Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Pull up a chair, sit back and let us tell you about a journey which follows a long and winding path across a vast continent from west to east, from the north to the south and finally to distant lands across a mighty ocean and back. And then back again...
The professional hockey career of Michel Petit began in 1982-83 when he made his NHL debut with a pair of games for the Vancouver Canucks after having been the Canucks 1st pick in the 1982 Entry Draft. He spent the majority of the season with the St. Jean Castors of the QMJHL in Canadian Juniors, 2,302 miles to the east but made the Canucks squad after 19 games with the Canadian National Team in 1983-84 and saw action in 44 games, which included the defenseman's first goal.
Petit played 69 games with the Canucks in 1984-85 and split time between the Canucks and the Fredericton Express of the AHL (in eastern Canada 2,670 miles away in New Brunswick) in 1985-86. After one more season with the Canucks, ten games into the 1988-89 season he was dealt to the New York Rangers for two players, across the border 2,425 miles away. Once in New York, he wasted little time establishing a career high in penalty minutes, racking up 223 in 64 games with the Rangers in addition to the 35 he had already accumulated in Vancouver.
After a second season on Broadway, the Rangers dealt Petit back across the border to the Quebec Nordiques 442 miles to the north. Following the season Petit had the honor of skating for Canada at the 1990 World Championships in Switzerland.
After 19 games of the 1990-91 season, Petit began his journey back west when he was included in a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 451 miles to the southwest. He played in 54 games with the Maple Leafs and set a career high in goals and points that season, lighting the lamp 4 times in Quebec and 9 times in Toronto for a total of 13. His final point total reached 37, eclipsing his previous season's mark of 36.
Petit once more was on the move 1,682 miles down the Trans Canada Highway when he was a part of the blockbuster ten player deal with the Calgary Flames which sent Doug Gilmour to Toronto. He played two and a half seasons with the Flames before completing his second trip across the continent, and third trip across the border, when he signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings for the 1995-95 season, 1,194 miles south.
Racking up the frequent flyer miles, the Kings sent Petit was sent 2,148 miles across the United States 9 games into the following season when they traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a season which included the most playoff action of his career with six postseason games.
It was back north across the Canadian border 2,363 miles up to Edmonton where he signed as a free agent to start the 1996-97 campaign. By January he had only seen action in 18 games and was claimed off of waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers across the border once more 2,009 miles to the east.
He began the 1997-98 season with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL (441 miles from Philadelphia) and was then signed by the Phoenix Coyotes in November, adding another 1,686 miles to his journey and making him the first player in NHL history to play for ten different teams when he made his Coyotes debut on this date in 1987.
He began the 1998-99 season 256 miles north with the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL but missed the majority of the season when he suffered a head injury which limited him to just six games.
Petit's journey through the world of hockey now expanded beyond North America when he signed to play with the Frankfurt Lions of the German DEL for 1999-00, adding 5,577 miles to his itinerary. Still with the Lions at the start of the 2000-01 season, he returned to North America when he joined the Chicago Wolves in the IHL, 4,341 miles on the return leg to the United States.
With no North American opportunities available for the 2001-02 season, Petit packed his gear bag for the final time when he closed out his playing career with 14 games with HC Bolzano of the Italian Serie A in the far northeast of Italy where the Italian Serie A hockey league is concentrated, 4,571 miles from the midwest.
By our calculations, Petit played professionally for 16 different clubs in four different countries which included crossing an international border to change clubs ten different times, traveling 34,558 miles from club to club, and he wore a total of 21 different NHL jerseys.
While a remarkable number, it falls far short of the estimated 40 worn by Third String Goalie legend Mike Sillinger.
Today's featured jersey is a 1986-87 Vancouver Canucks Michel Petit jersey. This jersey was worn during Petit's sixth season with the Canucks prior the beginning of his hockey odyssey that would send him back and forth across North America seven times.
This style of Canucks jersey was adopted in 1985 after seven seasons with the controversial "flying V" style worn in Petit's NHL debut season. In 1985-86 when this jersey debuted it was worn with both the Expo 86 patch as well as the City of Vancouver 100th Anniversary patch.
During the season our featured jersey was worn, the Canucks wore one of the most unique patches in NHL history, a patch supporting Rick Hansen's Man in Motion World Tour, where Hansen pushed his wheelchair nearly 25,000 miles to raise money for spinal cord injury research over two years through 34 countries and 4 continents, which raised $26 million. It is the only patch in league history to be placed on the lower left hem.
Two seasons later the Canucks wore a memorial patch to former NHL player and Canucks goodwill ambassador "Babe" Pratt, making for four different patches worn during the four year lifespan of this style Canucks jersey before it evolved to an even simpler style in 1989-90.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2000-01 Frankfurt Lions Michel Petit jersey from his second season with Frankfurt in the German DEL. Petit was not alone that season, as the nine leading scorers for Frankfurt were fellow Canadians!
The Lions were founded in 1959 and won the DEL championship in 2004, but sadly ceased operations at the end of the 2009-10 season after 50 seasons of competition.
In today's video section, Dale Henry of the Islanders shreds Petit's jersey in the early part of a brawl and Petit responds by knocking Henry into the middle of next week.
Here, Petit stands in against Bob Probert, and while he may not have won the fight, he certainly earns our respect for getting back up off the ice twice and continuing to battle the feared Probert, even landing a few solid blows in the process.