Thursday, April 28, 2011
Neal Broten's career got off to a flying start as he, already the winner of an NCAA Championship with the University of Minnesota and an Olympic Gold Medal as part of the famed "Miracle on Ice" United States Olympic hockey team before he even started playing for the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL late in the 1981 season. It was a baptism by fire as he immediately found himself in the Stanley Cup Finals facing the mighty New York Islanders in only his 19th professional game. He signed with the North Stars at the conclusion of the Minnesota Gophers 1980-81 season in time to play just the final three regular season games before being thrown headfirst into the NHL playoffs, where the North Stars made their run to the finals.
In his first full regular season with the North Stars, Broten would score 38 goals and 98 points while finishing as runner up for the Calder Memorial Trophy. The following year he would play in his first NHL All-Star Game and would then go on to lead the North Stars in scoring in three if his first five seasons, including the 1985-86 season, when he would total a career high 105 points to become the first American-born player to reach 100 points in a season and once more play in the NHL All-Star Game.
In 1991, the North Stars would once again go on a run through the playoffs, with Broten scoring 22 points in 23 games as the North Stars would reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in club history.
Broten would eventually move with the franchise to Dallas for the 1993-94 season. During the following season he would be traded to the New Jersey Devils, which would include playing in his 1,000th NHL regular season game, becoming only the fourth U. S. born player, after Gordie Roberts, fellow Minnesotan Mike Ramsey and Joe Mullen, to reach that milestone of longevity.
Broten would conclude his season by scoring the game winning goal in the cup clinching Game 4 to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career, giving him the rare trifecta of the capturing the NCAA Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal and the Stanley Cup.
After a brief stint with the Los Angeles Kings in the 1996-97 season, he would return to the Stars to close out his playing days, finishing with 1,099 games played, 289 goals, 634 assists and 923 points.
He would also retire with several team records for the Stars franchise, including the most assists (593), most games played (992), most points (867), most seasons (16), most assists in a single season (76) and most points by a rookie (98) as well as retiring as second all-time in points by an American (923) and with the most games played by an American (1,099).
Aside from the well known 1980 Olympics, Broten would later go on to be a member of Team USA in the 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup tournaments as well as the 1990 World Championships.
His #7 would be retired by the Stars in 1998 and he would be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.
Today's featured jersey is a 1994-95 New Jersey Devils Neal Broten jersey as worn during the season Broten would not only play in his 1,00th NHL game, but score the clinching goal to win the Stanley Cup.
The Devils adopted this style jersey for the 1993-94 season and it has remained essentially unchanged ever since. Additionally, the Devils are one of the few teams to have never adopted an alternate jersey. They have worn their original red, white and green jerseys on a couple of occasions, but as a special occasion throwback, and not as part of their current jersey set.
Today's video section begins with Broten scoring during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals followed by highlights of the deciding Game 6, during which Broten would score the cup clinching goal.
It's just too hard to pass on an opportunity to show Broten's notorious fight with Wayne Gretzky, perhaps the single most unlikely fight in NHL history.