Tag Archives: Steve Yzerman


by Ron Spence

As noted in the previous article, the Kootenays have had a rich hockey tradition going back some 115 years.

The first NHL player of significance to hail from the Kootenays, was Cecil “Tiny” Thompson, who would win four Vezina Trophies.

Since that time, many players have followed, some of the better known being the Niedermayer brothers, and Steve Yzerman, all of whom came from Cranbrook.

And, if you take a careful look at the Stevie Y picture, on the side of the Detroit building, you will see that the company acknowledges his Kootenay heritage.

There is also an NHL coach, Tom Renney from Cranbrook, and an NHL GM, Steve Tambellini from Trail.

I have listed only the players from the major areas of the Kootenays.

Also included are any members of the Kootenay Ice, who were drafted by an NHL team, or have played, or are playing in the NHL.

If anyone has been omitted – from the smaller areas, or a larger town – please write their names in the LEAVE A COMMENT field below, and they will be added to the list.


by Ron Spence

Joe Pelletier has a great series of photos on his website: Greatest Hockey Legends.

My favourite picture doesn’t concern any one event, however, but a relationship between a player and his adopted city.

It’s cold outside, but there’s a lot of love on the side of that building.

courtesy of letsgoredwings blog

HOCKEY SALARIES: 1987 1988 1989 1990

by Ron Spence

When Bob Goodenough took over the NHLPA in February, 1990, he introduced salary disclosure. It’s something that’s taken for granted today.

How important was it?

Wayne Greztky’s father, Walter admitted to Terry Jones: “I knew Wayne was getting traded days before he did because Nelson Skalbania phoned me and asked, ‘How much does Wayne make?’

I said ‘Why?’

He said ‘Because Peter’s shopping him to the highest bidder.’

I said ‘No he’s not.’

He said ‘Yes he is.’

That was during the 1988 Stanley Cup finals – a year and a half before salary disclosure.

Of course Pocklington knew how much his star was making, as did Wayne and his father, but it wasn’t public knowledge like it is today.

Hockey Zone Plus has compiled a comprehensive database of some 2500 players who’ve played in the NHL from 1989 until the present.

Also, a hockey fan, who calls himself Ogopogo, has located copies of Sport magazine, which ceased publishing in 2000. In his issues were the: 1987, 1990, and 1991 NHL salaries.

I have included the Hockey Zone’s 1990 salaries, along with those listed by Sport.

I would note, however, that the two lists for 1990 aren’t always the same – some are calculated in American funds, some Canadian. But, I am including both, as they provide a good idea of NHL salaries at that time.

I would ask the reader to also note, that the years from 1987 until 1990, was the time in which Offer Sheets were first being presented.

SPORT – June, 1987

1. Wayne Gretzky – Oilers – $950,000 CDN – (converted to $717,250 USD)
2. Marcel Dionne – Rangers – $700,000
3. Mike Bossy – Islanders – $650,000
4. Bryan Trottier – Islanders – $625,000
5. Dave Taylor – Kings – $600,000
6. Mario Lemieux – Penguins – $550,000
5. Denis Potvin – Islanders – $550,000
8. Mike Liut – Whalers – $450,000
9. Rod Langway – Capitals – $400,000
10. Barry Pederson – Canucks – $350,000

SPORT – June, 1989

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2 million
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $1.5 million
3. Trottier – Islanders – $950,000
4. Taylor – Kings – $700,000
5. Dionne – Rangers – $600,000
6. Liut – Whalers – $550,000
7. Goulet – Nordiques – $510,000
8. Messier – Oilers – $510,000
9. Savard – Blackhawks – $500,000
10. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
11. Duguay – Kings – $475,000
12. Hawerchuk – Jets – $467,500
13. Stastny – Nordiques – $446,250
14. Carpenter – Bruins – $425,000
15. LaFontaine – Islanders – $425,000
16. Gustafsson – Capitals – $410,000
17. Stevens -Capitals – $400,000
18. Pederson – Canucks – $400,000
19. Bourque – Bruins – $380,000
20. Fuhr – Oilers – $340,000
20. Robinson – Canadiens – $340,000

SPORT – June, 1990

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2.72 milion
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $2.15 million
3. Chelios – Canadiens – $1 million
4. Trottier – Islanders – $975,000
5. Taylor – Kings – $950,000
6. Bourque – Bruins – $925,000
7. Messier – Oilers – $875,000
8. Nicholls – Rangers – $725,000
9. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000
10. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $600,000
11. Carson – Oilers – $585,000
12. Robinson – Kings – 550,000
13. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000
14. Dineen – Whalers – $510,000
15. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000
16. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000
17. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000
18. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
19. Stastny – Nordiques – $480,000
20. Hawerchuk – Jets – $462,000

HOCKEY ZONE PLUS – 1989-90 (U.S. Dollars)

1. Lemieux – Penguins – $2,000,000

2. Gretzky – Kings – $1,720,000

3. Messier – Oilers – $855,271

4. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000

5. Trottier – Islanders – $ 575,000

6. Robinson – Kings – $550,000

7. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000

8. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $517,980

9. Bourque – Bruins – $500,000

10. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000

11. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000

12. Taylor – Kings- $500,000

13. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000

14. Chelios – Canadiens – $496,398

15. Coffey – Penguins – $450,000

16. Liut – Capitals – $445,000

17. Salming – Maple Leafs – $435,000

18. Kurri – Oilers – $431,650

19. Howe – Flyers – $425,000

20. Stastny – Nordiques – $414,384

21. MacInnis – Flames – $410,068

22. Sandstrom – Kings – $410,000

23. LaFontaine – Islanders – $400,000

24. Nicholls – Rangers – $400,000

25. Gartner – Capitals – $400,000

25. Carson – Oilers – $400,000


by Ron Spence

Neither Steve Yzerman, nor Sergei Fedorov, were awarded the Calder Trophy following their rookie seasons.

So, who won?

Ironically, they were both goalies. Although, they arrived at the NHL along different paths.

During the 1983-84 season, when Stevie Y was cutting his teeth, eighteen-year-old Buffalo netminder Tom Barrasso was literally “standing on his head.”

Straight out of high school hockey, he went 26-12 in 42 games.

Ed Befour won the Calder seven years later, but had arrived in the Big Tent via a circuitous route, and was twenty-five years old.

He had played two years in the old International Hockey League (comparable to the AHL in those days), one on the Canadian National Team, and a partial year with the Blackhawks, appearing in 23 games.

Belfour would play sixteen additional NHL seasons, winning the Vezina Trophy twice, the William Jennings Trophy – for the best goals against – four times, and the Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award – for the best save percentage – once. He won an Olympic Gold Medal for Canada, as well as a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars.

Barrasso won the Vezina the same year that he was awarded the Calder, and the Jennings Trophy once during his nineteen years in the NHL. He won an Olympic Silver Medal with Team U.S. and two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.


by Ron Spence

Will Joe Sakic play another season for the Avalanche?

Will he retire?

(Does he have things to do in Denver?)

We know that he won’t sign to play anywhere else. That’s a given. Burnaby Joe’s loyalty is up there with Steve Yzerman’s.

And as Joe Sakic ponders what to do, I remember a feature which I wrote – for Hockey Illustrated – ironically, about his patience:


If patience is a virtue, Joe Sakic should be a candidate for sainthood.

THE Hockey Scouting Report writes: “Sakic’s most impressive gift is his great patience with the puck. He will hold it until the last minute, when he has drawn the defenders to him and opened up ice, creating…time and space for his linemates.”

Equally impressive is Sakic’s patience off the ice.

First of all, he waited and waited for his team to improve. Finally, after years in the basement, Colorado (formely Quebec) elevated themselves to the penthouse when they won the Stanley Cup in 1996.

Joe also waited for people to recognize his talent. Vancouver’s Dave Babych calls Sakic “the quietest superstar there ever was.” Joe had been fifth in NHL points during the 1990’s, yet didn’t win an NHL award until the Avalanche took the Cup. It was the Conn Smythe Trophy.

And, Joe waited patiently for the financial compensation he rightfully deserved. He recently signed a contract for $21 million, making him one of hockey’s wealthiest players.

Joe Sakic was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and first caught people’s attention when he played midget hockey. Joe lead his lackluster team to the Air Canada Cup championships. Next, Joe played Major Junior in Swift Current and accumulated 133 points in 72 games the 1986-87 season. Joe was named the WHL East Division Rookie of the Year and was drafted 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques. He would have been drafted higher, but his size and speed were a concern.

Former junior rival, and Team Canada linemate, Trevor Linden recalls Joe in junior: “Nothing really bothered Joe or got him off his game. He was very solid and a very good two-way player and worked very hard in all the areas of the ice … Joe leads by his actions. He’s just a great player. A good, all-around player. He’s highly-skilled and very quick. He’s got a great shot”

Joe’s next junior season, he accumulated a remarkable 160 points in 64 games and was named the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year. He also collected a Gold Medal as a member of Canada’s junior team that winter.

But, Joe’s glory seasons in junior were followed by humbling years in Quebec. His first NHL season, Quebec stumbled to a pathetic 27 wins and 46 losses. The 19-year-old was one of the few bright spots with a respectable 62 points in 70 games. The following three seasons, the Nordiques totaled: 12 wins and 61 losses; 16 wins and 50 losses; and 20 wins and 48 losses. Yet, Joe tallied a remarkable 102, 109 and 94 points (That last year, he played in only 69 games.).

Martin Gelinas was briefly Joe’s team-mate in Quebec.

“He’s a great person,” remembers Marty. “A down-to-earth kind of guy. Off-ice he’s got this quality where all the guys like him and want to be with him. And I think he’s one of the top three or four players in the NHL right now. Skill-wise when I played with him, he was unbelievable. He’s a great passer. He’s got great vision. He reads the ice so well. It seems like when he came to Colorado, he stepped it up a notch or two. He became an All-star player. He was a great player before and he’s become one of the best players in the league.”

Jyrki Lumme played against Sakic when he was with Montreal. He describes the difference between Joe then and now: “Now he has better players around him, so he doesn’t have to do everything himself. Back in Quebec, he was pretty much the only guy. When you have a guy like that, and you put some good players with him, he’s going to make everybody so much better.”

Hard work was the major reason for Joe’s improvement. He decided to increase both his speed and strength, after being cut from the 1991 World Cup team. The following summer, he practiced plyometrics. This is a jumping, hopping and bounding technique that builds explosiveness  in the legs.

Canucks’ defenseman Grant Ledyard marvels at Sakic’s speed: “He plays at a very high level. Anyone who can skate as fast as they can go and handle the puck so smoothly as he does, you have to respect. And he’s so level-headed. He holds the puck to the perfect time and he’ll make that great pass. Not many of his passes will get knocked down or taken away. He puts it where he should. In the last minutes of the game, he makes great plays. Whether they’re down or they’re up. He’s just a great, great player.”

The 5’11”, 185 pound Sakic also built himself into one of the league’s strongest (pound for pound) players. He can bench press more than 300, and squat more than 400 pounds.

Goalie Corey Hirsch notes Sakic’s toughness: “Joey is very hard-nosed and quick. He’s got a quick release. If the puck’s in the corner, he’s hard after it. He doesn’t let you beat him to it. When he’s got the puck, it’s off his stick. Boom! Smart! He’s a really good hockey player.”

Jyrki Lumme agrees: “He’s just a great talent and he plays the price too. He really wants to be the best, just like Paul Kariya. They’re not the biggest guys, but they don’t give up. A great talent level with a great work ethic. You can’t ask anything more. They get their noses dirty. They don’t give up the puck just because the other guy might be bigger. They battle for the puck with their skills and speed.”

Joe also worked on his two-way game. Brian Bellows played against Sakic when he was with the Canadiens. “He’s a supreme offensive player who’s really developed his defensive skills,” Bellows says. “One of the all around best players in league.”

Another reason for Joe’s improvement was his international experience. This was because Quebec was at the bottom of the league, and didn’t make the playoffs most years. So, Joe was selected to represent his country. One post-season, he helped Canada win the Silver Medal by scoring 11 points in 10 games. Two years later, he helped Canada finish fourth, and the year after that he led Canada to the Gold Medal.

Finally, Quebec started to turn things around. Their high draft picks, plus the players they received for Eric Lindros were paying off. The Nords achieved 47 wins and 27 losses and Joe had 105 points. But, the next year, Joe had 92 points and Quebec fell to 34 wins and 42 losses.

Then, the strike-shortened season, Quebec rebounded to an impressive 30 and 13 record and Joe tallied 62 points in 47 games. Also, in the playoffs against New York, Joe scored two game-winning goals and had a third called back.

Things turned around completely by the following summer, when Marcel Aubut sold the Nordiques to Comsat Corp. Then, the Colorado management traded for: veteran characters Claude Lemieux and Mike Keane, offensive defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh and all-star goalie Patrick Roy. The result was 47 wins and 25 losses.

That was also the season that Joe’s play really came together. Joe tallied 120 points and was behind only Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in the scoring race. But, more important, Sakic played his best against the better teams, and was second in league in short-handed goals.

Arturs Irbe explains why Sakic can be such a force: “An explosive guy. Very quick hands. An unbelievable release. His shot is the shortest snapshot I’ve seen and the hardest one. He might not have the hardest shot in the league but the quickest release. I don’t know if there’s anybody better to get the shot off, and it’s comparable to a slap shot.”

“What happens is he holds onto the puck, and knowing he has the fast release, you always have to be in the right position and far out enough to make a stop. And he waits and waits and he keeps you on edge. And then he passes, and a often there’s no time to recover and to get to the pass, and if it’s a one-timer, a lot of times it’s in. He keeps you on edge all the time.”

In the playoffs, Sakic scored 18 goals and 16 points in 22 games (He was within one goal of the all-time, single-season mark for playoff goals. He also set a playoff record with six game-winning goals.). Colorado won the Cup and Joe received 9 out of 10 first place votes to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

“He went to a new level of leadership,” coach Mark Crawford told Damien Cox. “We added some experienced guys who had won … and I think they really helped Joe’s game. They showed him there’s more than one way to lead … He sensed those guys knew when it was time to crank it up and when to rise to the occasion, and that’s what we got from him.”

Last season (1996-97), Sakic was hampered by injury and played in only 65 games. He tallied 74 points.

But, Joe played well in the playoffs, scoring 8 goals and 17 assists in 17 games. Once again, Sakic’s patience had paid off.

A patience that will guarantee him sainthood in the Hockey Hall of Fame.


by Ron Spence

It’s been going on a month since Detroit hoisted the Stanley Cup, a week since the Kings hired a new coach, and the Islanders are now looking for one of their own.
Thinking of these three teams, reminds me of one of hockey’s finest gentlemen, Dave Lewis.
Dave played with the Islanders from 1973-74 until 1979-80, when he was traded to the Kings. He played in L.A. from 1979-80 until 1982-83, then to New Jersey for three years, and finally a season and a bit in Detroit, before retiring during the 1987-88 season.
Dave was an assistant coach in Detroit for 15 seasons, under three coaches, and had his name engraved on the Cup twice as an assistant. He succeeded Scotty Bowman in 2002, a month after Bowman had won a record-ninth Stanley Cup. Lewis had 48-victory seasons in 2002-03 and 2003-04, but his contract wasn’t renewed when his teams didn’t advance beyond the second round.
Lewis coached the Bruins during the 2006-07 season, and was fired when Boston didn’t reach the post-season. And last season, he was named an assistant by Marc Crawford, but when Crawford left, so did Dave.

Dave Lewis has thus been in the NHL for well over three and a half decades, and has coached and played with some of the best players in the game’s history.
A few years back I talked to him about some of these stars.

The following is an excerpt from an article which I wrote, and was published by Vancouver’s Sports Vue magazine:


On bottom-feeding teams, Marcel Dionne still accumulated a remarkable 1771 points in 1348 games. He played in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York from 1971 to 1989. He won the Art Ross Trophy once and was the runner up three times.

“The first thing,” Lewis says, “Marcel was very exciting. He was quick, skilled, and very dangerous in the offensive zone. Marcel wasn’t a big guy but he had very outstanding lateral movement. He could beat a defenseman or two just going laterally. And I think Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor really complimented Marcel in his offensive production. Charlie Simmer was just a natural goal scorer from 10 or 12 feet in. It seemed any time he had the puck close to the goalie he could find a way to get it in. Dave Taylor on the other hand was the ultimate worker. He was the guy to go in and forecheck, hit players, digging pucks out for Marcel. But, Marcel had great vision. All these players have a tremendous vision of the ice.”


Mike Bossy entered the league a half a decade after Dionne. He played from 1977-78 to 1986-87. His career was hampered by a back injury, but he tallied 1126 points in 752 games. Bossy won four Stanley Cups and the Conn Smythe Trophy with the Islanders.

”My analogy of him,” Lewis explains, “is a shark just waiting to feed on other teams’ goaltenders. Very dangerous. Outstanding shot. He always knew where the goal was from the marks on the ice. He knew if the goalie was a standup goalie or a flopping goalie and would shoot accordingly. He never missed the net. He didn’t have the lateral movement like Marcel. He’d put the puck through you and slip by you. He was a very slippery-type player. Marcel used the ice more, but Mike would patrol down the right side and rarely get on the other side of the rink.”


Bryan Trottier was Bossy’s linemate. He played from 1975-76 to 1993-94 and accumulated 1410 points in 1238 games. He won the Art Ross Trophy once and was the runnerup a second year. Like Bossy, Trottier won both the Calder and Conn Smythe Trophies. Because of his aggressive play, Trottier never won the Lady Byng like Dionne and Bossy. But, he was the runnerup for the Frank J. Selke Trophy. And as Dionne had been nominated for the Hart Trophy (for the value to his team), Trottier won the award once and was a runner-up twice.

”Bryan was more of a bulldog type,” Lewis continues, “where he’d go right through you. He’d challenge you physically. He would go to the net and defy you to move him. He would get into traffic and make plays. He’d draw two players to him and feed Bossy. That was more his style. He was more a strong, bull-headed player who would challenge the other team to stop him.

“Try ‘n stop me!” was his attitude.

As Trottier and Bossy were Calder winners, Stevie Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov were runners-up. Yzerman entered the NHL in 1983-84 and accumulated 1755 points in 1514 games before retiring after the 2005-06 campaign. Fedorov joined Detroit in 1990-91, has played on three other teams to date, and had 1146 points in 1196 games by  last April.


According to Lewis, Yzerman is ”kind of a cross between Marcel and Brian. Stevie is highly-skilled. Has tremendous vision of the ice. And he also has that determination. But, he has that ability to beat you one-on-one. He doesn’t go through you as much as around you like a Bossy. But, he also challenges you.

He says, ‘Try and stop me!’

That’s been his strength. His skating is something when he’s going. He’s just dancing on the ice. He has Marcel’s lateral movement. He can beat you one-on-one. The puck finds a way to go in for him.”


Like Trottier, Fedorov has been rewarded for both his defense and offense. He has been a runner-up for the Art Ross Trophy and has won, and been the runner-up for, the Frank J. Selke Trophy. And like Dionne, he has won the Lester B. Pearson Award.

“Federov is a tremendously skilled skater, a power skater,” Lewis concludes. “And tremendous hands. He can go through you. He can go around you. He can beat you one-on-one. He can take the puck from behind your net to the other end. He’s one of the few guys who can do it now, in today’s game with such great skaters as there are. He’s one of the best skaters is the league.”


So, who’s the best of these legends? Lewis won’t say.

He just smiles that, “They’re all great players and all of them will be in the Hall of Fame.”

But, he’ll admit who was the best he played against.

“I remember playing against Bobby Orr,” he grins, “and I was on the left side and he went around me like I was standing still.”


By Ron Spence

Who is the longest-serving captain, of any team, in North American major league sports history?

Steve Yzerman

Prior to the 1986-87 season, the twenty-one-year-old was named the captain of the Red Wings, and continuously wore the “C” until the end of the 2005-06 campaign.

In Detroit, “Stevie Y” is simply known as “The Captain.”