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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

The best goal celebrations

When it comes to goal celebrations in hockey, there are two schools of thought. There is the 'act like you've been there before' crowd, which typically skews older and more likely to support Don Cherry. Then there is the group that enjoys seeing players show off their personality and enjoyment of the game through celebrations, which typically skews to the newer and younger fans.

As far as I can tell, goal celebrations are not a new aspect to the game. One of the players featured this week, Mike Foligno, played primarily in the 1980s and was known for his trademark leap after scoring. In the same era you also get Dave 'Tiger' Williams riding his stick after scoring. This post also features Dale Hunter, infamous for his blind side hit on a celebrating Pierre Turgeon. I personally think celebrating after scoring is a positive thing for the game. I understand that many hockey players are understated, team guys, and that's fine - but let those who are comfortable celebrating enjoy it. Hockey is a game, after all! With that, let's look at some players and their trademark celebrations:

Dave 'Tiger' Williams: as mentioned above, the NHL's all-time record holder for penalty minutes was an entertainer through-and-through, including his stick riding.

Jaromir Jagr: an all-time great, Jagr was particularly found of the 'salute' celebration during his time in Pittsburgh.

Teemu Selanne: while a one-time celebration, its hard to forget Selanne's celebration upon setting the record for most goals scored in a season by a rookie. Throwing his glove in and the air shooting it down with his stick is a classic!

Carey Price & PK Subban: the triple-low five after a victory was popular with Habs fan, and even makes an appearance as an Easter egg in NHL 21.

Theo Fleury: a celebration that is only stopped by the boards after Fleury scored the winner in Game 6 of the 1991 Smythe Divison Semi-Finals.

Alex Ovechkin: Ovi's stick is too hot to handle after scoring his 50th goal of the season.

Card 207 - Gaetan Duchesne

Drafted 152nd overall by Washington in 1982, left winger Duchesne jumped straight to the NHL as a 19-year-old, playing in 74 games, scoring 9 goals and 23 points. Over the next five seasons he developed into a defensively-responsible forward, scoring 10+ goals and 35+ points each season, earning Selke Trophy votes each season as well. In 1986-87 he recorded a career-high 52 points.

In the 1987 off-season Duchesne was traded to Quebec along with Alan Haworth and a 1st round pick for Dale Hunter and Clint Malarchuk, Of significance, that first round pick would be used by the Nords to select Joe Sakic. In Duchesne’s first season in La Belle Province he would score a career-high 24 goals. After two seasons he would be traded to Minnesota for Kevin Kaminski.

With the North Stars Duchesne would be a veteran presence on the Cinderella 1991 Stanley Cup Finalist team, scoring five points in 25 playoff games. He would transfer with the team to Dallas, but never suited up for the Stars, being traded to San Jose in June 1993 for a draft pick. In his one full season with the Sharks he would score 16 goals, his largest goal output since 1987-88. During the lockout shortened 1994-95 season he would be traded to Florida, playing 13 games with the Panthers.

Duchesne was out of hockey for the 1995-96 season, but returned for two seasons following to play for Quebec in the IHL, retiring to become an assistant coach. He would also be an assistant coach with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL from 2000-02.

In 14 NHL seasons Duchesne played in 1028 games, scoring 179 goals and 433 points. He would earn Selke Trophy votes in 10 of those seasons. Tragically, Duchesne would die of heart failure in 2007. Beginning in 2008 his former team Washington honours his memory annually by awarding the Gaetan Duchesne Award to the best intra-squad team in training camp.

YouTube clip: a profile from his time in San Jose, noting his lengthy career as a bottom-six forward.

Card 208 - Cliff Ronning

A centre, Ronning was drafted 134th overall by St. Louis in 1984. The year following the draft he would score 89 goals and 197 points with New Westminster in the WHL. Ronning's diminutive size (5’8”) would hold him back from jumping straight to the NHL, and instead he would spend the 1985-86 season with the Canadian National Team. He would make his NHL debut in the 1986 playoffs, appearing in five games with the Blues.

Over the next two seasons he would appear in 42 and 26 NHL games respectively, with 1988-89 seeing Ronning play in 64 games, scoring 24 goals and 55 points. Perhaps tired of not being able to crack the Blues line up full-time, Ronning spent the 1989-90 season playing pro hockey in Italy. He would return to the Blues for the 1990-91 season, being traded in March 1991 to his hometown Vancouver Canucks as part of a six-player swap.

Over the next five seasons with Vancouver, Ronning would score 20+ goals four times, setting career-highs for goals (29) and points (85) in 1992-93. In July 1996 he signed with Phoenix, scoring 50+ points in his two full seasons in the desert.

October 1998 would see Ronning move to Nashville, where he would lead the team in scoring during all three of his seasons, including back-to-back 62 point season. He would also be an assistant captain during his time with the Predators. Late in the 2001-02 season Ronning would be sent to Los Angeles in exchange for Jere Kerelahti. He would play 14 games for the Kings before an off-season trade to Minnesota for a draft pick.

In 2002-03 Ronning would experience a brief renaissance on a young Wild team, scoring 17 goals and 48 points, good for second in team scoring. He would wrap up his pro career in 2003-04, appearing in 40 games with the New York Islanders.

Over a 17 season career Ronning played in 1137 games, scoring 306 goals and 869 points. In retirement he runs a hockey stick manufacturer called Base Hockey and provides individual skills coaching.

YouTube clip: for people of a certain age, you will remember the unbelievable speed associated with Ronning’s player in the NHL 1993 video game; in this video clip he reveals how that came to be. For a game related clip, here is Ronning scoring in Game 4 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, his goal set up by a fantastic Pavel Bure rush.

Card 209 - Dale Hunter

The middle brother of the three hockey-playing Hunters (and appropriately a centre), Dale was drafted 41st overall by Quebec in 1979. He would play one additional season in the OHL with Sudbury before turning pro in 1980-81. In his first season with the Nords, Hunter played in 80 games scoring 19 goals and 44 points.

Hunter developed a reputation for consistency during his first six seasons in Quebec, appearing in at least 77 games each season. He would score 20+ goals and 70+ points four times, while also recording over 200 penalty minutes each season.

The 1987 off-season would see Hunter sent to Washington in a four-player swap that saw the Caps move the first round pick Quebec would use to select future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic. Hunter would continue his consistent ways in Washington, scoring 20+ goals five times, including a career-high 28 in 1991-92. He would achieve a career-high 79 points the following season.

Hunter was known as a fierce competitor, but in the 1993 playoffs his reputation took a turn for the worse. Having scored seven goals in six games during the Patrick Division Semi-Finals versus the New York Islanders, Hunter blind-sided Isles centre Pierre Turgeon after his giveaway resulted in a Turgeon goal. Hunter would be suspended for 21 games and the Caps would lose the series in seven games.

Hunter would go on to play an additional five seasons in Washington (as team captain no less), scoring more than 40 points only once. He would make his one and only Cup Finals appearance in 1998, contributing four assists in 21 games.

At the trade deadline in 1999 Hunter would be traded to Colorado for draft picks. He would play in 12 regular and 19 playoff games with the Avs as they would lose the Western Conference Finals to eventual Cup champs Dallas.

In a 19 season NHL career, Hunter played in 1407 games, scoring 323 goals and 1020 points. His 3565 penalty minutes ranks second all-time, which is no surprise given he recorded more than 100 penalty minutes in every season of his career. Hunter also holds the records for most career penalty minutes in the NHL playoffs with 731. In addition to his aggressive temperament, Hunter also an efficient shooter, ranking fourth all-time in shooting percentage (25.5%)

Immediately after retiring he became the director of player development with Washington. That role would be short-lived, as in 2000 he purchased the OHL’s London Knights and became team president. Hunter has coached the team from 2001 to this very day, save one-year off in 2011-12 when he coached the Washington Capitals and alienated star Alex Ovechkin during his brief tenure. During his time as coach, London has won three OHL titles and two Memorial Cups. Hunter was also coach of Canada’s World Junior gold medal winning team in 2020.

YouTube clip: Hunter was the first player in NHL history to score two separate series clinching goals in overtime. The first was with Quebec in Game 5 of 1982 Adams Division Semi-Finals versus Montreal. The second was with Washington in Game 7 of 1988 Patrick Division Semi-Finals versus Philadelphia.

Card 210 - Danton Cole

A forward, Cole was drafted 123rd overall by Winnipeg in 1985. Before his pro season in 1989-90 with Moncton in the AHL he would win three consecutive NCAA titles at Michigan State. Cole would also make his NHL debut that season, getting into two games with the Jets.

1990-91 would see Cole play 66 games with the Jets, scoring 13 goals and 24 points. After one final season in Winnipeg, he would be traded to the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning in June 1992. Cole would experience his best statistical season in 1993-94 with the Lightning, playing in 81 games, scoring 20 goals and 43 points. The following season he would be traded to New Jersey in a four-player swap; Cole would play 12 games with the Devils, including one playoff game, as New Jersey would win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

For 1995-96 Cole would sign with the New York Islanders, appearing in 10 games before a February trade to Chicago. Cole would play two games with the Hawks, spending the rest of his season in the minors. He would play the 1996-97 season in Germany, returning to North American to play with Grand Rapids in the IHL for four seasons before retiring in 1999 to become an assistant coach.

In seven NHL seasons Cole played in 318 games, scoring 58 goals and 118 points. In retirement Cole has coached in the IHL (Grand Rapids), the United Hockey League (Motor City), the NCAA (with Bowling Green and Alabama-Huntsville) and from 2010 to 2017 was coach of the US National Team Development Program. Since 2017 he has been head coach of his alma mater, Michigan State.

YouTube clip: scoring an empty netter, his second goal of the game, against Quebec to seal a 4-1 victory for the Lightning.

Card 211 - Jeff Brown

A defenceman, Brown was drafted 36th overall by Quebec in 1984. After winning most outstanding defenceman in 1986 with Sudbury in the OHL he would make his NHL debut in 1985-86, scoring three goals and five points in eight games. After a season split between the minors and NHL, Brown would play his first full NHL season in 1987-88, scoring 16 goals and 52 points.

December 1989 would see Brown traded to St. Louis in exchange for Tony Hrkac and Greg Millen. In three full seasons with the Blues, he would score 20+ goals twice and 59+ points each season, including a career-highs of 25 goals and 78 points in 1992-93.

Brown would be traded to Vancouver late in the 1993-94 season with Bret Hedican for Nathan Lafayette and Craig Janney. The Canucks would make a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, with Brown scoring six goals and 15 points in 24 playoff games. A year-and-a-half later he would be on his way to Hartford, scoring 55 points during the 94-95 season, the ninth and final time he would surpass 50 points in a season.

Due to a back injury Brown would play only one game with Hartford in 1996-97, and early in 1998 he would be sent to Toronto for a draft pick. He would last 19 games with the Leafs before a deadline trade to Washington for Sylvain Cote. Brown would see action in nine regular season and two playoff games for the Caps before retiring.

In a 13-season NHL career Brown played in 747 games, scoring 154 goals and 584 points, recording 20 or more goals in a season three times. Beginning in 2005 he coach in various minor pro and junior leagues in the United States; mostly recently (2014-17) he was the head coach and general manager for his hometown Ottawa 67s. Brown’s son Logan was a first round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2016.

YouTube clip: reminiscing about his favourite NHL moments, including setting up Pavel Bure’s winner in Western Conference Quarter-Finals Game 7 and scoring the double overtime winner in Game 2 of Norris Division Finals in 1993.

Card 212 - Mike Foligno

A right winger, Foligno was drafted third overall by Detroit in the 1979 entry draft. He was 20 years old when he was drafted, having already played four seasons in the OHL with Sudbury. In his final OHL season he scored 65 goals and 150 points, winning most outstanding player.

Foligno would make his NHL debut in 1979-80, scoring 36 goals and 71 points. Ordinarily that would be good enough for a Calder Trophy win, but he would have to settle for runner up, as someone named Ray Bourque took home the rookie-of-the-year award for 1980. Foligno would play one more season with the Wings before being sent to Buffalo in a six-player trade in December 1981.

Consistency would become Foligno’s calling card in Buffalo - over 10 seasons he would score 20+ goals nine times and record 100+ penalty minutes each season. In 1985-86 he scored a career high 41 goals and 80 points, finishing sixth in post-season all-star voting. Over his decade as a Sabre the team would reach the Adams Division Finals only once, and as Foligno’s scoring declined into his 30s he was traded to Toronto for Lou Franceschetti and Brian Curran.

In three seasons with the Leafs, 55 games was the largest number he would play in a season; however with the 1992-93 Leafs he would play 18 playoff games as the team made the Campbell Conference Finals. Foligno would score the overtime winner in Game 5 of the Norris Division Semi-Finals against Detroit.

Early in the 1993-94 season he would be traded to Florida for cash, playing 39 games with the Panthers before retiring. In 15 NHL seasons Foligno played in 1018 games, scoring 355 goals and 727 points. He was the Sabres’ captain from 1989-91.

Since retirement Foligno has been involved in coaching hockey at the highest levels, including the AHL with St. John’s and Hershey (as head coach from 1998-03); from 2003-2010 he was the head coach and general manager of his former OHL team the Sudbury Wolves; and he has been an assistant coach in the NHL with Colorado (97-98), Anaheim (10-12), and New Jersey (13-15). Most recently Foligno was a scout with Vegas from 2016-2018. His sons Nick and Marcus are also veteran NHLers.

YouTube clip: his famous overtime goal from the 1993 playoffs, complete with two Foligno leaps. The Leafs came back from 4-1 down to win the game. Bonus clip: son Nick imitating his dad’s leap celebration after scoring his first NHL goal.

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