Although Jody Gage played just 68 career games in the National Hockey League, he gained legendary status in the American Hockey League, where he set numerous offensive and longevity records over the span of a magnificent 17-year career.
A Toronto native (b. Nov. 29, 1959), Gage was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1979 and joined the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings that fall. He set the table for his prolific career in his AHL debut on Oct. 11, 1979, scoring four goals in an 8-3 win over Hershey. Gage spent most of the next six seasons with the Wings in Glens Falls, N.Y., winning a Calder Cup championship in 1981 and scoring 40 goals during the 1983-84 campaign.
In the summer of 1985, Gage signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Sabres and soon became one of the most recognizable figures in the storied history of the AHL’s Rochester Americans. His Amerks debut was déjà vu, as Gage scored four times to help defeat Hershey. He finished his first year in Rochester with 42 goals and 99 points and was named a First Team AHL All-Star, but the club finished out of the playoff picture.
In 1986-87, Gage tied what was then an AHL record with 14 goals in 17 postseason games as Rochester won the Calder Cup. And in 1987-88, he became the second player in AHL history to score 60 goals in a season, setting a career high with 104 points and earning the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s most valuable player. Gage reeled off four straight 40-goal seasons from 1989-93, and not coincidentally, the Americans returned to the Calder Cup Finals three times in that span.
On Nov. 12, 1993, Gage became just the third AHL player ever to record 1,000 career points with an assist vs. Binghamton. Just two months later, a further pursuit of history was temporarily derailed when Gage suffered a season-ending knee injury in his 999th career AHL game. After a lengthy rehabilitation, he became the fifth player in league history to reach 1,000 games on Nov. 25, 1994. And on Mar. 26, 1995, in the first period of a 5-4 win over visiting Albany, Gage became the third member of the AHL’s exclusive 500-goal club.
Gage, who was named co-captain of the U.S. team at the 1995 AHL All-Star Game, the first edition of the event after a 35-year hiatus, retired during the 1995-96 season ranked third in league history with 504 goals and 1,048 points, and as the AHL’s all-time leader with 51 career Calder Cup Playoff goals. His seven career 40-goal seasons remain an AHL record to this day, and he is also Rochester’s all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points.
Upon his retirement, Gage became the Americans’ assistant general manager and helped the club to the 1996 Calder Cup championship. He was named GM in 1996-97, and in 11 seasons oversaw five division championships and two more Calder Cup Finals appearances in Rochester, as well as the Amerks’ franchise-record 51-win season in 2004-05.
|Career AHL Statistics – Jody Gage
|1979-80||Adirondack Red Wings||63||25||21||46||15||5||2||1||3||0|
|1980-81||Adirondack Red Wings||59||17||31||48||44||17||9||6||15||12|
|1981-82||Adirondack Red Wings||47||21||20||41||21||--||--||--||--||--|
|1982-83||Adirondack Red Wings||65||23||30||53||33||6||1||5||6||8|
|1983-84||Adirondack Red Wings||73||40||32||72||32||6||3||4||7||2|
|1984-85||Adirondack Red Wings||78||27||33||60||55||--||--||--||--||--|