Saturday, March 12, 2011
Not every player can enjoy a career like that of Steve Yzerman, who played 22 seasons with just one club, yet there are many players who carve out long careers in hockey yet are virtually unknown to many. One such player is Kirby Law, who was born on this date in 1977.
Law, a winger, began his junior hockey career at the age of 16 with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League in 1993-94. His second season saw him play 46 games with Saskatoon before joining the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the final 24 games of the season. He returned to Lethbridge for two more years and in 1996-97 averaged more than a point per game for the first time with 39 goals and 52 assists for 91 points, as well as 200 penalty minutes, in 91 games. Law also scored 18 points in 19 playoff contests as Lethbridge advanced all the way to the Memorial Cup Final.
He was traded to the Brandon Wheat Kings prior to the start of the 1997-98 season where he played an injury shortened 49 game season, but still put up impressive averages, scoring 34 goals and 44 assists for 78 points and 153 penalty minutes in the rough Western League.
Undrafted by the NHL, Law found employment with the Orlando Solar Bears of the International Hockey League for the 1998-99 season, where he played 67 games before joining the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League for 11 regular season games and the first round of their playoffs.
That summer Law was signed as a free agent by the Atlanta Thrashers and played the majority of the year with the short-lived Louisville Panthers of the AHL. His rights were traded by Atlanta to the Philadelphia Flyers who assigned Law to their top minor league affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL for the remainder of the season.
He finished the next season fourth in scoring for the Phantoms with 61 points in 78 games and continued to play his usual rough and rugged style so common in WHL graduates with 150 penalty minutes. He also had the thrill of making his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers when he was called up for a single game.
The pattern was now set, as Law played 71 games for the Phantoms without a call-up in 2001-02, 74 games in the AHL and two games for the Flyers in 2002-03 and 74 games for the Phantoms, scoring 73 points in 74 games, and six games for the Flyers, which included an assist, Law's first and only NHL point, in 2003-04 season.
Law was then signed by the Minnesota Wild organization and assigned to the Houston Aeros of the AHL. With the NHL season cancelled that season, there was no possibility of a call-up.
While Law finished the season with 49 points in 80 games in 2004-05, his offensive game exploded the next season as he scored 43 goals, his first season of 40 goals or more at any level. Additionally, he was credited with 67 assists for 110 points to earn the Aeros team captain captured the Sollenberger Trophy as the leading scorer in the AHL.
Despite leading the AHL in scoring, it was not enough to earn even a single game with the offensively challenged Wild (24th out of 30 in NHL scoring). Law then began the European phase of his career when he joined Geneve Servette Eagles of the Swiss National League A for 2006-07. He returned to Servette for a second season and averaged more than a point per game his two seasons with the club, 91 in 80 games over the two seasons.
He moved even farther east in 2008-09 with ten games in the Kontinental Hockey League for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik before returning to Switzerland and joining HC Fribourg-Gotteron for the reminder of the season.
2009-10 was yet another new club for Law, HC Ambri Piotta, also of the Swiss NLA.
Despite only registering a single NHL point during his career, Law has played 1,165 games, scoring 409 goals and 546 assists for 955 points and 1,852 penalty minutes.
While playing in Switzerland in 2007-08, Law was named as a member of Team Canada for the annual Spengler Cup tournament, held annually between Christmas and New Year Eve since 1923, which featured not only Team Canada, mainly comprised of Canadians playing professionally in Europe each season, but club teams from the Czech Republic, Germany, Russia and the hosts HC Davos. During their four games in the round robin portion of the competition, Canada won 3 in regulation and another in overtime to finish first and qualify for the finals against HC Salavaat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL, whom Canada defeated 2-1, with Law scoring the first goal for Canada 7 minutes into the second period to help Canada earn their first Spengler Cup since 2003.
Today's featured jersey is a 2007 Team Canada Kirby Law jersey as worn during the Spengler Cup tournament. Canada's Spengler Cup jerseys regularly feature the "speeding leaf within a leaf" logo, which has otherwise not been used on Canadian jerseys since 1995 when the black and red Hockey Canada logo with the silhouette of a player was first introduced.
Today's video segment has Law earning some of his many penalty minutes while with the Phantoms in the AHL.