Friday, October 16, 2009
Born in Lithuania on this date in 1972, Darius Kasparaitis first played for Dynamo Moscow at the age of 16 during the 1988-89 season, the first Lithuanian to play in the Soviet Hockey League, and won the Soviet League Championship with Dynamo in 1992.
After his fourth season with Dyanmo, he was drafted by the New York Islanders with the 5th overall pick in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. He jumped straight into the NHL later that year, playing in 79 games with the Islanders and announced his presence as a tough, physical player immediately as he led the team in hits, as well as scoring a career high 21 points on four goals and 17 assists.
After four seasons with the Islanders, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1998-97 season where he would play six seasons, during which he would score one of the most notable goals in his career, a Game 7 overtime versus the Buffalo Sabres in the 2001 playoffs.
A late season trade in 2002 would see him play 11 games for the Colorado Avalanche and then sign the following season with the New York Rangers, where he would play parts of four seasons.
During the lockout year of 2004-05 he would join many other NHL players on Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Super League.
2006-07 would see him return to Europe to play for SKA St. Petersburg on loan from the Rangers.
In international play, Kasparaitis has played for the Soviet Union in the 1990 European Junior Championships and the 1991 World Juniors, earning silver both times. 1992 would see him earn gold medals for the CIS/Unified Team in both the World Juniors, where he was named best defenseman, and Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.
With the political situation in Russia now resolved, Kasparaitis would now play for Russia in the 1992 and 1996 World Championships, the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Olympics, earning a bronze in 2002 and a silver in 1998.
Today's featured jersey is a 1990-91 Dynamo Moscow Darius Kasparaitis jersey. It's very typical of Soviet jerseys of the time period in that it is a light weight mesh with all the graphics silk screened onto the jersey with the name on the back being a classic example of Cyrillic lettering. The jersey shows good game use with several black stick marks on the arms and body.
Elvis has left the building as Kasparaitis scores his Game 7 overtime versus the Buffalo Sabres in the 2001 playoffs.
Here is an interview with Kasparaitis and his hair before the 2006 Olympic Games.
Finally a compliation of hits by Kasparaitis from the 1993-94 season.