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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

An homage to the power forward

The 1990s was an era where the power forward reigned supreme. Players such as Kevin Stevens, featured below, who could both score and rack up the penalty minutes, were plentiful. As the 90s gave way to the new millennium, the power forward still existed, but they no longer scored at the same rate, or accumulated penalty minutes in the same way. A decrease in scoring across the NHL, as well as an emphasis on avoiding the penalty box, especially fighting majors, changed the power forward. While still a relevant position, it is no longer the glory position it was in the 1990s. Below is an accumulation of players that scored more than 200 goals and recorded more than 1000 penalty minutes during the 90s:

  • Pat Verbeek: 286 goals and 1589 penalty minutes;

  • Brendan Shanahan: 376 goals and 1471 penalty minutes;

  • Rick Tocchet: 264 goals and 1430 penalty minutes;

  • Scott Mellanby: 211 goals and 1406 penalty minutes;

  • Keith Tkachuk: 294 goals and 1400 penalty minutes;

  • Gary Roberts: 235 goals and 1240 penalty minutes;

  • Theo Fleury: 344 goals and 1222 penalty minutes;

  • Owen Nolan: 254 goals and 1215 penalty minutes;

  • Kevin Stevens: 272 goals and 1174 penalty minutes;

  • Claude Lemieux: 248 goals and 1008 penalty minutes.

10 names total above represent the power forward of the 1990s. In contrast, the 2000s boast zero players with 200+ goals and 100+ PIMs (Scott Hartnell is closest at 161 goals and 1001 penalty minutes). The 2010s even less so, as only 5 players total accumulated more than 1000 penalty minutes in the decade, with Wayne Simmonds (231 goals and 956 penalty minutes) and Evander Kane (239 goals and 918 penalty minutes) coming closest to fitting our power forward definition.

Card 153 - Brian Leetch

Drafted ninth overall by the New York Rangers in the 1986 draft, Leetch was the first player born in the state of Texas to be drafted in the NHL. Following the draft he would spend one season at Boston College, being named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and would join the Rangers for 17 games at the end of the 1987-88 season.

In his first full NHL season, Leetch would score 23 goals and 71 points, win the Calder Trophy and be named a first team all-star. After a slight dip in his third second, Leetch would explode the next two seasons: in 1990-91 he would score 16 goals and 88 points, be named a second team all-star and finish fourth in Norris Trophy voting. 1991-92 would see Leetch score 22 goals and 102 points, be named a first team all-star, win the Norris Trophy and finish third in Byng Trophy voting.

Leetch would be a key contributor in the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup victory, leading all playoff scorers in assists (23) and points (34), winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. 1996-97 would see Leetch win his second Norris Trophy and be named a first team all-star for the second time. He would also captain the team from 1997-2000 during Mark Messier’s stint in Vancouver.

Leetch would play 17 seasons total for the Rangers, scoring 20+ goals five times and 70+ points seven times. In June 2003, just before becoming an unrestricted free agent, Leetch would be traded to Edmonton for Jussi Markkanen and a draft pick, however, there was little doubt he would resign with the Rangers, which he did.

With the Rangers fortunes declining in the 2000s, Leetch would be dealt away for real at the March 2004 trade deadline, to Toronto for two prospects, and a first and second round draft pick. He would play the balance of the season and playoffs with the Leafs, signing with Boston following the 2004-05 lockout. In one season with the Bruins, Leetch would score 32 points in 61 games.

Leetch retired after 18 NHL seasons, playing in 1205 games, scoring 247 goals and 1028 points, finishing top-10 among all defencemen in scoring categories. Perhaps more remarkably, he would record only 571 penalty minutes in his career, or just over 30 minutes per season. Leetch is also one of only five defencemen to score 100+ points in a single season. He was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and has been a senior advisor with the Rangers since 2017.

YouTube clip: Leetch's tribute video from the 100 greatest NHL players series.

Card 154 - Kevin Stevens

A left winger, Stevens was drafted 108th overall by Los Angeles in 1983, but he would be traded to Pittsburgh shortly after the draft in exchange for Anders Hakansson. He would play four seasons with Boston College and one season with the US National Team before turning pro.

Stevens would play 40 games for the Pens between 1987 and 1989, also spending time with the aforementioned US National Team and in the IHL. 1989-90 was his first full NHL season, and Stevens would score 29 goals and 70 points. The first four seasons of the 1990s would be Stevens’ peak: he would score 40+ goals and 80+ points each season, scoring career highs in goals in 1992-93 (55), and points (123) and penalty minutes (254) in 1991-92. Stevens would be named a first team all-star once and second team all-star twice and win two Cups with the Pens, leading all playoff scorers in goals in 1991 with 17.

The lockout shortened 1994-95 season saw a significant decline in production and the following season he was traded alongside Shawn McEachern to Boston for Glen Murray and Bryan Smolinski. He would last 41 games in Boston before being traded to Los Angeles for Rick Tocchet. In 1996-97 he would score 14 goals for the Kings before being traded to the New York Rangers for Luc Robitaille. 1998-99 would be his best season with the Rangers, scoring 23 goals and 43 points.

In January 2000 Stevens would enter the NHL/NHLPA’s substance abuse program after an incident in a St. Louis hotel room brought his drug dependency issues to light. In 2000-01 he would return to the NHL with Philadelphia, playing 23 games for the Flyers before being traded to Pittsburgh for John Slaney. In January 2002 Stevens would leave the Pens for personal reasons and subsequently retire.

Over 15 seasons and 874 games Stevens would score 329 goals and 726 points. From 2005-2012 he worked as a scout with the Penguins, returning in that role from 2017-2020. Throughout his career and retirement Stevens battled substance abuse issues, facing criminal charges related to drug trafficking during his time away from the Penguins. Injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, suffered while playing, led to self-medicating and then dependency, all of which is covered gracefully by Dan Robson.

YouTube clip: scoring 4 goals versus Boston in Game 3 of the 1992 Prince of Wales Conference Finals.

Card 155 - Darren Turcotte

The centreman was drafted 114th overall by the New York Rangers in 1986. Turcotte would play four seasons with North Bay in the OHL and parts of two seasons in the IHL before making the NHL full-time in 1989-90. In his first two seasons, Turcotte would set career-highs in goals (32) and points (67), playing in the mid-season all-star game in 1991.

The first four seasons of his career with the Rangers would be his most productive, scoring 25+ goals each season. Early in 1993-94 he would be traded along with James Patrick to Hartford for Steve Larmer, Nick Kypreos, Barry Richter and a draft pick. Turcotte would score 35 points with the Whalers during the 1994-95 lockout shortened season, and would be traded the following season to Winnipeg in exchange for Nelson Emerson. He would last 59 games with the Jets before being traded once more during the season, this time to San Jose for Craig Janney.

Turcotte would play the 1996-97 season with the Sharks before being traded in the 1997 off-season to St. Louis for Stephane Matteau. After a season with the Blues he would be shipped to expansion Nashville, being named one of the team’s first assistant captains. Knee injuries had begun to take their toll on Turcotte, and he would appear in only 49 games for the Predators over their first two seasons before retiring in March 2000.

Over 12 NHL seasons, Turcotte would play in 635 games scoring 195 goals and 411 points. Although born in Boston, Turcotte was raised in North Bay, and he would return to northern Ontario in retirement. He would first coach in NOJHL with Abitibi and North Bay, and since 2010 has been a hockey coach at Nipissing University, mostly recently with the women’s hockey program.

YouTube clip: scoring a beauty shorty against Boston while with Hartford, using the deke made famous by Peter Forsberg one year earlier at the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Card 157 - Dimitri Khristich

A forward, Khristich was selected 120th overall by Washington in the 1988 draft. Since the age of 16 he had played for his hometown team Sokol Kiev in what is current-day Ukraine. In 1990-91 he would come to the NHL, playing in 40 games and scoring 13 goals and 27 points.

In his first three seasons in Washington, Khristich would score 36, 31 and 29 goals, establishing himself as a legitimate scoring threat. After the lockout shortened 1994-95 season, he was traded to Los Angeles with Byron Dafoe for a pair of draft picks.

In two seasons with the Kings, Khristich would score 27 and 19 goals respectively and make his first all-star game appearance in 1997. Prior to the start of the 1997-98 season he would be traded once again alongside Dafoe, this time to Boston for Jozef Stumpel, Sandy Moger and a draft pick. With the Bruins he would score 29 goals in each of his two seasons, adding 71 points in 1998-99, his second highest career total. That season he would play in his second all-star game and lead the league in shooting percentage at 20.1%.

After a career season he would become a free agent, and become a part of history as the first player to have his former team elect to walk away from a salary arbitrator’s decision. He would end up having his rights traded to Toronto for a draft pick, and would score only 15 goals in 80 games for the Leafs before being traded back to Washington in December 2000. After the 2001-02 season he would play two seasons in the KHL and represent Ukraine internationally before retiring in 2004.

Khristich played 12 NHL seasons, appearing in 811 games, scoring 259 goals and 596 points. He is the all-time leader in goals, assists and points for Ukrainian-born NHLers. Khristich has coached in his native Ukraine since retirement, and did a brief stint as coach of Edinburgh in the UK in 2016. Since that time he has been a youth hockey supervisor for a club team in Ukraine.

YouTube clip: scoring a goal against Anaheim during the 1995-96 season, but this clip is more about the jerseys. The Kings are wearing the infamous ‘Burger King’ jersey, and Anaheim is in their Wild Wing jersey which was recently brought back as part of the Reverse Retro jersey release.

Card 158 - Brian Glynn

Glynn, a defenceman, was drafted 37th overall by Calgary in 1986. He would play two seasons in the WHL with Saskatoon before jumping to the NHL for the 1986-87 season, scoring 5 goals and 19 points in his rookie season.

Over his next two pro seasons, Glynn would play in only 10 games for the Flames, spending the rest of his time with Salt Lake City in the IHL, winning the league’s best defenceman award in 1990. Early in the 90-91 season he would be traded to Minnesota for Frantisek Musil. With the North Stars he would score a career-high eight goals, and make a surprise run to the Cup Finals, scoring 8 points in 23 playoff games.

Part-way through the 1991-92 season he would be moved to Edmonton in exchange for David Shaw, recording a career-high 22 points that year and scoring four goals in the playoffs. Glynn would remain with the Oilers until a trade during the 1993-94 season to Ottawa, playing 48 games for the Senators before being claimed off waivers by Vancouver and playing 16 games for the Canucks.

Glynn’s last NHL stop would be Hartford after being claimed in the January 1995 waiver draft. He would play parts of three seasons for the Whalers before being moved to Detroit as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Brendan Shanahan to the Red Wings for Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau and a 1st round pick. He would never play for the Wings, instead playing the 1997-98 season in Germany, the country of his birth.

In 10 NHL seasons Glynn played 431 games, scoring 25 goals and 104 points. He currently lives in his home province of Saskatchewan, where is a police officer in Prince Albert. Also let's appreciate the look on Glynn's face on the front side of the card - maybe the puck is coming directly at him, but it's look of surprise if I ever saw one.

Card 159 - Benoit Hogue

Centre Hogue was drafted 35th overall by Buffalo in 1985. He would play one additional season in the QMJHL and two in the AHL before becoming a full-time NHLer in 1988-89. In his rookie season Hogue would score 14 goals and 44 points.

After three full seasons with the Sabres, Hogue would be sent to the New York Islanders as part of the Pat Lafontaine - Pierre Turgeon swap. In his first season on Long Island (1991-92), Hogue would score a career-high 76 points. In three seasons in New York, he would score 30+ goals each season, and in the 1993 playoffs would score 12 points in 18 games as the Isles would make the Prince of Wales Conference Finals.

Late in the shortened 1994-95 season Hogue would be traded to Toronto for goalie Eric Fichaud. He would play 56 games with the Leafs before a trade to Dallas in early 1996 with Randy Wood in exchange for Dave Gagner.

For the 1998-99 season Hogue signed with Tampa Bay, but would be dealt at the trade deadline back to Dallas; to Hogue’s advantage, the Stars would go on to win the Stanley Cup that postseason. In Hogue’s final three NHL seasons he would bounce from Phoenix (27 games) to Dallas (66 games) to Boston (17 games) to Washington (9 games) before retiring at the end of the 2001-02 season.

In 15 seasons Hogue played in 863 games, scoring 222 goals and 543 points. Since 2010 he has been coaching high-level tournament minor hockey teams in Long Island and runs a business consulting service specializing in credit card processing. Of note is the mugging that Hogue is experiencing on the front picture, his jersey almost being pulled off by Rod Buskas, which in 1991 would not have resulted in penalty.

YouTube clip: scoring on both of his career penalty shot attempts, first on Ron Tugnutt in 1993 and then one on Ron Hextall in 1995.

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