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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Long lost trophies - the Ken McKenzie Trophy

The Ken McKenzie Trophy, named after the co-founder of The Hockey News, was awarded in the International Hockey League (IHL) to the top rookie born in the United States. The trophy was first given out in 1978, awarded to Mike Eruzione of the Toledo Goal-Diggers. Eruzione would become a household name in the United States two years later as part of the Miracle on Ice team at the 1980 Olympics.

Two players featured in this week’s post, Tim Sweeney (1986) and Brian Noonan (1990) both won the award before they became regular NHLers. Paul Ranheim was arguably the most successful NHLer to ever win the Ken McKenzie Trophy, playing over 1000 NHL games and scoring 360 points. Other winners that went on to NHL careers of some significance include Paul Fenton (1983), Mark Mowers (1999) and the final winner, defenceman Brian Pothier (2001) who played 362 NHL games, primarily with Ottawa and Washington.

Ray LeBlanc (1987) is maybe the most infamous player to win the trophy. LeBlanc made his NHL debut at age 27 with Chicago, playing primarily so that the Hawks could protect Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek and Jimmy Waite in the 1992 expansion draft. Rules dictated that the Blackhawks had to expose a goalie with NHL experience, hence why the 27 year-old career minor leaguer made his NHL debut. The year LeBlanc won the trophy he also played in the 1992 Albertville Olympics for the US, being named a tournament all-star.

Card 375 - Tim Sweeney

A left winger, Sweeney was drafted 122nd overall in 1985 by the Calgary Flames. Selected straight from high school in Boston, he stayed local, playing four seasons with Boston College. In his senior season Sweeney scored 73 points in 39 games as team captain, and was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist.

In 1989-90 was his first pro season, racking up 97 points in the IHL with Salt Lake City, earning a second team all-star nod and winning the Ken McKenzie Trophy. Sweeney made his NHL debut with the Flames in 1990-91, playing in 42 games, scoring seven goals and 16 points. He appeared in only 25 NHL games over the next two seasons, split between Calgary and his hometown Boston Bruins, where he signed for the 1992-93 season. Sweeney spent part of the 1991-92 season with the US National Team, representing his country at the 1992 Olympics where he finished tied for first in team scoring with seven points in eight games.

In 1993 Sweeney was claimed by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the expansion draft. His first season as a Mighty Duck was the best of his career, scoring 16 goals and 43 points in a career-high 78 games. He returned to the Bruins following the lockout shortened 1994-95 season, scoring 37 points in 77 games spread over two seasons.

Sweeney’s final NHL season came in 1997-98 with the New York Rangers, scoring 29 points in 56 games. Over eight NHL seasons Sweeney played in 291 games, scoring 55 goals and 138 points. From 2001 to 2005 he was an amateur scout with Minnesota and had also worked as a commentator for Boston College hockey.

YouTube clip: being interviewed by Bruins Alumni TV, which includes some highlights with his time with the Bruins.

Card 376 - Gary Shuchuk

A right winger, Shuchuk was selected by Detroit in the 1988 supplemental draft. He played four seasons of college hockey with Wisconsin, scoring 80 points in 45 games during his senior season as he led the Badgers to a NCAA title (he was also named WCHA player of the year).

Shuchuk’s first pro season was in 1990-91, appearing in six games with the Red Wings, scoring one goal and three points. During his time with the Red Wings organization he played primarily in the AHL, winning a Calder Cup with Adirondack in 1992. In January 1993 he was traded to Los Angeles along with Jimmy Carson in a six-player deal that landed Detroit Paul Coffey. The Kings went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, with Shuchuk scoring two goals and four points in 17 playoff games.

In 1993-94 he played a career-high 56 games with the Kings, scoring three goals and seven points. Shuchuk’s next two seasons would be split between Los Angeles and the IHL, scoring 14 points in 33 games with the Kings in 1995-96.

The late 1990s saw Shuchuk play in the IHL, then set off for Europe, playing in Switzerland, Austria and Germany until 2003, save one season with Orlando in 1999-2000. His final pro season came with Springfield in 1993-94. In 5 NHL seasons, Shuchuk played in 142 games, scoring 13 goals and 39 points.

Shuchuk has been involved heavily in coaching in retirement, at the collegiate level with Wisconsin and Michigan State, junior hockey in NAHL as a head coach and general manager with Janesville and most recently as an assistant coach with Wolfsburg in Germany.

YouTube clip: scoring the overtime winner in 1993 playoffs against the Canucks in Game 5 of Smythe Division Finals. His linemates at the time were two future Hall of Famers, Luc Robitaille and Jari Kurri.

Card 377 - Andre Racicot

A goaltender, Racicot was drafted 83rd overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1989. He had played three seasons in the QMJHL prior to his drafting, turning pro for the 1989-90 with Sherbrooke in the AHL. As a rookie, Racicot won 19 games and shared the Hap Holmes Award for best goalie with teammate JC Bergeron. In that first pro season he also played in his first NHL game, allowing three goals on six shots in 13 minutes of action against Toronto. This earned him the nickname ‘Red Light Racicot’, although his coach would later admit he was hung out to dry by his teammates that game.

Over the next two seasons he shuttled between Fredericton and Montreal, sharing backup duties for Patrick Roy with Bergeron. 1992-93 would be the best season of Racicot’s career, as he finally earned full-time back up duties, and would post a 17-5-1 record. The Habs would win the Cup in 1993, with Racicot appearing in 18 minutes of Game 5 of the Adams Division Semi-Finals against Quebec.

Coming off a Cup win, 1993-94 would be Racicot’s final season in the NHL, playing in 11 games, winning two. He went on to play another decade of pro hockey, making stops in the IHL (Indianapolis, Peoria, Kansas City and Las Vegas), the AHL (Albany), ECHL (Columbus and Greensboro), WPHL (Monroe), WCHL (Bakersfield), a season in Russia and finally two seasons of semi-pro in Quebec, retiring after the 2004-05 season.

In 5 NHL seasons, Racicot played in 68 games, posting a 26-23-8 record, .880 save percentage and 3.50 goals against average. Known for his famous nickname, work has been done recently to look at the deeper statistics and realize that the moniker may not be as fitting as once thought. In retirement Racicot has worked in the mining industry in Nunavut.

YouTube clip: highlights from the game where Racicot recorded his first career shutout, a 3-0 victory over Edmonton in the 1990-91 season.

Card 378 - Jay Mazur

A forward, Mazur was drafted 230th overall by Vancouver in the 1983 draft. He played four seasons of college hockey in Maine, turning pro in the 1987-88 season, split between Flint in IHL and Fredericton in the AHL. From 1988 to 1992 he played for Milwaukee in the IHL, appearing in 47 games with the Canucks. The 1990-91 season was the best of his NHL career, playing in 36 games, scoring 11 goals and 18 points. The five games Mazur played with the Canucks in 1992-93 would be the final NHL games of his career.

From 1993-95 he played with his hometown Hamilton Canucks, recording 95 points in 78 games during the 1993-94 season. Mazur bounced around the minors in the mid-1990s, with stops in Portland, Rochester and Tallahassee before heading to Italy and Germany for a few seasons. He returned to North America in 1997-98 with the PeeDee Pride of the ECHL, then played two seasons with Alexandria in the WCHL, scoring at over a point-per-game pace. Mazur’s final pro season came in the United Hockey League, retiring after the 2000-01 season.

In 4 NHL seasons Mazur played in 47 games, scoring 11 goals and 18 points. He currently works as a physical education teacher in Maine.

Card 379 - Andrew Cassels

A centre, Cassels was drafted 17th overall by Montreal in 1987. Following the draft he racked up 285 points in two seasons with Ottawa in OHL, leading the OHL in regular season and playoff scoring in 1988 while winning most outstanding player and most sportsmanlike.

Cassels turned pro in 1989-90, appearing in six NHL games (scoring two goals) while playing primarily in the AHL. He made the Habs full-time in 1990-91, playing in 54 games scoring six goals and 25 points. Prior to the start of the 1991-92 Cassels was traded to division rival Hartford for a second round draft pick. He emerged offensively with Hartford, scoring a career-high 85 points in his second season with the Whalers before settling in as a consistent second line scorer, putting up 58 or more points in three straight seasons. An assistant captain from 1993 to 1997, Cassels was traded with JS Giguere to Calgary for Gary Roberts and Trevor Kidd the summer before Whalers moved to Carolina to become the Hurricanes.

Cassels had two relatively down seasons with the Flames, recording seasons of 44 and 37 points before signing with Vancouver as a free agent for the 1999-2000 season. In his first season as a Canuck he scored 17 goals and 62 points before putting up two seasons of 50+ points, including 50 points in 53 games in 2001-02. In 2002-03 Cassels signed with Columbus, finishing second in team scoring with 68 points that season. After a second season with the Blue Jackets, he played one final season with Washington in 2005-06 before retiring.

In 16 NHL seasons Cassels played in 1015 games, scoring 204 goals and 732 points. In retirement he coached youth hockey in Ohio, and in 2011-12 was an assistant with Cincinnati in the ECHL. His son Cole was drafted by the Canucks in 2013.

YouTube clip: just over a year apart, Cassels scored two goals as a result of redirections off his face.

Card 380 - Brian Noonan

A right winger, Noonan was drafted 179th overall by Chicago in 1983 straight out of high school hockey in Massachusetts. He went on to play one season in the WHL in 1984-85 before turning pro, playing in the IHL and AHL for two seasons, winning the Ken McKenzie Trophy in 1986. Noonan made his NHL debut in the 1987-88 season, playing in 77 games, scoring 10 goals and 30 points.

After a full NHL season in 1987-88, from 1988-89 to 1990-91 Noonan played in only 60 games with the Blackhawks, spending the rest of his time with Indianapolis in the IHL, scoring 91 points in 59 games during the 1990-91 season. A two-time post-season all-star in the IHL, he returned to the NHL in 1991-92, scoring a career-high 19 goals in the regular season. His resurgence continued in the playoffs by scoring 15 points in 18 games, as the Hawks would lose in the Finals to Pittsburgh.

During the 1993-94 season Noonan was traded with Stephane Matteau to the New York Rangers for two prospects, one of whom was future star Tony Amonte. Noonan scored a career-high 41 points between the two teams, and won his first Stanley Cup that spring, scoring 11 points in 22 playoff games. After one more season on Broadway, Noonan signed with St. Louis as a free agent, returning to the Rangers after a season and a bit via a trade for Sergio Momesso. Noonan’s second stop with the Rangers would last 44 games before a March 1997 trade to Vancouver in a four player deal.

In 1997-98 with the Canucks Noonan played all 82 games, scoring 25 points. He signed with Phoenix the following season, playing in seven games with the Coyotes, spending most of the season with his former IHL club Indianapolis. He had two final seasons with Chicago in the IHL, winning the Calder Cup in 2000, before retiring at the end of the 2000-01 season.

In 12 NHL seasons, Noonan played in 629 games, scoring 116 goals and 275 points. Not known for his scoring prowess, Noonan recorded five career hat tricks, including three in the 1991-92 season. This included a four-goal effort against Detroit in December, where he scored all of the Hawks goals’ in a 6-4 loss. In retirement Noonan has coached high school hockey in Illinois.

YouTube clip: scoring against St. Louis during a game on Boxing Day in December 1987. Also enjoy the sound of the old goal horn at the Chicago Stadium.

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