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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

The All Z team

In honour of one of this week's featured players, Rick Zombo, I wanted to see the best starting lineup I could create solely from players' who last name starts with the letter Z. Below are the results:

Starting centre: Alex Zhamnov

Runners up: Mika Zibanejad, Trevor Zegras

Zhamnov earns the starting centre role based on longevity of career to this point, scoring 719 points in 807 games. He was also a second-team all-star and Byng Trophy finalist in 1994-95, a season that saw him finish third in the NHL with 30 goals. Zibanejad and Zegras are rising stars who could surpass Zhamnov in the next few years.

Starting left winger: Henrik Zetterberg

Runners up: Mats Zuccarello, Rob Zamuner

Zetterberg’s career accolades include a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe and second-team all-star (all in 2008), all-rookie team (2003), King Clancy (2015) and 960 points in 1082 career games, all with Detroit. Zuccarello is the all-time leader in the major stats categories for Norwegian born-NHLers and Zamuner was a solid defensive forward best remembered for his controversial inclusion on the 1998 Canadian Olympic hockey team.

Starting right winger: Dainius Zubrus

Runner up: Richard Zednik

Zubrus is the only Lithuanian born NHLer of major consequence, having scored 591 points in 1293 career games (70th all-time). He came out of nowhere to be drafted 15th overall by Philadelphia in 1996 (Pembroke, Ontario and the Lumber Kings to be precise). Zednik was a 10th round selection that went on to play 745 NHL games, scoring 31 goals with Montreal in 2002-03. He suffered a scary but apparently not life-threatening injury in February 2008 game when his throat was cut by a teammate’s skate.

Starting defencemen: Sergei Zubov, Alexei Zhitnik

Runners up: Marek Zidlicky, Zarley Zalapski

Zubov is the only player with a surname starting with Z in the Hockey Hall of Fame (2019). He won two Stanley Cups (1994, 1999), led the New York Rangers in scoring in 1993-94 (89 points) and was a second-team all-star and Norris Trophy finalist in 2006. Alexei Zhitnik played 1085 games, scoring 471 points, played in two-all star games (1999, 2002) and two Stanley Cup Finals (1993 and 1999). Marek Zidlicky played the first half of his career with expansion teams in Nashville and Minnesota, making his first and only Cup Finals appearance in 2012 with New Jersey. Zalapski was the fourth overall pick in 1986, made the all-rookie team in 1989, and played in the 1993 all-star game while playing in 637 career games.

Starting goalie: Jeff Zatkoff

Runner up: Rob Zepp

The only two goalies to ever play in the NHL with a surname starting with Z, Zatkoff was drafted in 2006 but did not make his NHL debut until 2013-14, playing in 20 games with the Penguins, winning 12. He would win a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2016, playing in two playoff games, recording one win. Zepp was drafted twice (Atlanta in 1999, Carolina in 2001), and waited even longer than Zatkoff to make his NHL debut, playing in 10 games for Philadelphia in 2014-15, winning 5.

Card 393 - John Chabot

A centre, Chabot was selected 40th overall by Montreal in 1980 out of Hull in the QMJHL. He played two more seasons of junior, scoring 143 points in 1981-82 with Sherbrooke and winning league MVP.

Chabot turned pro in 1982-83 with Nova Scotia in the AHL, making the Habs roster the following season, scoring 18 goals and 43 points behind a ridiculous 26.1% shooting percentage. In spite of a relatively successful rookie season, Chabot was traded to Pittsburgh early in the 1984-85 season for Ron Flockhart.

In his first season as Penguin, Chabot scored nine goals and a career-high 60 points. He followed that with two seasons of14 goals per season before signing with Detroit as a free agent for the 1987-88 season. In his first season with the Red Wings, Chabot scored 57 points, earning Selke and Byng Trophy votes as well. During the 1988 playoffs he scored 19 points in 16 games, good for third on the team in playoff scoring.

Chabot’s production dipped following his breakout playoff performance, scoring only 12 points in 52 games. After two more mildly-productive seasons, he left the NHL for the 1991-92 season to play in Europe. Chabot played two seasons in Italy, then found a home in Germany, where he played eight seasons. During this time he led the German league in assists four times and points once, while captaining Frankfurt for three seasons.

In eight NHL seasons, Chabot played in 508 games, scoring 84 goals and 312 points. From 2001-07 to he coached in the QMJHL with Hull/Gatineau and Acadie-Bathurst, then graduated to the NHL as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders from 2007-2009. Most recently he was an interim head coach with Gatineau during the 2009-10 season. Chabot currently owns a consulting firm, Anishinabeg Communications.

YouTube clip: an interview from the Windsor CBC affiliate in 1988 shortly after signing as a free agent with the Red Wings.

Card 394 - Jeff Beukeboom

A defenceman, Beukeboom was drafted 19th overall by Edmonton in 1983. He played two additional seasons with Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL before making his pro debut in 1985-86 with the Nova Scotia Oilers. Beukeboom made his NHL debut the following season and in his sophomore year scored a career-high 25 points while winning his first Stanley Cup in 1988 with the Oilers.

Following the Cup victory he bounced in and out of the Oilers line up for the next two seasons, playing 82 games total while winning a second Cup in 1990. November 1991 saw him traded to the New York Rangers to complete an earlier trade between the two teams that sent Mark Messier to Broadway for a package of players. Beukeboom became a mainstay on the Blueshirts’ blueline, recording a career-high eight goals during the 1993-94 season. He also won a third Stanley Cup during the 1994 playoffs, contributing six assists and recording a +17 rating.

Beukeboom played an additional five seasons with the Rangers, recording a career-high 220 penalty minutes in 1995-96. His career ended in July 1999 due to multiple concussions he suffered throughout his playing days, punctuated by a vicious sucker-punch from Los Angeles’ Matt Johnson in November 1998 game.

In 13 NHL seasons, Beukeboom played in 804 games, scoring 30 goals and 159 points while recording 1890 penalty minutes. In retirement he has gotten involved in coaching, first for a season with Toronto in the AHL in 2003-04, then in the OHL from 2008 to 2012 with Barrie and Sudbury. From 2012 to 2016 he coached Connecticut/Hartford in the AHL, then spent a season as an assistant with the Rangers in 2016-17 before moving into amateur scouting until 2022..

YouTube clip: fighting Bob Probert in January 1991. The start of the video features a cameo from our next player, Rick Zombo.

Card 395 - Rick Zombo

A defenceman, Zombo was selected 149th overall by Detroit in 1981 while playing for the Austin Mavericks in the USHL. Following the draft he played three seasons of college hockey at North Dakota, where he was captain in his final season.

Zombo turned pro in 1984-85, playing his first two seasons primarily in the AHL, winning a Calder Cup with Adirondack in 1986. The following season he played in 44 NHL games with Detroit, making the team full-time in 1987-88, scoring three goals and 17 points in 62 games. During the 1988 playoffs he recorded six assists and +14 rating, second on the team to John Chabot.

The stretch of 1988-89 to 1990-91 was the best in Zombo’s career, playing 75 or more games each season while scoring 20+ points per season, including career-highs in goals (5) and points (25) in 1989-90. Early in the 1991-92 season he was traded to St. Louis for goalie Vincent Riendeau. Zombo played three seasons with the Blues before a trade to Boston in October 1995 for a prospect. His one season in Boston was the final one of his NHL career, recording 14 points in 67 games. Zombo signed with Los Angeles for the 1996-97 season, but played in only 23 games for Phoenix in the IHL before retiring.

In 12 NHL seasons, Zombo played in 652 games, scoring 24 goals and 154 points. He transitioned to coaching in retirement, first with St. Louis in the NAHL and then two seasons of high school hockey in St. Louis. In 2003-04 he was head coach and general manager of the St. Louis Eagles in the USHL, but the team folded after one season. In 2008 Zombo returned to coaching as an assistant with Lindenwood University, taking over as head coach in 2010, a position he holds to this day.

YouTube clip: throwing hands with Jocelyn Lemieux from Norris Division rival Chicago in a March 1990 game, one of 16 career NHL fights.

Card 396 - Kjell Samuelsson

A defenceman, Samuelsson was drafted 119th overall by the New York Rangers in 1984 at the age of 26, having played pro hockey in his native Sweden since he was 18. Samuelsson came to North America for the 1985-86 season, playing primarily with New Haven in the AHL while appearing in nine games with the Rangers.

During his true rookie season Samuelsson was traded to Philadelphia for goalie Bob Froese. Split between the two teams he scored three goals and 15 points, making the Cup Finals with the Flyers. In his first full season as a Flyer he scored a career-high 30 points, and recorded 184 penalty minutes and +28 rating while playing in that season's all-star game. Samuelsson played another three and a half seasons in Philadelphia, recording a career-high nine goals in 1990-91. In February 1992 he was traded to inter-state rival Pittsburgh with Rick Tocchet and Ken Wregget for Mark Recchi, Brian Benning and a first round pick.

Joining the defending Stanley Cup champs, Samuelsson playing in 15 playoff games, recording three assists and winning his first Cup in 1992. After three more seasons in Pittsburgh he went back to Philadelphia as a free agent for the 1995-96 season. His playing time decreased over the next two seasons, down to 34 and 49 games respectively before he left to start the 1998-99 season in Austria. Samuelsson returned to the NHL that season with Tampa Bay, playing 46 games before retiring at season’s end.

In 14 NHL seasons, Samuelsson played in 813 games, scoring 48 goals and 186 points. In retirement he has stayed in the Flyers’ organization, working from 2000 to 2013 as an assistant coach with the Flyers’ farm team in Philadelphia/Adirondack. In 2013 he was hired by the big club to be a development coach, a role he still has today. Surprisingly, Kjell is not in any way related to Ulf Samuelsson, but Kjell’s son Mattias plays for Buffalo, where he recently signed a seven-year, $30 million dollar contract.

YouTube clip: scoring during 1996 playoffs for Philadelphia versus Tampa Bay, one of his four career playoff goals.

Card 397 - Garth Butcher

A defenceman, Butcher was drafted 10th overall by Vancouver in 1981. In the 1981-82 season, he scored 92 points and recorded 318 penalty minutes with Regina in the WHL while also appearing in five games with the Canucks. The following season Butcher became a full-time pro, scoring 14 points in 55 games.

In four full seasons from 1986-87 to 1989-90, he played in 70+ games each season, recording 20+ points and 200+ penalty minutes each year. During the 1987-88 season Butcher scored a career-high six goals and 23 points. The long-time Canucks assistant captain was traded late in the 1990-91 season to St. Louis alongside Dan Quinn for four players and a draft pick. Between the Canucks and BLues that season Btucher equalled his career high in goals and set a new personal best for penalty minutes with 289, good for sixth in the league.

Butcher lasted parts of three seasons with the Blues, acting as captain during the 1991-92 season, and playing in his one and only all-star game in 1993. In January 1994 he was traded to Quebec in a five-player deal; he finished the season with the Nords, scoring 12 points in 34 games. That summer Butcher was traded to Toronto as part of the blockbuster deal that saw Mats Sundin go to Toronto for Leafs legend Wendel Clark, among others. The lockout shortened 1994-95 season was Butcher’s last in the NHL, contributing eight points and 59 penalty minutes for the Leafs.

In 14 NHL seasons, Butcher played in 897 games, scoring 48 goals and 206 points. He also recorded 2302 penalty minutes, 32nd all-time and 10th all-time amongst defencemen. In retirement he has operated several businesses, including restaurants and a sports complex. He has faced sexual assault charges, of which he was acquitted in 2004.

YouTube clip: Two of his four career fights versus Wendel Clark, which happened in the same game in February 1987.

Card 398 - Phil Bourque

An undrafted left winger who also played defence at points throughout his career, Bourque signed with Pittsburgh in 1982 after playing junior hockey in Kingston. He started his pro career with five seasons with the Baltimore Skipjacks in the AHL, squeezing in 31 games with the Penguins during that time, scoring six points.

1987-88 was Bourque’s breakout year with Muskegon in the IHL, averaging a point per game and being named best defenceman and a first-team all-star. He made the NHL full-time the following season, playing in 80 games, scoring 17 goals and a career-high 43 points. Back-to-back seasons of 22 and 20 goals followed, along with a Stanley Cup in 1991, with Bourque contributing six goals and 13 points in 24 playoff games. He also delivered a memorable quote about ‘partying all summer’ with the Cup during the victory celebration. During the Penguins’ second Cup victory, he added seven points in 21 playoff games.

In the summer of 1992 Bourque signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers, contributing 20 points in 55 games. Late in the 1993-94 season he was traded to Ottawa, where in 62 games over three seasons he would score seven goals and 13 points. Just prior to the start of the 1994-95 season Bourque suffered severe injuries from a fall off a cliff, including a broken skull and three broken vertebrae in his neck.

1995-96 was his final NHL season, split between Ottawa and the Detroit Vipers in the IHL. Bourque played one additional season in the IHL and three seasons in Germany before retiring after the 1999-2000 season. In 12 NHL seasons, he played in 477 games, scoring 88 goals and 199 points. He currently works as a radio analyst for the Penguins,

YouTube clip: scoring in Game 1 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals against the Blackhawks. The Pens were down 3-0 at the time, and the goal ultimately queued a 5-4 come back victory.

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