fight at 17:29 of the third period -- a fight Bridgman dominated, since he was an experienced fighter and Salming had never before dropped the gloves in an NHL game. Bridgman, however, said the fight with Salming was provoked only because Salming had attempted to spear him earlier in the game. Salming's defense partner, Ian Turnbull, went after Bridgman in what proved the game's final altercation. By the time the game ended, no one on either team had reason to believe criminal charges were imminent. The Flyers were simply angry at referee Dave Newell, who had given the Maple Leafs a 16-3 edge in power plays in the fight-filled game. All five Toronto goals had come on the power play. But the Flyers had misjudged the political climate in Ontario, and they were therefore stunned when Roy McMurtry, the attorney general, charged Saleski and Watson with assault against Malloy, and even more shocked when Bridgman was charged for his fight with Salming. In that instance, it seemed that local officials were trying to even the score for what Bridgman had done to their star defenseman, but McMurtry insisted that Bridgman had targeted Salming in an effort to injure him. Saleski apologized for taunting the fans, but said police had failed to protect him by removing or relocating the trouble-makers behind the penalty box. Saleski, Watson, and Bridgman were taken to Toronto's 52nd Police Division and booked. Watson was charged with assault, assaulting a policeman, and possession of a dangerous weapon (his stick). Bridgman was charged with assault, and Saleski was charged with assault and possession of a dangerous weapon. There was great debate in the sports world as to whether the charges against these three men were fair or not. NHL President Clarence Campbell tried to appease McMurtry in agreeing to impose greater disciplinary measures in the game and to crack down on "unnecessary violence", but the province of Ontario pressed on with charges against the Flyers players, which were later combined with other charges against Bob Kelly. In Game 6 of the series at Toronto, Kelly had thrown his glove at a fan in the stands and inadvertently hit a female usher in the face. A two-day preliminary hearing was held in mid-October 1976, and a Nov. 8 trial date was set for the four men. Both Salming and the usher had asked that charges against Bridgman and Kelly be dropped, but that did not sway the court. Because of the NHL schedule, the Nov. 8 trial was postponed until June of 1977. The case never made it that far. On April 15, 1977, just a few hours before the start of Game 3 of a 1977 playoff series between the Flyers and Leafs, an Ontario judge announced that charges against Saleski and Bridgman had been dropped because they didn't rise to the standard of criminal behavior, while Watson and Kelly had both pleaded guilty to assault and were fined a total of $950. Watson was fined $750 (in lieu of a 30-day jail sentence), and Kelly was fined $200 (in lieu of five days in jail). Incredibly, at the time of the rulings, the Maple Leafs led the playoff series 2-0. Once the case was closed, the Flyers went on to win the next four games, including Games 3 and 4 at Toronto, to take the series.

Significant Injuries

Missed most of 1969-70 season due to mononucleosis. ... Missed seven games of 1976-77 season with bruised shoulder.


Selected by Alberta Oilers in 1972 WHA Draft -- the first-ever WHA Draft -- in February 1972. Grew an inch after he was drafted and played most of his career at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. Was widely recognized as one of the NHL's top penalty-killers during his pro career. Obtained a Realtor's license during his playing days and sold containers in early off-seasons.
Ran the Radnor Rink Hockey School during off-seasons of his later playing days with Flyers. Played for coach Don Cherry during his final NHL season with Colorado Rockies in 1979-80. Longtime president and board member of the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni association. Played for Flyers Alumni in 2012 Winter Classic  Alumni game at Citizens Bank Park.
Total Selected: 84
Forwards: 58
Defense: 18
Goaltenders: 8
Major Junior: 68
College Players: 8
Canadian: 78
Euro-Canadian: 1
American: 4
European: 1
Reached NHL: 49
Won Stanley Cup: 10
Hall of Fame: 1
All-Star Game: 7
Year-end All-Star: 1
Olympians: 2
Picks Traded: 11


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