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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

A Cup winning goal , an unbelievable assist and a one-time GOAT

We have hit card # 101 and are officially 1/7th of the way through the 1991-92 Upper Deck hockey series. Aside from one brief jaunt into some random rookies, we are finally into base set cards. As the title teases, the six players featured in this post include a German defenceman who scored a Stanley Cup winning goal, a player who scored an unbelievable assist, and one of the best US-born defenceman of all-time.

Card 101 - Bob Essensa

Essensa was drafted 69th overall (nice) by the Winnipeg Jets in 1983. He would play four full seasons with Michigan State, winning a NCAA title in 1986 and making the all-academic team three times.

He would turn pro in 1988-89, appearing in 20 games, before his first full season the next year, when he would win 18 games and be named to the all-rookie team. Essensa would continue to raise his games, finishing third in Vezina voting and leading the league in shutouts in 1991-92. 1992-93 would see a career high 33 wins, good for fifth in the league.

However, by late 1994 he would be traded to Detroit as part of a four play swap that saw goalie Tim Cheveldae go to Winnipeg. Essensa would play 13 games in 1993-94 for Detroit, but then be the odd man out in a goalie trio in Motown with Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood, spending time in the minors.

A trade to Edmonton in June 1996 would see Essensa end up back in the NHL, serving as Curtis Joseph’s backup. When Joseph left for Toronto before the 1998-99 season, Essensa would take over as starter until the Oilers acquired Tommy Salo. Over the last three years of his career Essensa would play in Phoenix, Vancouver and Buffalo before retiring in 2001-02.

In his 12-year career Essensa boasted a record of 174-176-47, with a 3.15 GAA and .895 save percentage. He has been a goalie coach for the Boston Bruins since 2003.

YouTube clip: Essenssa had to dress as a backup for a Bruins game in 2015 when starter Tuukka Rask was injured in warm up.

Card 102 - Uwe Krupp

The 6’6” German defenceman was drafted 214th overall by Buffalo in 1983. He would play in Germany until his North American debut in 1986-87, split between AHL Rochester and Buffalo. Starting in 1986-87, Krupp would play six season in Buffalo, including a career best 1990-91 season, where he scored 12 goals, 44 points and played in the NHL All-Star game.

In October 1991 he would be packaged with Pierre Turgeon to the NY Islanders for Pat LaFontaine. He would spend three seasons in Long Island before a trade to Quebec in 1994, which allowed the Islanders to swap first round picks and move up to draft Brett Lindros.

In his one season in Quebec, Krupp would score a hat trick (he only scored 69 goals in 729 games) before transferring to Colorado. He would be a key part of the 1996 Cup winning team, scoring 4 goals and 16 points in the playoffs, including the Cup-winning goal in triple overtime versus Florida.

In the latter part of his career Krupp would be claimed by Nashville in the expansion draft, then play a handful of games with Detroit, missing significant time due to a back injury. He would play enough games with Detroit in 2001-02 to get his name on the Cup a second time. His career would end after four games with Atlanta the following season; for his career he played 729 games, scoring 69 goals and 281 points.

Krupp coached the German national team from 2004-2011 and currently coaches Kolner Haie in the German league. Also, let's admire the great action shot on the back of the card, catching Krupp in full extension.

YouTube clip: the famous Cup winning goal from 1996.

Card 103 - Pelle Eklund

Eklund was drafted 161st overall by Philadelphia in 1983. The Sweden native would make his NHL debut in 1985-86, scoring 15 goals and 66 points, finishing third in rookie scoring and fifth in Calder voting.

As part of the Flyers squad that made the 1987 Cup final he would finish second on the team in playoff scoring with 7 goals and 27 points in 26 games. He would play nine total seasons for Philadelphia, recording a career-high 69 points in 1989-90 and 1990-91.

In March 1994 he would be traded to Dallas for an eighth round pick; he would play only 5 games in Dallas before heading back to Sweden. Eklund would play for Leksand from 1994 to 1999, winning league MVP in 1994-95. In total he played 594 games in the NHL, recording 120 goals, 455 points and only 109 penalty minutes.

Eklund would return to the NHL as a scout, working in Phoenix, Montreal and Edmonton. He was most recently named a scout for the NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken.

YouTube clip: splitting the Habs D and scoring while falling down in the 1987 semi-finals.

Card 104 - Christian Ruuttu

The Finnish centre was drafted 134th overall by Buffalo in the 1983 draft. He would arrive in North America for the 1986-87 season, scoring 22 goals and 65 points, finishing sixth in Calder voting. The following season was his best statistically, recording 26 goals and 71 points, finishing second in team scoring and playing in that season’s All-Star game.

Ruuttu would play six seasons for the chronically underachieving Sabres before being involved in a bizarre series of off-season trades in 1992 that would result in Buffalo landing Dominik Hasek and Ruuttu going to Chicago.

Ruuttu would play two and a half seasons as a Blackhawk, recording a career high 134 penalty minutes in 1993-94. In March 1995 he would be traded to Vancouver straight up for Murray Craven, playing in 25 games for the Canucks.

For 1995-96 he would head back to Europe, first playing in Sweden and then Switzerland and Finland, retiring after the 1998-99 season. He won a Finnish league title in 1997-98 and was inducted in the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. Upon retirement he would become the GM of the Espoo Blues from 2000-05 before taking on a European scouting role with Phoenix. He has been a scout for Los Angeles since 2013.

Worth noting is the gloveless-hold that Hartford's Sylvain Cote has on Ruuttu on the front of the card. An obvious penalty today, a good hockey play 30 years ago.

YouTube clip: an absolute beauty no-look, between-the-legs, drop-assist to Phil Housley, which the NHL ranked as the # 2 assist of all-time.

Card 105 - Kevin Dineen

The brother of NHLers Gord and Peter, and the son of NHL coach Bill, Kevin Dineen was drafted 56 overall by Hartford in 1982. The right winger would play two seasons of college hockey with Denver before making his NHL debut in 1984-95, scoring 25 goals and 41 points in 57 games.

In seven seasons as a Whaler, Dineen would record nearly a point per game, earning Hart and All-Star votes and playing in the 1988 and 1989 All-Star games. He would score a career high 45 goals and 89 points in 1988-89.

At the start of the 1991-92 season Dineen would be traded to Philadelphia, where his father would take over as coach halfway through the season. His production would drop off statistically in his five seasons as a Flyer, and he would be traded back to Hartford just after Christmas 1995 for a pair of draft picks.

He would take over the captaincy in Hartford, and become Carolina’s first captain as the team transferred for the 1996-97 season. He would play two seasons in Raleigh before signing as a free agent with Ottawa for the 1999-2000 season. He would be claimed by Columbus in 2000 expansion draft and play parts of three seasons for the Blue Jackets before retiring in 2002-03.

For his career Dineen played in 1188 games, scoring 355 goals and 760 points. He also earned 2229 penalty minutes, good for 39th all-time. After retirement he has coached in both the AHL and NHL (head coach with Florida from 2011-2014) and is currently the head coach of the San Diego Gulls in the AHL.

YouTube clip: Dineen scoring the final goal in Hartford Whalers franchise history.

Card 106 - Phil Housley

Housley was drafted 6th overall by Buffalo in 1982. The defenceman would jump to the NHL as an 18-year old, scoring 19 goals and 66 points, earning an all-rookie team nod and finishing second in Calder voting to Steve Larmer.

In eight seasons in Buffalo he would score at nearly a point-per-game pace, recording a career high 29 goals in 1987-88, which would start a string of six straight 20 goal seasons. In the 1990 off-season he would be traded to Winnipeg with two players and 1st round pick (used to select Keith Tkachuk) for Dave Andreychuk and a 1st round pick.

In three seasons as a Jet he would be a second team all-star and Norris Trophy finalist in 1991-92, and score a career high 97 points in 1992-93.

Prior to the 1993-94 season he would be traded to St. Louis for Nelson Emerson and Stephane Quintal. Housley would only play 26 games for the Blues due to injury and would be moved to Calgary in the 1994 off-season for Al MacInnis.

Housley would bounce around the next several seasons, playing one and a half seasons in Calgary and a handful of games in New Jersey before signing with Washington as a free agent in 1996. He would make his only Stanley Cup finals appearance as a Capital in 1998.

After declining production in Washington, Housley would be plucked off waivers by Calgary for the 1998-99 season, where his production would bounce back with seasons of 54 and 55 points. Prior to 2001-02 he would be claimed off waivers again, this time by Chicago, playing almost two seasons with the Hawks before a trade deadline deal to Toronto in 2002-03. He would appear in one regular season and three playoff games as a Leaf before retiring.

In total Housley played 21 seasons in the NHL, appearing in 1495 games, scoring 338 goals and 1232 points. He was the highest scoring US born player until he was surpassed by Mike Modano, and currently ranks fourth all-time in scoring by a defenceman and 23rd all-time in games played. He played in seven All-Star games and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

Shortly after retirement he began coaching high school hockey in his native Minnesota and coached the US World Junior team in 2013, winning a gold medal. He was an assistant coach in Nashville and head coach of Buffalo from 2017-2019. He is currently an assistant coach with Arizona.

YouTube clip: scoring a short-handed goal against Quebec while Buffalo was down 5 on 3.

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