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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

1992-93: the last scoring bonanza

The 1992-93 season was unlike anything seen before, or after, in terms of individual scoring efforts. Sure, Mario Lemieux won the scoring title with 160 points, good for the 13th all-time highest single season total. And he did it in only 60 games, having missed part of the season due to chemotherapy treatment.

In terms of all players, 21 individual NHLers scored 100 or more points during the season. 14 of these players recorded what would be career high points totals, with four others recording the second highest totals of their career. The three players who weren’t in this category were Lemieux, Joe Sakic (105 points) and Brett Hull (101 points). The high-scoring 1980s, surprisingly, didn’t see this breadth of 100 point individual scorers, and the 1990s would see the 100-point club members steadily decline as the dead-puck era would soon be upon the world:

  • 1990-91 - 10 players

  • 1991-92 - 9

  • 1993-94 - 8

  • 1994-95 - 0 (lockout shortened season of 48 games)

  • 1995-96 - 12

  • 1996-97 - 2

  • 1997-98 - 1

  • 1998-99 - 3

  • 1999-00 - 0

The 2004-05 lockout helped rid the NHL of the obstruction that caused the dead puck era, with seven players breaking the 100 point barrier in 2005-06. By the 2010s individual scoring exploits were down again, although as of writing, there are eight players in the 2021-22 season over 100 points. Scoring may be coming back, but it is unlikely the NHL will ever equal the magical 1992-93 season for individual scoring exploits.

Card 345 - John LeClair

A left winger, LeClair was drafted 33rd overall by Montreal in 1987. Drafted out of Vermont high school, LeClair played four seasons at the University of Vermont before turning pro in 1990-91, playing 10 games with the Habs, scoring two goals and seven points.

The following season he played 52 games with Montreal, becoming a full-time NHLer for the 1992-93 season, where he scored 19 goals and 44 points. In the 1993 playoffs the Habs went on an unlikely run and won the Stanley Cup, with LeClair contributing four goals and 10 points. Two of those goals were back-to-back overtime winners in Games 3 and 4 of the Finals versus Los Angeles.

Early in the lockout shortened 1994-95 season, LeClair was traded to Philadelphia with Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne for Mark Recchi. Split between the Canadiens and Flyers, he scored 26 goals and 54 points in 46 games and was named a first-team all-star. Over the next five seasons in Philly, LeClair scored 40+ goals each season, including three-straight 50 goal seasons, and three seasons of 90+ points. In 1996-97 LeClair led the NHL with a +44 rating, finishing sixth in Hart Trophy voting. As part of the Legion of Doom line with Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg, LeClair was a four time all-star (one first and three second team nods). In 1997 he made his second Stanley Cup Finals appearance, scoring nine goals and 21 points in 19 games as the Flyers were swept by Detroit.

Throughout the early 2000s LeClair would miss significant time, playing in only 16 games in 2000-01 and 35 games in 2002-03. When healthy, he was able to contribute offensively, averaging 20+ goals and 50+ points in campaigns where health was not an issue.

Following the 2004-05 lockout, LeClair signed with interstate rivals Pittsburgh after his contract was bought out by the Flyers. In his first season with the Penguins, he scored 22 goals, the ninth and final time he would break the 20 goal barrier. LeClair’s career ended in December 2006 after 21 games when he was released by the Penguins.

In 16 NHL seasons, LeClair played in 967 games, scoring 406 goals and 819 points. He played in five straight all-star games (1996 to 2000) and was an assistant captain with the Flyers from 1999 to 2006. LeClair was the first American NHLer to score 50+ goals in three straight seasons, and unsurprisingly was named to the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. In retirement he has kept a low profile, but occasionally pops up on Twitter shitposting former teammates.

YouTube clip: scoring four goals against Vancouver in a November 1998 game.

Card 346 - Mark Recchi

A right winger, Recchi was drafted 67th overall by Pittsburgh in 1988. Drafted at the age of 19, he had played three full seasons in the WHL, scoring 61 goals and 154 points in his draft season. Recchi turned pro immediately following the draft, scoring 50 goals and 99 points with Muskegon in the IHL, while also appearing in 15 games with the Pens, scoring two points.

1989-90 was his first full NHL season, with Recchi scoring 30 goals and 67 points, finishing fifth in Calder Trophy voting. The following season he broke out offensively, finishing fourth in NHL scoring with 40 goals and 113 points. His scoring continued into the playoffs, with 10 goals and 34 points in 24 games as the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup. Continuing his torrid scoring into the 1991-92 season was not enough to keep Recchi in Pittsburgh, as in February 1992 he was traded to Philadelphia with Brian Benning and a 1st round pick for Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelsson and Ken Wregget. Recchi finished with 43 goals and 97 points, and was named a second team all star.

1992-93 saw Recchi post a career high 50 goals and 123 points, good for only tenth in league scoring. In February 1995 he was traded to Montreal in the John LeClair trade (detailed above). He scored 30+ goals and 75+ points twice with the Habs before he was sent back to Philadelphia in March 1999 for Dainius Zubrus and two draft picks. During his second stint with the Flyers (1999 to 2004), Recchi scored 20+ goals each season and led the league in assists with 63 in 1999-00, a season in which he finished sixth in Hart Trophy voting.

Following the 2004-05 lockout, Recchi rejoined the team that drafted him, Pittsburgh, scoring 57 points in 63 games before a deadline trade to Carolina for prospects and a draft pick. He scored only seven points in 20 regular season games with the Hurricanes, but turned up in the playoffs, scoring 16 points in 25 games to help Carolina win its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Recchi returned to Pittsburgh for a third time in 2006-07, playing a season and a half before being claimed by Atlanta in December 2008. He scored 40 points in 53 games with the Thrashers and signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent the following season. At the 2008 deadline Recchi was moved to Boston, scoring 23 goals and 61 points between the Lightning and Bruins, the 15th and final time he scored 20+ goals in his career.

He played two more full seasons in Boston, winning his third Stanley Cup at age 42 in 2011, contributing 15 points in 25 playoff games. Recchi retired following the Cup win.

In 22 NHL seasons, Recchi played in 1652 games (8th all-time), scoring 577 goals (9th), 956 assists (15th) and 1533 points (13th). Perhaps his most interesting stat is that he finished his career with an even plus/minus rating. Recchi played in seven all-star games and was an assistant captain with four different teams (Flyers, Canadiens, Penguins and Bruins).

In 2007-08 he became a part owner of the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL and has worked in NHL front offices as an advisor or assistant coach with Dallas (2012-14) and Pittsburgh (2014-2020), and is currently an assistant coach with New Jersey. Recchi was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

YouTube clip: scoring a hat trick for Flyers in November 2001 game versus Washington. This was his first hat trick with the Flyers.

Card 347 - Dan Currie

A left winger, Currie was drafted 84th overall by Montreal in 1986 out of Sault Ste. Marie. He played two more seasons with the Greyhounds, scoring 50 goals and 109 points in his final junior season. Currie turned pro with Cape Breton in 1988-89, playing two full seasons before earning his first call up to the big team during the 1990-91 season, playing five games. During that season in the AHL Currie led the league with 50 goals and was named a second team all star.

From 1991 to 1993 he played in 12 games with the Oilers, scoring one goal, while racking up two 90+ point seasons in Cape Breton and winning the Calder Cup in 1993. Following the Calder Cup victory, Currie signed as a free agent with Los Angeles, and played in five games that season with the Kings, scoring one goal and two points; those would prove to be his final NHL games.

From 1994 to 1998 Currie played in the IHL with four different franchises before playing the 1998-99 season in Germany. He returned to North American in the early 2000s for two seasons with Bakersfield in the WCHL before ending his pro career in Europe with one season in Italy and a final season in 2002-03 in the UK.

In four NHL seasons, Currie played in 22 games, scoring two goals and three points. He averaged just over a point-per-game during his long AHL/IHL career, with 750 points in 748 games. During the 2004-05 season he played senior hockey with the Dundas Real McCoys. Currie has since moved into coaching, first in the OJHL with Georgetown and Milton, and then with Windsor in the OHL as a scout from 2014 to 2019. Currie is currently the director of scouting and player personnel with Oshawa.

YouTube clip: scoring on beautiful individual effort in 1992 AHL game with Cape Breton

Card 348 - Ulf Dahlen

A left winger, Dahlen was drafted 7th overall by the New York Rangers in the 1985 draft. At the time it was the highest a Swedish player had ever been selected in the modern NHL draft, to be surpassed in 1989 by Mats Sundin going first overall.

Dahlen played two seasons of pro hockey in Sweden before coming to North America in 1987-88, scoring 29 goals and 52 points in his rookie season with the Rangers, finishing sixth in Calder voting. Late in his third season on Broadway he was traded to Minnesota for Mike Gartner. During the 1990-91 season with the North Stars Dahlen scored 21 goals as the team made a surprise run to the Stanley Cup FInals, with Dahlen contributing eight points in 15 games.

The two seasons following the 1991 playoffs saw Dahlen break out offensively with seasons of 36 and 35 goals, and a career-high 74 points in 1992-93. He moved with the franchise to Dallas, and was traded to San Jose in exchange for Mike Lalor and Doug Zmolek late in his inaugural season in Texas. As part of another Cinderella team, Dahlen scored 6 goals in 14 games in the 1994 playoffs as the Sharks defeated Detroit in seven games before losing to Toronto in seven in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. The following season the Sharks pulled another first round upset, this time over division champion Calgary, with Dahlen totaling nine points in 11 games.

An assistant captain from 1994 to 1996, his numbers suffered on a young team, and in January 1997 Dahlen was sent to Chicago as part of the package that landed the Sharks goalie Ed Belfour. Dahlen finished the season with the Hawks and then returned to Sweden for two seasons with HV71, being named the Swedish league’s best player and an all-star in 1998.

He returned to the NHL for the 1999-2000 season with Washington, playing three seasons with progressively increasing points totals, capped in 2001-02 with 23 goals and 52 points. 2002-03 would be his final NHL season, returning to Dallas to play 63 games, scoring 37 points.

In 14 NHL seasons Dahlen played in 966 games, scoring 301 goals and 655 points. Shortly after retiring Dahlen was an assistant coach with Sweden for the 2004 World Championships and the 2005 World Cup. He ventured back to the NHL for a third time in 2005-06, first as a scout then as an assistant coach with Dallas. Since the late 2000s he has coached several franchises in Sweden, most recently as an assistant with Timra from 2020-21. Dahlen was named to the Swedish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

YouTube clip: scoring the double overtime winner in Game 2 of the 1994 Western Conference Quarter-Finals against Calgary

Card 349 - Rob Ray

A right winger, Ray was drafted 97th overall by Buffalo in 1988, having completed his third season with Cornwall in the OHL. He turned pro following the draft, playing the 1988-89 season with Rochester in the AHL, scoring 29 points in 74 games while accumulating a whopping 446 penalty minutes. Ray likely would have bested that total the following season, racking up 335 penalty minutes in only 43 games, but he was called up to Buffalo and played 27 games with the Sabres, scoring two goals and earning 99 minutes in penalties. Ray doesn’t have a lot in common with Mario Lemieux, but both can claim to have scored on the first shot of their first shift in the NHL.

1990-91 was Ray’s best season offensively, scoring eight goals and 16 points while also leading the NHL with 350 penalty minutes. Over the next decade in Buffalo he showed remarkable durability for an enforcer, playing 68+ games seven times, recording 200 penalty minutes or more in all but two seasons, with one of those being the lockout shortened 1994-95 season.

1998-99 was another memorable season for Ray as he led the league in penalty minutes for a second time and won the King Clancy Award, awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. Ray was indeed a leader for Buffalo, holding the title of assistant captain from 1997 until 2003, when he was traded to division rival Ottawa for future considerations.

In the mid-2000s the Senators were a skilled team that were known to lack toughness, so bringing in Ray was an effort to bolster their reputation in time for the playoffs. Ray played five regular season games and none in the playoffs as the Senators were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals by New Jersey.

He was without a contract until February 2004 when he re-signed with Ottawa, playing the final six games of his NHL career, scoring a goal in his final NHL game against Toronto.

In 15 NHL seasons Ray played in 900 games, scoring 41 goals and 91 points while recording 3207 penalty minutes, good for sixth all-time. He squared off in 237 total fights in his career, with Tie Domi proving his most frequent dance partner with 13 bouts. In retirement he has worked in broadcasting with the Sabres and coaches youth hockey in upstate western New York.

YouTube clip: absolutely feeding it to a fan that tried to jump the Sabres bench during a 1992 game in Quebec. As a bonus, revel in the top 10 fights of his career and full appreciate why the ‘Rob Ray Rule’ , which requires players to have a tie-down strap on their jersey, was invented.

Card 350 - Steve Smith

A defenceman, Smith was drafted 111th overall by Edmonton in 1981. Born in Glasgow, but having moved to Canada at a young age, Smith played two additional seasons with London in the OHL before turning pro with Moncton of the AHL in the 1983-84. Smith played his first two NHL games in 1984-85, becoming a full-fledged NHLer on the Oilers dynasty the following season, playing in 55 games and scoring 24 points.

Smith won his first career Stanley Cup during that rookie season, with that playoff high followed by one of the lowest moments in any NHL player's career. During the 1986 Smythe Division Semi-Finals, in Game 7 against the rival Calgary Flames, Smith scored the game winning goal into his own net during the third period. Even worse, this moment came on his 23rd birthday.

Smith came back from this moment by setting career-highs in 1987-88 with 12 goals and 55 points while recording 284 penalty minutes. He won three more Stanley Cups (1987, 88 and 90), scoring 15 points in 22 games during the 1990 playoffs, while also leading the playoffs with a +15 rating.

1990-91 was Smith’s final season in Edmonton, scoring 54 points and playing in his first all-star game. Prior to the start of the next season he would be traded to Chicago for Dave Manson and a draft pick. In his first season in Chicago Smith recorded a career-high 304 penalty minutes and went to his fourth Stanley Cup Finals, ending up on the losing side for the first time in his career. 1991-92 saw Smith best his career high points total with 57, however over the next four seasons he would play in more than 50 games only once due to injuries.

Smith retired following the 1996-97 season and became an assistant coach with Calgary for the 1997-98 season. The lure of the game brought him out of retirement for the 1998-99 season, suiting up for the Flames. Smith managed 69 games during his first season back, but injuries again took a toll as he would play only 33 games with the Flames over his final two seasons, retiring in December 2000.

In 16 NHL seasons, Smith played in 804 games, scoring 72 goals and 375 points while accumulating 2139 penalty minutes. His second retirement saw Smith start as a scout with Chicago from 2008 to 2010 before stepping back behind the bench with Edmonton (2010-14), Carolina (2014-18) and Buffalo (2018-21). He is currently an assistant coach with Hartford in the AHL.

YouTube clip: one of the tougher defencemen in the 1990s, Smith was part of the Chuck Norris Division battles. This clip sees him getting escorted off the ice during a brawl with Toronto in January 1992 after taking some serious damage in a pile up. Also watch Stu Grimson and Mike Keenan in fine form in this video.

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