Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Ron Tugnutt set a record on this date in 2002, when he became the first goaltender to play for eight different teams when he made his Dallas Stars debut with a 5-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Tugnutt's long journey began back in Peterborough, Ontario while as a member of the Petes in the Ontario Hockey League, he was drafted 81st overall in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft after going 18-7 with the Petes that year. One more season with Peterborough ensued prior to joining the Fredericton Express of the AHL in 1987-88. He then made his NHL debut with the Nordiques on December 29, 1987 with a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. In all, he would play in 6 games with the Nordiuqes that season.
In 1988-89, he would split time between the Halifax Citadels (24 games) and the Nordiques (26 games), going 10-10-3 with Quebec, not a bad feat considering the Nordiques other goalies combined to go 17-36-4 for the worst team in the league.
For an encore, the Nordiques got worse the following season. Much worse. While they scored 61 points the year before, the 1989-90 Nordiques went 12-61-7 for just 31 points, 33 points less than the next worst team! Needless to day Tugnutt's numbers took a beating that year and his final win-loss record was 5-24-3 as, searching for answers the Nordiques used no less than seven different goaltenders that season, with the other six combining for 7 wins.
The Nordiques "improved" to 46 points in the 1990-91 standings and 16 wins, 12 of which were by Tugnutt, while four other goalies combined for 4. In one memorable game, he made 70 saves in a 3-3 overtime tie against the Bruins.
After suffering through another season with the terrible Nordiques, Tugnutt was paroled in March of 1992 when he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers late in the season. While he arrived just after the conclusion of the Oilers dynasty, the Oilers were still a contender and made the conference finals, giving Tugnutt his first taste of postseason play.
Unfortunately, the 1992-93 season would see the Oilers miss the NHL playoffs for the first time in their 14 year NHL history.
He was left unprotected by the Oilers that summer and was claimed by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft, ensuring that he would once more end the season without his name being engraved on the Stanley Cup. While the Mighty Ducks did not qualify for the playoffs in their first season, favorable rules allowed them to field a respectable squad and the club won 33 games, 10 of which were by Tugnutt prior to him being traded to the Montreal Canadiens in February of that season.
The 1994-95 season was a lost one for Tugnutt, as he appeared in only 7 games for Montreal, as the Canadiens number one starter Patrick Roy played in the vast majority of games in the strike shortened season.
Although he was signed by the Washington Capitals organization prior to the 1995-96 season, he would never appear in a game for the Capitals as he would spend the entire year back in the AHL with the Portland Pirates where he set a career high with 58 games played.
Happy to have a chance to return to the NHL, Tugnutt signed with the Ottawa Senators, his 5th NHL club, despite the fact Ottawa had yet to make the playoffs in their four year history. Splitting time with Damian Rhodes that season, the Senators earned their first playoff berth and Tugnutt set a personal NHL best with 17 wins and finally found some stability in the NHL.
The next two seasons Tugnutt would appear in 43 and then 44 games while in tandem with Rhodes and raised his best win total up to 22 along with a standout 1.79 goals against average in 1998-99, which earned him some consideration in the Vezina Trophy balloting in which he placed fifth and his only appearance in an NHL All-Star Game that season.
There were changes for 1999-00, as Tugnutt now shared time with Patrick Lalime following the departure of Rhodes, and despite starting the bulk of the games for the Senators, he was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline. In Pittsburgh, he got the most playoff experience of his career, with 11 games in the 2000 postseason.
With his contract now expired, Tugnutt signed as a free agent with the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2000-01 season and set an NHL high with 53 games played as well as a respectable 22-25-5 mark for the first year club to set a record for wins with a first year expansion team.
After one more season with the Blue Jackets, Tugnutt was traded to the Dallas Stars for the 2002-03 season and would become the first NHL goalie to play for eight different teams when he made his first start for the Stars on this date in 2002. After one more season, in which he played 12 games for the Stars and 5 for the Utah Grizzlies in the AHL, Tugnutt found himself unsigned following the season lost to the NHL lockout and retired as a player.
His final NHL totals were 537 games played, 186 wins, 239 losses and 62 ties while playing on some truly horrible clubs and a series of expansion teams.
Internationally, Tugnutt played for Team Canada in the World Championships twice, in 1993 and 1998.
Today's featured jersey is a 1990-91 Quebec Nordiques Ron Tugnutt jersey. from the season in which he had his 70 save performance against the Bruins. The Nordiques were the last NHL club to use heat sealed material for their names and numbers, which shown here is prone to discolorization and long-term cracking and peeling, making them a challenge for collectors of game worn jerseys to keep in good condition.
All told, Tugnutt would wear 18 different jerseys during his NHL career, including two alternate styles while with Ottawa and Dallas.
Today's video section highlights the 70 saves Tugnutt made in one game versus the Boston Bruins in 1991.
Here is an interview with Tugnutt following the conclusion of his career.
While we normally avoid "slideshow" videos, this look at Tugnutt's career includes enough video clips and is a very nice retrospective on his career that we are pleased to bring it to you today.