Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Proving once again that not every successful career in hockey revolves around time spent in the NHL, Steve Maltais, born in this date in 1969, began his career in hockey with the Cornwall Royals of the Ontario Hockey League in 1986-87. Showing his offensive talent right off the bat, the 17-year-old scored 32 goals as a rookie in junior hockey. Following the season he was drafted by the Washington Capitals 57th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Still with the Royals, he raised his goal total to 39 the following season, and combined with his 46 assists, registered 85 points in 59 games.
Cornwall Royal Maltais
His final season with Cornwall saw another quantum leap forward for Maltais, as he led the Royals in scoring with 53 goals and 70 assists for a 123 point campaign, good for fourth overall in OHL scoring. He then led the club in playoff scoring with a dominant 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points in 18 games. Following the conclusion of the Royals season, Maltais began is professional career with 4 playoff games with the Fort Wayne Komets of the International Hockey League.
For the 1989-90 season, he was assigned to the Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League, where the AHL rookie was third in team scoring with 66 points in 67 games as well as 16 more in 12 playoff games. During the season he also made his NHL debut with the Capitals, appearing in 8 regular season games and 1 playoff game, yet failing to register a point.
Back with Baltimore for the 1990-91 season, he proved he had not forgotten how to score, 36 goals and 79 points came in 73 games, yet when called up by the Capitals for 7 games, he once again was snake-bit, failing to score even a point once again.
During the offseason, his rights were dealt to the Minnesota North Stars and as a result he spent 48 games with the North Stars IHL affiliate, the Kalamazoo Wings, where in 48 games he scored 25 goals and 56 assists. He was also called up to play with Minnesota in the NHL, where the thankfully scored not only his first NHL point, but goals as well with a pair of goals and an assist in 12 games. However, he was traded in early March of 1992 to the Quebec Nordiques organization, who assigned him to the Halifax Citadels in the AHL for 10 games to finish out the season.
During the offseason his rights were claimed by the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning, with whom he played 63 games, more than half his eventual NHL total, scoring 20 points. He exceeded that mark with 24 points in 16 games with the Atlanta Knights of the IHL that same season.
On the move once again, Maltais was then traded by Tampa Bay to the Detroit Red Wings for the 1993-94 season. Detroit called him up for 4 games that season, but the vast majority of his time was spent playing for the Adirondack Red Wings in the AHL, netting 35 goals and 84 points in 73 games. He also led the club in playoff scoring with 16 points in 12 games.
Now without a contract, his life and career changed in September of 1994 when he signed a free agent contract with the brand-new Chicago Wolves to be their team captain for their first season of play in the IHL. He immediately led the team (and all of Chicago for that matter) in scoring with 57 goals and 41 assists for 98 points as well as a 145 penalty minutes, his first career season over 100 penalty minutes. His 57 goals also led the IHL in that category for the season.
Back with the Wolves for the 1995-96 season, he nearly equalled his goal total with 56, but raised his assist total to 66, giving him a career high 122 points, which only placed him second on the club! He also found the time to spend 161 minutes in the penalty box.
Maltais next set a career high with 60 goals in 1996-97 during a 114 point season, reclaiming the IHL goal scoring title in the process. The following season he reached 46 goals and 103 points, to lead the Wolves in scoring for the second time in their four years to date. His 46 goals also tied him for the league lead in that category. The Wolves then went onto the postseason, defeating the Manitoba Moose in 3 straight, ousting the Milwaukee Admirals and then the Long Beach Ice Dogs in 6 games each to advance to the finals against the Detroit Vipers in what would turn out to be a hard fought 7 game series, where the Wolves came back from a 3-2 to win Games 6 and 7 to earn their first Turner Cup championship.
Maltais' fourth consecutive 100 point season came in 1998-99 as part of a 56 goal performance, his fourth season of 55 goals or more in his five seasons with the Wolves. His 56 goals were 10 more than his next closest pursuer, and his fourth time leading the league.
He once again repeated as the leading goal scorer in the IHL, with 44 in 1999-00 on his way to a 90 point season, ending his 100 point streak at four, but oddly, despite seeing his streak of 100 point seasons ending and putting up his lowest point total in six seasons, Maltais actually led the entire IHL in scoring for the only time, earning the Lamoureux Trophy in the process!
During the playoffs, Maltais was second in team scoring with 13 points in 16 games as Chicago swept Long Beach in 4, outlasted Houston in 5 and defeated Grand Rapids 4 games to 2 to won their second Turner Cup.
2000-01 was a season of change, and with the NHL expanding yet again, the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets came calling, signing Maltais as a free agent for their inaugural 2000-01 season, but in 26 games, his NHL scoring jinx was still in effect and he was released after registering just 3 assists and no goals.
Change was also the order of the day in the minors, as the IHL had ceased operations at the end of the previous season, but the Chicago Wolves were one of six teams admitted to the AHL, and Maltais returned home to the Wolves, scoring 31 goals and 63 points in 67 games. Chicago again went on a postseason run, defeating the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 2 games to 1 in a close fought three game series, with each game ending with the same 3-2 score, one in overtime. They then won Game 5 of a five game series on the road against Grand Rapids before winning Game 7 of a seven game series on the road against Syracuse. Fellow IHL refugees the Houston Aeros fell in five games after Houston had won Game 1 followed by four straight by the Wolves. Chicago then split the opening two games on the road before returning home to win three straight to defeat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4 games to 1 to capture the Calder Cup in their first season as members of the AHL despite entering the playoffs with the 16th best record in the league!
The 2002-03 season saw another 30 goals and 86 points, which earned him the Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL's leading scorer. That was followed by 31 goals and 64 points in 2003-04 to lead the Wolves in scoring for the sixth time in the Wolves ten seasons.
In his final season, Maltais scored 60 points in 80 games, plust 12 more in 18 games as the Wolves made it all the way to the Calder Cup finals to close out his career. In his 11 seasons as a member of the Wolves, captaining the team for nine of them, the club never had a losing record.
While is NHL career totals are an unremarkable 9 goals and 27 points in 120 games, his combined IHL and AHL totals are an impressive 596 goals and 669 assists for 1,265 points in 1,126 games, two scoring championships (one in each league) as well as two Turner Cups and a Calder Cup championship. He still holds the record as the franchise's all-time leading scorer and his 596 goals ranks 8th in minor league history. His #11 was retired by the Wolves on April 15, 2006, one of only two numbers ever retired by the club.
Today's featured jersey is a 2003-04 Chicago Wolves Steve Maltais jersey. The Wolves wore this style for every one of their seasons in the IHL with only minor patching variations to report, including the IHL 50th Anniversary patch during their inaugural 1994-95 season, Turner Cup Finals patches in 1998, 2000 and 2001, as well as several sponsor patches throughout their history. Today's featured jersey is decorated with the Wolves 10th Anniversary patch.
While the top minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers, the Wolves did adopt a striking alternate jersey heavily influenced by the Thrashers original template, only with enough unique additions, especially on the torso of the jersey to make it their own.
Even with the change to the new Reebok template and it's curved lower hem, the Wolves have remained true to their original home and away jerseys, worn now for 18 seasons.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 IHL All-Star Game Steve Maltais jersey. Eerily similar to the "waving flag" style Nike jerseys used in the 1996 World Cup of hockey, this IHL All-Star jersey frankly isn't the most attractive jersey we've ever seen, but it does speak to the unquestioned success Maltais had in the IHL and later the AHL, with his multiple championships, scoring titles and all-star game appearances.
In today's video section, take a look at the goal scoring prowess of Maltais.