To make things clear, the Central Hockey League we’re talking about in this article is the one that existed between 1963-64 and 1983-84. The Central Hockey League, in name anyway, was resurrected in 1992-93 and exists today. Three that were honoured as rookie of the year in the CHL went on to Hall of Fame hockey careers.
Serge Savard – Houston Apollos
Before his great National Hockey Career, Serge Savard played a year on the blue line in the CHL for the Houston Apollos. In 1966-67, Savard played 68 regular season games for Houston, scoring seven goals and assisting on 25 for 32 points while sitting 155 minutes in the penalty box.
Serge also played two regular season games for the Montreal Canadiens and a playoff game for the Quebec Aces in the American Hockey Leaguein 1966-67. As for the Apollos, the team finished third in the six team CHL and lost to the eventual Adams Cup champion Oklahoma City Blazers in the opening round of the playoffs.
The following season, Savard was a regular with the Canadiens and he never played in the minor s again. Serge retired after the 1982-83 season. With exception of his final two years that were played with the Winnipeg Jets, his entire NHL career was spent with Montreal. In that time, he was a member of eight Stanley Cup championship teams and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 1968-69. He was the first defenseman to be honoured with the award. Savard entered the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.
Bernie Federko – Kansas City Blues
Federko was CHL rookie of the year in 1976-77, playing just 42 games for the Kansas City Blues. Bernie also played 31 games with the St. Louis Blues that season and four more in the Stanley Cup playoffs. With Kansas City, Federko made the most of his 42 games, scoring 30 goals and assisting on 39 for 69 points. He was coming off a 187 point performance in the WCHL the year before with the Saskatoon Blades, leading the junior league in scoring.
Federko played in the NHL until retiring after the 1989-90 season. He played for the Detroit Red Wings in that final season, the only year that he didn’t play for the Blues. Over his career Bernie recorded four seasons with 100 or more points. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.
Joe Mullen – Salt Lake Golden Eagles
When Joe Mullen got the Central Hockey League in 1979-80, the rookie of the year was now awarded the Ken McKenzie Trophy. Mullen was the recipient that year while scoring 40 goals and assisting on 32 for 72 points in 75 games for the Golden Eagles. He was a standout in the Adams Cup playoffs, contributing 20 point in 13 games as Salt Lake captured the championship by beating the Fort Worth Texans in seven games.
In his second year with Salt Lake, Mullen was awarded the Tommy Ivan Trophy as MVP and the Phil Esposito Trophy as the league’s top scorer. In 80 games, Joe scored 59 goals and assisted on 58 for 117 points. The Golden Eagles were once again playoff champions with a four games to three victory over the Wichita Wind in the final series. The Wichita, Kansas team played just three years in the CHL. However, the present-day Wichita Thunder were a charter member of the new CHL in 1992-93.
Mullen split the 1981-82 season between Salt Lake and the St. Louis Blues before becoming a regular in the NHL. He retired after the 1996-97 season. Along with the Blues, he also played for the Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins during his NHL career. He was part of three Stanley Cup championship teams, the 1988-89 Calgary Flames, the 1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins.