Friday, June 8, 2012
Born on this date in 1960 in Sweden, Thomas Steen began his career with Grums IK in 1975-76 and moved over to the Leksands IF junior team in 1976-77, the year he made is debut for the Sweden National Team at the European Junior Championships where he scored 8 points in 6 games as Sweden took home the gold medal.
After a move up to the Elitserien in 1977-78, Steen would play three seasons with Leksands IF. He would also participate for Sweden in the World Junior Tournament in 1978 (silver), 1979 (bronze) and 1980 (bronze). Following the 1978-79 season, Steen was drafted 103rd overall by the Winnipeg Jets.
He moved to Farjestads BK for 1980-81 and more than doubled his previous season high in points when he scored 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points in 32 games on his way to being named 1981 Elitserien Player of the Year as Farjestads won the Swedish Championship.
Now playing at the senior level, Steen participated in both the World Championships, earning a sliver medal, and also skated in the 1981 Canada Cup.
Having reached the top of Swedish hockey, Steen moved to North America for the 1981-82 season and made his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets.
His first four seasons saw him adapt quite well to the North American game and his point totals improved each season, from 44 as a rookie, to 59, then 65 and then setting a career high with 30 goals on his way to 84 points in 1984-85. Prior to that season Steen also competed in his second Canada Cup, the 1984 edition in which he led the tournament in goal scoring with 7 goals in 8 games.
After three more steady seasons, which included Steen scoring 11 points in 8 games for Sweden at the 1986 World Championships, helping Sweden to bring home the silver medal, he would set a career high with 88 points from 27 goals and 61 assists in 1988-89 and follow that with his final appearance at the World Championships in 1989.
Health issues began to affect Steen, as he only played in 53 games in 1989-90, his first season under 73 games in his nine years in the NHL, due to a back injury. Those 53 games were very productive however, as Steen totaled 66 points for 1.25 points per game, the highest average of his career. He was also named as one of the team captains for 1989-90 and 1990-91.
The following season was a carbon copy of the previous one, with 67 points in just 58 games played, this time due to a broken ankle. Prior to the start of the 1991-92 season, Steen played for the Sweden National Team for the final time when he played in the 1991 Canada Cup, his third.
Another short season of 38 games in 1991-92 due to both ankle and back issues was followed by a return to health, with 80 games and 72 points in 1992-93 and 76 games and 51 points in 1993-94.
His final NHL season of 1994-95 saw him play in 31 games during the strike-shortened season and finish his 14 year NHL career, spent entirely in Winnipeg, with 950 games played, 264 goals and 553 assists for 817 points. Steen remains the second leading scorer in franchise history, including their over ten years in Phoenix as the Coyotes.
At the conclusion of his career, Winnipeg retired Steen's #25 on May 6, 1995, one of only two numbers ever retired by the Jets and the very first European player to have his number retired by an NHL club.
Steen would come out of retirement in 1996 to play with the Frankfurt Lions of the German DEL in 4 regular season and 3 playoff contests. He would continue playing the following season, joining the Berlin Polar Bears, for whom he would play for three seasons before retiring again in 1999.
Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Winnipeg Jets Thomas Steen jersey. This jersey has the "Goals for Kids" patch on the left sleeve and features the NHL 75th Anniversary patch on the right chest as worn by all players in the NHL that season.
After Winnipeg adopted a new set of jerseys for their entry into the NHL in 1979, this was their second and final NHL jersey, which served them well from 1990 to 1996.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1996-97 Eisbaren Berlin "Berlin Polar Bears" Thomas Steen jersey as worn during the final few seasons of Steen's career after he came out of retirement from the NHL. Steen scored 33 points in 49 games.
This jersey has the typical European flair with it's sublimated graphics, multiple, if not excessive, sponsorship logos and even sports a collar, something more common in the Scandinavian leagues. It also has the European-standard player name located below the number on the back, giving the more prominent location above the number to yet another sponsor logo.
Our video segment begins with Thomas Steen scoring with just seven seconds left in regulation to fuel a late Winnipeg comeback versus the Chicago Blackhawks from 1991-92. Note that the Blackhawks are wearing their Turn Back the Clock jerseys, worn only during the NHL's 75th Anniversary season.
Next is the retirement ceremony in Winnipeg for Thomas Steen's sweater #25.