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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Nicknames and the cruel world of goaltending

Two things struck me during while writing this post. First, NHL players really don't put effort into nicknames like the use to do. Learning that Dale Hawerchuk earned his nickname of 'Ducky' from a teammate in junior based on the way he skated really shows that nicknames these days don't even try. Players just take a teammate's name and 'e' or 'i' to the end of - my guess is that Hawerchuk would be nicknamed 'Chucky' or 'Hawsie' today. *end old man rant*

Second, goaltending is a cruel world, exemplified by two tenders featured this week. Tim Cheveldae went from career best seasons and Vezina/Hart Trophy votes to a timeshare goalie and eventually a minor leaguer in a span of about 4 seasons. Ditto for Rick Wamsley who was a solid tender with the Habs in the early 1980s, was traded to St. Louis and became a timeshare goalie and then a career backup (at least he won a Cup). The late1990s and 2000s would see the ironman goalie come about, eliminating the need for having two solid netminders on your team. In 1995-96 Grant Fuhr set the record for most games played by a goalie in a single season, playing in 79 games of an 82 game schedule. Not surprisingly, Marty Brodeur owns four of the top seven seasons in terms of games played. With timeshare and goal splits seem to be coming back in a big way this season, there seems to be hope for today's Cheveldaes and Wamsleys of the goaltending world.

Card 125 - Mike Craig

The right winger was drafted 28th overall by Minnesota in the 1989 draft, having won the Memorial Cup with the Oshawa Generals earlier that spring. Craig would make his pro debut with the North Stars in the 1990-91 season, appearing in 39 regular season games and ten playoff games as Minnesota made the Stanley Cup finals that year, losing to Pittsburgh.

In the North Stars’ final year in Minnesota, Craig would record a career-high 15 goals and 38 points. He would play one season in Dallas after the franchise relocated, and then sign as a free agent with Toronto. He would play three seasons with the Leafs, scoring 20 points per season.

Craig would play in the IHL for the 1997-98 season and the sign with San Jose for 1998-99, playing three games for the Sharks. He would leave the Sharks for a season, signing with Colorado, and then return to the Sharks for 2001-02, playing his final two NHL games.

Craig’s NHL totals would read 9 seasons and 423 games, scoring 71 goals and 168 points. After the NHL he would play for 11 seasons in Europe, primarily in Austria. He would win a Spengler Cup in 2004, and lead the Austrian league in scoring twice.

Upon retiring from pro hockey, Craig would be an assistant coach with Lethbridge in WHL from 2013-2017 and then scout for the Calgary Flames from 2017-2019.

YouTube clip: delivering a two-handed slash to Jason Arnott and then getting pummeled by Shayne Corson

Card 126 - Dale Hawerchuk “Ducky”

Hawerchuk was drafted 1st overall by Winnipeg in 1981 after scoring 81 goals and 183 points with Cornwall, winning back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1980 and 1981. He would have no problem transitioning to the NHL, scoring 45 goals and 103 points as an 18-year-old (the most every for an 18 year-old), winning the Calder Trophy.

In nine seasons with the Jets, Hawerchuk would score 40+ goals and 100+ points six times. In 1984-85 he was named team captain, scoring a career 55 goals and 130 points, good for third in the league. He would also be named to the second all-star team and finished second in Hart Trophy voting behind Wayne Gretzky that season. Hawerchuk would be traded to Buffalo prior to the start of the 1990-91 season for Phil Housley, Scott Arniel and Jeff Parker. The trade also involved a swap of first round picks, with the Jets selecting Keith Tkachuk. With Buffalo he would continue to produce, recording four straight seasons with 86 points or more.

After the lockout shortened 1994-95 season, Hawerchuk would sign with St. Louis, playing 66 games with the Blues before a deadline trade to Philadelphia for Craig MacTavish. Prior to his time with the Flyers, Hawerchuk had never advanced beyond the division finals in the playoffs. In 1995-96 the Flyers would finish first in the Eastern Conference but be upset in the conference semi-finals by Florida. The following season Hawerchuk would score 34 points in 51 games and the Flyers would lose in the conference finals to New Jersey, in what would be his final NHL season.

During his 16-year NHL career Hawerchuk would play in 1188 games, scoring 518 goals, 1409 assists (21st all-time) and 1409 points (20th all-time). He would also play in 5 all-star games and be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

From 2007-2010 he coached Orangeville in the OJHL before becoming head coach of the Barrie Colts in the OHL. He coached the Colts until 2019 when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer; sadly he would pass away in August 2020.

YouTube clip: a biographical video from August 2020, shortly after his death

Card 127 - Dean Evason

Evason was drafted 89th overall by Washington in the 1982 entry draft. The centre would play 17 games with the Caps from 1983-1985 before he was traded to Hartford alongside goalie Peter Sidorkiewicz for David Jensen.

Evason would make the NHL full-time in the 1986-87 season, scoring what would be a career-high 22 goals and 59 points. Overall his next four seasons with the Whalers, Evason would hover around 30 points per season, recording a career-high 170 penalty minutes in 1990-91.

At the start of the 1991-92 season he would be traded to the expansion San Jose Sharks for Dan Keczmer. He would last two seasons in San Jose before being traded to Dallas during the 1993 off-season. Evason would revitalize his career with the Stars, scoring 11 goals and 44 points. In 1995-96 he would sign with Calgary, playing the final year of his NHL career as a Flame. He would play two additional seasons in Germany before retiring at the end of the 1998-99 season.

In 13 NHL seasons he would play 803 games, scoring 139 goals and 372 points. Immediately after retiring Evason jumped into coaching in the WHL with Kamloops, Vancouver and Calgary. He would become an assistant coach with the team that drafted him, Washington, from 2005-2012, and then the head coach of AHL Milwaukee from 2012-18. Evason has been with the Minnesota Wild since 2018, and was promoted to head coach partway through the 2019-2020 season, the position he currently holds.

On his card you need to appreciate two pieces of equipment. First, the extra long visor, a la Ray Ferraro. And second, the tape job on his stick. The entire blade is covered from heel to toe, and the toe appears to have been shaped to a completely flat end.

Card 128 - Craig Janney

A centre, Janney was drafted 13th overall by Boston in 1986. From nearby Hartford, he played college hockey in Boston, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 1986.

As a 20-year-old, Janney scored 16 points in 15 regular season games and appeared in 23 playoff games as the Bruins would make the 1988 Cup Finals, getting swept by Edmonton. In his first full season in the NHL, Janney would score 16 goals and 62 points, finishing fifth in Calder Trophy voting.

In three-and-a-half seasons with the Bruins, Janney would average a point-per-game. Part way through the 1991-92 season he would be traded to St. Louis for fellow playmaker Adam Oates. Janney would peak with the Blues, scoring a career-high 24 goals and 106 points in 1992-93 and finish fifth in Byng Trophy voting.

In March 1994 Janney would be awarded to Vancouver as compensation for the Blues' signing of Petr Nedved. Neither team was happy with the compensation, so a week later Janney was traded back to St. Louis for Jeff Brown, Bret Hedican and Nathan Lafayette. In March 1995 he would be traded away from the Blues for good, this time to San Jose for Jeff Norton.

March 1996 would make it three straight Marchs that Janney was traded, this time to Winnipeg for Darren Turcotte. With Winnipeg and later Phoenix, Janney’s numbers would begin to drop and before the 1998-99 season he would be traded to Tampa Bay for Louie DeBrusk. He would play 38 games for the Lightning before a trade to the New York Islanders, his final NHL stop.

In total Janney played 12 seasons, appearing in 760 games, scoring 188 goals and 751 points while recording only 120 penalty minutes. He finished top 10 in the NHL in assists each season from 1990-91 to 1993-94 and is a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

YouTube clip: as a member of the San Jose Sharks scoring a pair of goals during Game 6 of 1995 Western Conference Quarter-finals against Calgary

Card 129 - Tim Cheveldae

Goalie Cheveldae was drafted 64th overall by Detroit in 1986. He would play three seasons in the WHL with Saskatoon, and spend his first two pro seasons mostly in the minors, appearing in 30 games with the Red Wings between 1988-90 (he did win a Calder Cup with Adirondack in 1989).

Cheveldae became the Wings starting goalie in 1990-91, posting a 30-26-5 record while allowing the most goals in the NHL that season (214). 1991-92 would be a career season, leading the NHL in games played (72), wins (38), shots against (1978) and minutes played (4236). He would finish fourth in Vezina Trophy voting, earning Hart Trophy and all-star team votes as well, and playing in the mid-season all-star game.

1992-93 would be his final full season with Detroit, winning 34 games as the team finished second in the Norris Division but lost to Toronto in the division semi-finals. The following season Chris Osgood would emerge as the starting goalie for Detroit and Cheveldae would be traded to Winnipeg for fellow tender Bob Essensa. He would split time with Nikolai Khabibulin during the 1994-95 lockout season, falling to backup duties in 1995-96, winning eight games each season.

In February 1996 Cheveldae would be traded to Philadelphia for Dominic Roussel, but spent the entirety of that season in the AHL. For 1996-97 he would sign with Boston, playing two games for the Bruins; 1997-98 would be his final season in pro hockey, spent in the IHL.

In nine seasons Cheveldae would post a 149-136-37 record, .883 save percentage and 3.49 goals against average. From 2013-2019 he was the goaltending coach with his former WHL team, Saskatoon.

YouTube clip: career highlights

Card 130 - Rick Wamsley

Goaltender Wamsley was drafted 58th overall by Montreal in 1979. He would play two seasons in the AHL with Nova Scotia before becoming a regular with the Habs in 1981-82; that season he would lead the team in starts, finishing with 23-7-7 record and sharing the first ever Jennings Trophy with teammate Denis Herron. The following season he would win a career high 27 games.

Wamsley would play four seasons in Montreal before he was traded to St. Louis along with three draft picks in exchange for two draft picks that the Habs used to select Stephane Richer and Shayne Corson. Wamsley was likely forced out by a crowded crease in Montreal, stocked with young tenders like Richard Sevigny, Steve Penney and Patrick Roy.

In his time with the Blues, Wamsley would share the crease first with Mike Liut and then Greg Millen, playing roughly 40 games a year and seeing his wins total decline from 23 to 13. In March 1988 he would be traded to Calgary as part of the Brett Hull trade. With the Flames he would serve as Mike Vernon’s backup, winning the Cup in 1989 against his former team, Montreal.

In January 1992 Wamsley would be involved in the famous ten-player swap between Calgary and Toronto, going with Doug Gilmour to the Leafs. Over two seasons he would play 11 games for Toronto, retiring at the end of the 1992-93 season.

In a 13-year career Wamsley would record a 204-131-46 record, .881 save percentage and 3.34 goals against average. After retirement he would continue to work for the Leafs in a variety of roles until 1999. Wamsley would move onto be a goalie coach for Columbus and St. Louis from 1999-2010, including a brief stint as an interim head coach with Peoria of the AHL. His most recent NHL job was as goalie coach with Ottawa from 2010-2016.

I love this card because both of the pictures are fantastic. The front picture is an action shot, highlights the great all-red Flames jerseys of the 90s, and has the plain white pads and helmet which you don't see these days. The back picture appears to be a sneak attack by the photographer, with Wamsley sporting a look of shock on his face.

YouTube clip: 2.5 minutes of highlights from his time with the Habs

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