Friday, January 8, 2010
On this date in 1994, Dino Ciccarelli of the Detroit Red Wings scored his 500th goal in a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Ciccarelli was an undrafted free agent due to suffering a severely broken leg in junior hockey. The North Stars had noticed him the year before when he was too young to be eligible for the draft, so when he went through the 1979 draft with out being selected, the North Stars had him checked out by a doctor and signed him to a contract.
"I broke my femur badly enough in my second year of junior hockey that the doctors didn't give me much chance of ever being able to play professionally. I had scored 72 goals the previous season, but my injury wiped me off everyone's draft list in 1979. I wasn't going to let that stop me. I had to go through a year and a half of rehabilitation, but I was determined to do everything I could to live out my dream and play in the National Hockey League. I was totally frustrated when I recovered from the injury, scored 50 goals in my last season of junior and was passed on for the second time at the 1980 draft." recalled Ciccarelli.
"Lou Nanne of the Minnesota North Stars finally gave me an opportunity when he signed me as a free agent. He sent me to Oklahoma City to see how I'd fare in the minors. Things went well, and three-quarters of the way through the season, I was called up to Minnesota for a few games." said Ciccarelli.
After proving himself in the minors, Ciccarelli would play in 32 regular season games with the North Stars, doing quite well for a rookie scoring 18 goals and 30 points, but would really catch fire during the playoffs. Teamed with fellow rookies Neal Broten and Brad Palmer, Ciccarelli would set the rookie playoff scoring records for goals, with 14, and points, with 21, in 19 games as the North Stars would reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. Ciccarelli quickly became a fan favorite with the North Stars fans for his willingness to stand in the crease and absorb all manner of abuse from defenders and goalies alike and they responded by waving inflatable dinosaurs during home games at Met Center.
He would follow up his outstanding playoff performance of the previous year by leading the 1981-82 North Stars in goals with 55 and penalty minutes with 138. He would also surpass the 100 point mark, finishing with 106, the highest single season total of his career. He would also put any doubts about his leg to rest by playing 76 games or more his first three seasons.
He would play nine seasons for Minnesota, leading the team in goals five times while totaling 332 regular season goals for the North Stars, including another season of over 50 goals with 52 and 103 points in 1986-87, before being traded to the Washington Capitals late in the 1988-89 season.
In Washington, Ciccarelli would continue to park himself in front of the net, absorbing all manner of abuse in the days when the defense was allowed to cross-check him at will. Still, he would score 112 goals for the Capitals in the three plus seasons in Washington, leading the team in scoring in 1989-90 with 79 points.
In the summer of 1992, Ciccarelli was traded to the Detroit Red Wings, where he would proceed to score 41 goals during his first season in Detroit, his sixth and final season scoring 40 goals or more. After four seasons in Detroit, which included scoring his 500th goal on this date in 1994, just the 19th player in NHL history to do so, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in time for the 1996-97 season as part of a youth movement in Detroit.
Ciccarelli played one full season in Tampa, scoring 35 goals and was dealt to the Florida Panthers half way through the 1997-98 season. It was with Florida that Ciccarelli would score his 600th NHL goal on February 3rd, 1998, only the ninth player ever to reach the 600 mark, in a 1-1 tie with the Red Wings.
He would be limited to just 14 games of the 1998-99 season, due to chronic back problems from a career absorbing punishment while camped out in front of the opposing goal, scoring 6 goals and 1 assist to finish his career with exactly 1200 points from 608 goals and 592 assists. In addition, he scored 73 goals and 118 points in 141 playoff games.
He retired ranked ninth in league history in goals scored, not bad for a player who was never drafted.
Internationally, Ciccarelli appeared for Canada in the 1980 World Junior Tournament, and the 1982 and 1987 World Championships, with his opportunities for more participation limited by his team's frequent qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs each spring. In the first 16 of his 19 NHL seasons, his team's qualified for the playoffs 14 times.
To this day, Ciccarelli remains the highest scoring player in league history not in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the only one with 600 goals to not be included.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Detroit Red Wings Dino Ciccarelli jersey as worn during the season in which Ciccarelli scored his 500th career goal on this date in 1994.
The Red Wings jersey is a true classic in the NHL and has remained essentially unchanged since it was introduced back in 1932 when the club changed their name from the Falcons, as they had been known since 1930.
Here is a prime example of the kind of treatment Ciccarelli received throughout his career standing in front of the opposition's goal.
Here arch-rivals the North Stars and Chicago Black Hawks, both of the "Chuck" Norris Division engage in a bench clearing brawl in 1983 at the 2 second mark you see Denis Savard up close as he challenges the Minnesota bench and Ciccarelli responds at the 6 second mark, emptying both benches.
Finally, a look at Club 22, owned by Dino Ciccarelli in the Detroit area.