Friday, November 13, 2009
Born on this date in Montreal, Quebec in 1962, Gaetano "Gates" Orlando was drafted 164th overall in the 8th round by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.
Orlando during his time with Buffalo in the NHL
Orlando with SC Bern
He would make his NHL debut in the 1984-85 season for the Sabres after four years at Providence College and get into 11 games that season, which included scoring his first NHL goal, one of three he would get, along with six assists during his time with the Sabres. He would also compete for the Sabres top farm team, the Rochester Americans of the AHL, putting up strong numbers, with 56 points in 49 games.
60 games with the Sabres would follow the next season, with Orlando scoring 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. In 1986-87 he would split time between Buffalo, 10 points in 27 games, and Rochester, where he would again score more than a point per game with 64 points in 44 games.
The 1987-88 season would be one of change for Orlando, as he would play in 13 games for the Americans, with 17 points in 13 games, but then move to HC Merano in Serie A, the top professional league in Italy. His skills would become immediately apparent as Orlando would tear up the league on his arrival with 49 goals and 44 assists for 93 points in a 36 game season, a 2.58 point per game clip, tying him for ninth in league scoring and leading Merano to a second place finish.
A move to HC Bolzano would follow for the 1989-89 season and he would score 79 points in 34 games.
1989-90 was a record setting season for Orlando, as he would net personal highs in goals (64), assists (62) and points with 126, good for 5th place in Serie A scoring and lead Bolzano to the league championship.
The following season would see Orlando compete in 37 games, posting 47 goals and 95 points.
1991-92 saw a move to the Milan Devils and Orlando would score 71 points and help the team capture the Serie A Championship while winning his first league scoring title. The following season Orlando score 41 points and the Milan Devils again would take their second consecutive championship title. The next season would see the Milano Devils undergo a name change to AC Milan Hockey and Orlando's offensive numbers would rebound to 78 points, winning his second scoring title, and the newly renamed club would capture their third league championship in a row.
Orlando moved to the Swiss National League for the next five seasons, first with SC Bern. 55 points in 36 games in 1994-95 would be followed by 41 the next. 1996-97 would see Orlando lead the league in scoring with 82 points from 26 goals and 56 assists in 46 games as Bern would finish atop the league standings and capture the championship.
After one final season with Bern, he would move to Lugano, helping them to the league championship, Orlando's sixth championship in 12 seasons in Europe.
Orlando's Italian heritage qualified him to play internationally for Italy, which hid did often, participating in the World Championships B Pool, finishing second in 1990, when he was the leading scorer of the tournament and named Best Forward, and then first in 1991, earning Italy promotion to the top level A Pool, where Orlando would compete eight consecutive years from 1992 through 1999, comfortably avoiding relegation each time, with a high of sixth place in 1994.
Orlando would also skate for Italy in the Olympics in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway, where Italy would finish with a 3-4 record and Orlando's 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points tied him for second place in scoring with Miroslav Satan, Peter Stastny and Haakan Loob only one point behind Ziggy Palffy's 10 points.
He would again compete in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, where Italy would finish in 12th place with a 1-3 record after failing to advance past the preliminary round.
Orlando was named to the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame in 2008.
Today's featured jersey is a Reebok Italian National Team Gates Orlando jersey as worn in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway and the 1994 and 1995 World Championships.
Not much in the way of video today, but here is documented proof that Orlando was in the NHL at one point and probably should have kept his gloves on.
Here is a mix of highlights of Team Italy, which look to be a mix from around 2006 and some from 1994.