top of page
  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Players you didn't know were in the 1996 World Cup

The successor to Alan Eagleson's Canada Cup tournaments, the 1996 World Cup signaled a massive shift in international hockey. The United States stunned Canada to win a best-of-three finals, and Russia played its first best-on-best tournament since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

As with any international tournament, there is always fan discussion regarding rosters, particularly who made the roster and who did not. In honour of that discussion, below are my curated choices of one seemingly random player from each country's roster (minus Germany):

  • Canada - Lyle Odelein (featured in the post below). A defensive specialist and fighter, he appeared in two games. Teammates included Scott Stevens, Paul Coffey and Rob Blake.

  • Russia - Sergei Berezin. The only non-NHLer on Russia's roster, he scored 49 goals in the German league in 1995-96. He made his NHL debut after the tournament with Toronto.

  • Slovakia - Ivan Droppa. A career minor leaguer who played 19 NHL games with the Blackhawks. His final NHL season was 1995-96, followed by a decade playing in Europe.

  • Sweden - Patrik Juhlin. Played 56 games with the Flyers in the two seasons prior to the World Cup. Spent 1995-96 in the minors and returned to Europe the following year.

  • United States - Shawn Chambers. A solid NHLer like Lyle Odelein, but not a Hall of Famer like many of his American teammates. Perhaps best remembered for his infamous 1 overall rating in the NHLPA93 video game.

  • Finland - Janne Laukkanen. A depth defenceman with Ottawa, he played for three other franchises in his NHL career. His career high for points in a season is 21.

  • Czech Republic - Stanislav Neckar. Another Senators depth defenceman, Neckar had just finished his sophomore season in Ottawa. Went on to play another eight seasons in the NHL following the World Cup.

478 - Shawn Cronin

A defenceman, Cronin played four seasons with the University of Illinois-Chicago, signing as a free agent with Hartford after his senior year in 1986. His first pro season was split between Salt Lake City and Binghamton in the AHL, followed by two seasons with Baltimore in the AHL as part of the Washington Capitals organization. During the 1988-89 season he scored 12 points and recorded 267 penalty minutes with the Skipjacks, while also making his NHL debut with the Capitals.

In June 1989 Cronin signed with Philadelphia, and a month later was traded to Winnipeg. The 1989-90 season was his first full NHL campaign, playing in 61 games, recording four assists and 243 penalty minutes in 61 games. In his next three seasons with the Jets Cronin set career-highs in points (6) in 1990-91 and penalty minutes (271) in 1991-92.

Summer of 1992 saw Cronin traded to Quebec for Dan Lambert, and then quickly grabbed by the Flyers in the waiver draft. In the 1992-93 season Cronin scored two of his three career goals with the Flyers, in only 35 games no less. After one season in Philly he was traded to San Jose, recording four assists and 137 penalty minutes over two seasons. Cronin concluded his pro career playing parts of two seasons with Fort Wayne in the IHL.

In seven NHL seasons, Cronin played in 292 games, scoring three goals and 21 points while recording 877 penalty minutes.

YouTube clip: fighting the Grim Reaper, Stu Grimson, during a December 1991 game. This was one of Cronin's 78 career fights, a ratio of one fight every 3.75 games!

479 - Mark Hunter

The youngest of the three Hunter brothers (Dave and Dale), Mark was drafted seventh overall in 1981 by Montreal. He jumped immediately to the NHL, scoring 18 goals and 29 points in his rookie season, also recording 143 penalty minutes. Hunter saw his playing time reduced over the next two seasons, playing in 53 games, scoring 26 points.

In the summer of 1985 he was traded to St. Louis, the only player in a trade that saw nine draft picks involved. In his first season with the Blues Hunter scored a career high 44 goals and 74 points, played in the all-star game and earned all-star team votes. During the playoffs that season he scored seven goals and 14 points in 19 games as the Blues lost in seven games to Calgary in the Campbell Conference Finals.

Hunter eclipsed the 30 goal mark the next two seasons, but was still traded at the start of the 1988-89 season to Calgary as part of the Doug Gilmour trade. No longer required to be a scorer on a high-powered Flames team, Hunter still managed 22 goals while also recording a career-high 194 penalty minutes. Additionally, he recorded four points in 10 playoff games as the Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989.

Hunter played 67 games with the Flames over the next two seasons, before a trade to Hartford for Carey Wilson during the 1990-91 season. His final two seasons were split between Hartford and Washington, retiring after the 1992-93 season.

Over 12 NHL seasons, Hunter played in 628 games, scoring 213 goals and 384 points while recording 1426 penalty minutes. In retirement he jumped into coaching, first with Sarnia in the OHL from 1994-2000, save one year as head coach with St. John’s in the AHL in 1996-97. In 2000 Mark and his brothers bought the London OHL franchise, and he became the vice-president of hockey operations and general manager. In 2014-15 he took on the role of director of player personnel with the Toronto Maple Leafs, adding the title of assistant general manager for 2016-17 season. Mark still retains a major front office role with the London Knights to this day.

YouTube clip: fighting Dave Manson after Hunter runs over Wayne Van Dorp with questionable elbow, at least by today’s standards.

480 - Dave Tippett

A left winger, Tippett played two seasons with North Dakota, joining the Canadian National team in 1983-84 and captaining Canada at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. Following the Olympics he signed with Hartford, making his NHL debut during the 1983-84 season, playing in 17 games, scoring six points.

Over the next five seasons Tippett played in 80 games each season, scoring 30 or more points in all but one season. He recorded a career-high 17 goals and 41 points in 1988-89, while earning Selke Trophy votes in four of the five seasons, and serving as assistant captain with the Whalers.

In September 1990 Tippett was traded to Washington for a draft pick. He played in 91 games with Capitals over two seasons, scoring eight goals and 27 points. He left the team in 1992 to represent Canada at the Olympics, winning a silver medal in Albertville. Tippett’s final two NHL seasons were split between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, capped with one season in the IHL with Houston.

In 11 NHL seasons, Tippett played in 721 games, scoring 93 goals and 262 points. After one season of playing in Houston, he took on the role of assistant coach, getting promoted to head coach midway through the season. Tippett joined the NHL coaching ranks in 1999-2000, becoming an assistant coach with Los Angeles. In 2002 he became head coach in Dallas and from 2009-2017 was head coach in Phoenix. Tippett briefly left coaching to be an advisor with Seattle, but returned to coach Edmonton from 2019 to 2022. He currently works as a consultant for Seattle.

YouTube clip: post-game comments regarding officiating/diving after Game 3 of Western Conference Finals in 2012. Tippett’s Coyotes were swept by Los Angeles as the Kings were on their way to their first Cup victory in franchise history.

481 - Rob DiMaio

A right winger, DiMaio was drafted 118th overall by the New York Islanders in 1987. Following the draft he played his fourth and final season in the WHL with Medicine Hat, scoring 90 points in 54 games. A Tigers legend, DiMaio won back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1987 and 1988, winning tournament MVP in 1988.

His first three pro seasons saw DiMaio bounce between the NHL and AHL, playing in 24 games with the Isles, scoring two goals, one coming in the one playoff game he played in 1990. In 1991-92 he appeared in 50 games, scoring five goals and seven points in his true rookie season. 1993 saw DiMaio claimed in the expansion draft by Tampa Bay, playing 93 games with Lightning (scoring 39 points) before a March 1994 trade to Philadelphia for Jim Cummins and a draft pick.

After parts of three seasons with the Flyers he was claimed by San Jose in the September 1996 waiver draft, then was traded immediately to Boston. In his first seasons as a Bruin DiMaio set career-highs in goals (13) and points (28). His production remained steady the next two seasons, which included a trade to the New York Rangers in March 2000 for Mike Knuble. DiMaio played 12 games for the Rangers before a summer 2000 trade to Carolina.

During the 2000-01 season DiMaio played in 74 games for the Canes, scoring six goals and 24 points. In July 2001 he signed with Dallas, where he played the next three seasons. The 2004-05 lockout saw DiMaio spend time in Switzerland and Italy, winning a league title in Italy. He returned to the NHL in 2005-06, signing with Tampa Bay, playing 61 games, scoring 17 points in his final NHL campaign.

In 17 NHL seasons, DiMaio played in 894 games, scoring 106 goals and 277 points. In 2007 he became a pro scout with Dallas, working in scouting with St. Louis and Anaheim afterwards. In 2015-16 he became director of player personnel with the Ducks, moving up to the role of assistant general manager/general manager with San Diego in the AHL.

YouTube clip: knocking down Jim Cummins, a man he was traded for in March 1994, during a November 2003 game between the Stars and Avs.

482 - Lyle Odelein

A defenceman, Odelein was drafted 141st overall by Montreal in 1986. He played two additional seasons with Moose Jaw in the WHL following the draft, turning pro in 1988-89. The following season he scored 31 points and recorded 265 penalty minutes with Sherbrooke in the AHL, appearing in his first eight NHL games as well.

Odelein became a regular with the Habs in 1990-91, and over the next four seasons would record 200+ penalty minutes each season. In addition to pugilism, Odelein was a defensive stalwart, recording a +35 rating in 1992-93 (fifth in the league). He also played in 20 playoff games that post-season, scoring six points as the Habs won their 23rd Stanley Cup. The following season Odelein set career-highs in offensive numbers with 11 goals and 40 points, including a hat trick during a March 1994 game against St. Louis.

In Summer 1996 he was traded to New Jersey for Stephane Richer. In parts of four seasons with the Devils Odelein scored 20+ points twice and recorded over 100 penalty minutes each season. In March 2000 he was traded to Phoenix for Deron Quint, playing in 16 regular season and five playoff games before he was claimed by Columbus in the 2000 expansion draft. Odelein was named the first captain in Blue Jackets history and played a season and a half with the franchise before a trade in March 2002 to Chicago for Jaroslav Spacek.

Odelein played 77 games with the Hawks before a trade to Dallas in 2001-02. He played only three games with the Stars before, playing his final two NHL seasons with Florida and Pittsburgh.

In 16 NHL seasons, Odelein played in 1056 games, scoring 50 goals and 252 points. He recorded 2316 penalty minutes in his career (30th all-time), and recorded 11 straight seasons with 100+ penalty minutes (1990 to 2001). His career plus/minus rating was sullied by his time with Columbus, where he recorded a -44 rating, lowering his career ratio to +29. Odelein was also a surprise addition to Canada’s 1996 World Cup team, playing two games for the silver medal winning squad.

In retirement has undergone some serious medical issues, resulting in heart valve, kidney and liver transplant in 2018. Read the harrowing tale of his surgery that took over 24 hours to complete.

YouTube clip: fighting John Kordic during an early 1991 season game between the Habs and Nords.

483 - Joe Reekie

A defenceman, Reekie was drafted 124th overall by Hartford in 1983. After playing two years in the OHL, Reekie re-entered the draft in 1985 and was selected 119th overall by Buffalo after scoring 82 points in 65 games for Cornwall.

Following the draft Reekie turned pro, scoring 28 points and recording 178 penalty minutes with Rochester of the AHL while also appearing in three games for Buffalo. From 1986 to 1989 he played in 101 games with Sabres, scoring 18 points. In the 1989 off-season he was traded to Islanders for a draft pick. This trade kick-started Reekie’s NHL career, as he set career-highs in points (19 in 1990-91) and goals (4 in 1991-92). Following his third season on Long Island, Reekie was selected by Tampa Bay in the 1992 expansion draft.

He played parts of two seasons with the Lightning, setting a career-high in penalty minutes with 156 during their premier season. Late in the 1993-94 season he was traded to Washington for two draft picks. Reekie spent nine seasons with the Capitals as a stay-at-home defenceman, never scoring more than 11 points in a season and not scoring a single goal over two straight seasons, 132 total games. Reekie did score a goal (along with two assists) in the 1998 playoffs as the Capitals made the Stanley Cup Finals, falling to Detroit in four games.

In January 2002 Reekie was traded to Chicago for a draft pick, playing his final 18 NHL games with the Blackhawks before retiring at the end of the season. In 17 NHL seasons Reekie played in 902 games, scoring 25 goals and 164 points while recording 1326 penalty minutes. He was a plus player in all but three of his NHL seasons, with a cumulative +150 rating. In retirement he worked as a hockey analyst with NBC Sports in Washington.

YouTube clip: scoring his first goal with the Washington Capitals in a February 1995 game versus the New York Rangers.

5 views0 comments


bottom of page