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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Expansion teams' first captains

Playing on an expansion team in a professional sports league is never easy, nor glamorous (unless you played for the Vegas Golden Knights). The 1990s saw the NHL add seven franchises, expanding the league by almost a third. This meant that many jobs were opened for players that may have been passed their prime, but still the desire to play. What this also meant, combined with horrible expansion draft regulations, was that expansion teams did a lot of losing. Like record amounts of losing.

In this week's post we feature two players that were the first captains of expansion franchises, Paul Ysebaert with Tampa Bay and Laurie Boschman with Ottawa. Neither player every qualified as a superstar, but they were veteran voices on teams that had yet to build identities. In honour of them, and others who served similar roles, let's look at the other five players who served as the first team captains for 1990s expansion franchises:

  • San Jose - Doug Wilson. The defenceman was traded from Chicago, where he spent the previous 14 seasons, to the expansion Sharks just before the start of the 1991 season. The Hall of Famer played two seasons in San Jose before retiring and joining the Sharks front office. Wilson has been the Sharks' general manager since 1997.

  • Florida - Brian Skrudland. An eight-year veteran, Skrudland had won two Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens before Florida plucked him from Calgary's roster in the 1993 expansion draft. He would play four seasons with the Panthers (1993-97), helping guide the team to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.

  • Anaheim - Troy Loney. A ten-year veteran who had won two Cups with Pittsburgh, Loney lasted one season as Mighty Ducks captain before a trade to the New York Islanders for Tom Kurvers.

  • Nashville - Tom Fitzgerald. A ten-year veteran, Fitzgerald signed with Nashville as a free agent. He was an original Florida Panther alongside Skrudland, and brought a veteran presence from that experience. Fitzgerald played for the Predators until 2002.

  • Atlanta - Kelly Buchberger. After 12 years with Edmonton, Buchberger was selected by Atlanta in the 1999 expansion draft. A veteran with two Cups, he was traded to Los Angeles before the end of his first season as a Thrasher.

Card 278 - Paul Ysebaert

A centre, Ysebaert was drafted 74th overall by New Jersey in 1984. He played three seasons of college hockey with Bowling Green before turning pro in 1987-88 with Utica in the AHL. Ysebaert played in the AHL until 1990, and in his final season led the league in scoring (105 points), winning league MVP; he also played 10 games with the Devils that season.

In 1990-91 Ysebaert made the NHL for good, playing 11 games with Devils before a trade to Detroit in exchange for Lee Norwood and a draft pick. Between the two teams he scored 19 goals and 40 points. His first full season as a Red Wing saw Ysebaert score career-highs in goals (35) and points (75). He also led the league with a +44 rating and earned Selke Trophy votes. For a follow up, Ysebaert scored 34 goals, but during the 1993 off-season was traded to Winnipeg. He lasted 60 games with the Jets before a trade to Chicago. His time in Chicago would be just as brief, as mid-way through 1994-95 he was traded to Tampa Bay with Rich Sutter for three players.

Opening the 1995-96 season, Ysebaert became the Lightning’s first captain (the franchise did not name a captain for its first three seasons), scoring 16 goals and 31 points. He held the captaincy for three of the next four seasons, as in 1997-98 Mikael Renberg was named captain. After playing part of 1998-99 in the IHL, Ysebaert played the next season in Switzerland, retiring in 2000.

In 11 NHL seasons he scored 149 goals and 336 points. According to Facebook he will shortly be starting a podcast.

YouTube clip: getting robbed by Bill Ranford on a wide open net during his brief time in Chicago.

Card 279 - Laurie Boschman

A centre, Boschman was drafted ninth overall by Toronto in 1979, having played three seasons for Brandon in the WHL. In his third and final season with the Wheat KIngs he scored 66 goals and 149 points. He turned pro as a 19-year old, scoring 16 goals and 48 points. Boschman played parts of two additional seasons with the Leafs before being traded in March 1982 to Edmonton for Walt Poddubny and a prospect.

Boschman lasted 73 games with the Oilers before a trade to Winnipeg just under a year after arriving, this time being exchanged for Willy Lindstrom. The scoring touch he displayed in junior returned when he joined the Jets, with Boschman scoring 28 goals and 74 points in 1984-85. He bested that total the following season with career-highs in goals (32) and points (76). Over the five following seasons with the Jets Boschman would break the 20 goal barrier twice. In addition to scoring he played a physical game, recording 200+ penalty minutes three times with the Jets.

Prior to the start of the 1990-91 season Boschman was traded to New Jersey for Bob Brooke. Rather than report to the Jets, Brooke would retire and the Jets would receive a fifth round draft pick as compensation. Boschman played two seasons with the Devils before being selected by the expansion Ottawa Senators in the 1992 expansion draft.

As the first captain in franchise history for the Senators, Boschman played 70 games, scoring seven goals and 16 points. Three of his seven goals came in a single game, April 10,1993, the second hat trick in franchise history. Boschman would be bought out after the season and subsequently retire, save seven games with the Fife Flyers in Great Britain during the 1994-95 season.

In 14 NHL seasons Boschman played 1009 games, scoring 299 goals and 577 points, also recording 2263 penalty minutes (36th all-time). He currently lives in Ottawa and works for Hockey Ministries International, a Christian-based organization that runs youth hockey camps.

YouTube clip: an interview with the Senators during his final NHL season, discussing his struggles and conflict with coach Rick Bowness.

Card 280 - Dave Manson

Drafted 11th overall by Chicago in 1985, defenceman Manson played one additional season with Prince Albert before turning pro with the Hawks in 1986-87, playing in 63 games, scoring one goal and nine points.

Manson experienced an offensive breakout in his third season, scoring career-highs in goals (18), points (54) and penalty minutes (352). He also led the 1989 playoffs in penalty minutes with 84, as the Hawks made the Wales Conference Finals, losing to eventual Stanley Cup champion Calgary. Over his next four seasons Manson scored 14+ goals three times, 40+ points twice and 200+ penalty minutes three times. During this time he was traded to Edmonton for a draft pick and Steve Smith.

Manson lasted two and a half seasons with the Oilers, most notably recording 12 points in 16 games during the 1992 playoffs as the Oilers were swept by Chicago in the Conference Finals. In March 1994 he was traded to Winnipeg in a swap involving three draft picks, with Mats Lindgren and Boris Mironov headed to Edmonton.

Manson played for the Jets during their final two seasons in Winnipeg, and moved with the franchise to Phoenix, playing 66 games in the desert before a trade to Montreal for Murray Baron and Chris Murray. He played parts of three seasons with the Habs, scoring 34 points in 1997-98, the fifth and final time he would break the 30 point barrier. March 1998 saw Manson headed back to Chicago in a six-player swap; he lasted 101 games with Chicago his second time around, being traded to Dallas in February 2000. During the 2000 playoffs Manson would play in his first and only Stanley Cup Finals, appearing in 23 games that playoff season as the Stars would lose to New Jersey in the Finals.

2000-01 saw Manson sign with Toronto, playing for the Leafs until a November 2001 trade back to Dallas in exchange for Jyrki Lumme. He played his final 34 NHL games with the Stars, retiring in September 2002.

In 16 NHL seasons Manson played in 1103 games, scoring 102 goals and 390 points. He sits 13th all-time, and third amongst defencemen, with 2792 penalty minutes. Manson played in two all-star games (1989 and 1993) and was an assistant captain during his time with both Winnipeg and Edmonton. In the only time he represented Canada internationally, at the 1993 World Championships, Manson scored 10 points in eight games and was named a tournament all-star.

From 2002 to 2009 and 2012 to 2018 he was an assistant coach with Prince Albert in WHL, with a hiatus in between coaching under 18 AAA hockey, also in Prince Albert. Since 2018 he has been an assistant coach with Bakersfield in the AHL.

YouTube clip: taking on Scott Stevens in a legendary Chuck Norris division brawl between Chicago and St. Louis, popularly known as the St. Patrick’s Day Massacre. The year prior, Manson and Stevens had been involved in a fight where Manson was alleged to have bitten Stevens, who responded by eye-gouging Manson.

Card 281 - Dave Chyzowski

A left winger, Chyzowski was drafted second overall by the New York Islanders in 1989 after scoring 56 goals and 104 points in his draft year with Kamloops. He turned pro in 1989-90, playing 34 games with the Islanders, scoring eight goals and 14 points. The following season Chyzowski would play a career-high 56 games, scoring five goals and 14 points. He spent the next four seasons in Isles organization, primarily in the minors but getting into 28 NHL games, scoring two goals and three points.

In the summer of 1995 Chyzowski signed with Detroit, playing the entire season in the AHL with Indianapolis, scoring 44 goals. 1996-97 brought a move to Chicago, playing the final eight games of his NHL career with the Hawks. Chyzowski played the three following seasons in the IHL, and in 2000 moved to Germany to play three seasons before playing four seasons in Austria, where he won a league title in 2005.

Over six NHL seasons Chyzowki played in 126 games, scoring 15 goals and 31 points. In retirement he would work in marketing with his former junior club in Kamloops, moving into coaching in 2019-20 as an assistant with Vancouver in the WHL. In 2021 he became the head coach of Merritt in the BCHL.

YouTube clip: pummeling Joe Cirella in a January 1995 game, in one of Chyzowski’s six career fights.

Card 282 - Shayne Corson

A left winger, Corson was drafted eighth overall by Montreal in 1984. He played two more seasons in the AHL with Hamilton, playing his first three NHL games with the Habs in the 1985-86 season. Corson led the 1986 world juniors tournament in scoring with seven goals and 14 points, winning a silver with Canada and being named to the all-tournament team.

1986-87 was his first full season with Montreal, appearing in 55 games, scoring 12 goals and 23 points. In the playoffs that season Corson scored six goals and 11 points in 17 games as the Habs would lose in the Conference Finals to Philadelphia. In the three seasons between 1988 and 1991, Corson scored 20+ goals and recorded 100+ penalty minutes each season, scoring career highs in goals (31) and points (75) in 1989-90. Corson would repeat his playoff prowess in 1991, scoring nine goals and 15 points in 13 games.

In the summer of 1992 Corson was traded to Edmonton in a package that landed the Habs Vincent Damphousse. He played three seasons with the Oilers, scoring 25 goals in the 1993-94 season. In 1995 Corson left Edmonton as a free agent for St. Louis, with the Oilers receiving future franchise goaltender Curtis Joseph as compensation. The cost of signing Corson was high for St. Louis, and he lasted only parts of two seasons with the Blues before a trade back to Montreal in a five-player swap involving Pierre Turgeon. In his only playoff appearance with the Blues he did score eight goals and 14 points in 13 games.

Corson’s second stint with Montreal lasted almost four seasons, with the forward recording 21 goals and 55 points in the 1997-98 season. That would be Corson’s final season of relative offensive production; in 2000 he signed with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs, playing three seasons before retiring following the 2002-03 season. He would come out of retirement in February 2004 to play for Dallas, recording 10 points in 17 games before retiring for good.

In 19 NHL seasons, Corson played in 1156 games, scoring 273 goals and 693 points. He also racked up 2357 penalty minutes, 29th all-time. Corson played in three all-star games (1990, 94 and 98) and was a captain with both Edmonton and St. Louis.

In retirement Corson has run restaurants in the Toronto area as well as his hometown of Barrie. He has also worked to raise awareness for ulcerative colitis, a disease he managed throughout his career.

YouTube clip: fighting Canucks goalie Bob Mason, and scoring his first NHL goal versus Detroit.

Card 283 - Steve Chiasson

A defenceman, Chiasson was drafted 50th overall by Detroit in 1985. He played a third season with Guelph in OHL, winning a Memorial Cup and being named tournament MVP. Chiasson turned pro in 1986-87, playing in 45 games with the Wings, scoring a goal and five points. The following season he spent time in the AHL, playing in 25 NHL games.

Over six seasons from 1988 to 1994, Chiasson scored 10+ goals five times and 40+ points four times. In addition to offensive production, he played the game with an edge, recording 100+ penalty minutes five times. In the 1992-93 season he recorded a career-high 62 points, earning an invitation to that season's all-star game.

Following the 1993-94 season Chiasson was traded to Calgary for goalie Mike Vernon. In parts of three seasons with the Flames he recorded two seasons of 30+ points. In March 1997 he was traded to Hartford with a third round pick for two draft picks, Hnat Domenichelli and Glen Featherstone. Chiasson moved with the team to Carolina, appearing in only 28 regular season games in the 1998-99 season due to injury. Following the Hurricanes elimination by Boston in the 1999 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, Chiasson was killed in a single-vehicle car accident; it was later determined that alcohol was a factor in the crash.

In 13 NHL seasons, Chiasson played in 751 games, scoring 93 goals and 398 points. He was an assistant captain with both Detroit and Calgary. Carolina annually gives out a trophy in his name to the player that ‘best demonstrates leadership, perseverance, determination and dedication’.

YouTube clip: laying a questionable hit on Peter Lappin and then fighting Minnesota North Stars’ tough guy, Basil McRae.

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