Sunday, March 27, 2011

Glory Days: Remembering NHL Legends

This is the first of many retrospective looks on former NHL players of the modern age of hockey, which I define as the 1979-1980 to present. The purpose of doing this is to remind people that beyond the Gretzkys, Messiers, Lemieuxs, and Yzermans, there were other players who gave franchises outstanding performances over their careers.

Peter Šťastný (1980-1995)
Until Joe Sakic arrived in Quebec, there was no more prolific player than Peter Šťastný. With all due respect to Michel Goulet, who had an outstanding career on his own, Šťastný was their captain from 1985 to 1990 and fronted one of the most exciting lines in the history of the National Hockey League.



Indeed, no other brother combination could score quite like the Šťastný brothers of Czechoslovakia. Peter, the center of the Šťastný line, was the most talented of the three brothers, and put up some impressive statistics during his NHL career...Wikipedia delivers:




Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1980–81 Quebec Nordiques NHL 77 39 70 109 37 5 2 8 10 7
1981–82 Quebec Nordiques NHL 80 46 93 139 91 12 7 11 18 10
1982–83 Quebec Nordiques NHL 75 47 77 124 78 4 3 2 5 10
1983–84 Quebec Nordiques NHL 80 46 73 119 73 9 2 7 9 31
1984–85 Quebec Nordiques NHL 75 32 68 100 95 18 4 19 23 24
1985–86 Quebec Nordiques NHL 76 41 81 122 60 3 0 1 1 2
1986–87 Quebec Nordiques NHL 64 24 53 77 43 13 6 9 15 12
1987–88 Quebec Nordiques NHL 76 46 65 111 69
1988–89 Quebec Nordiques NHL 72 35 50 85 117
1989–90 Quebec Nordiques NHL 62 24 38 62 24
1989–90 New Jersey Devils NHL 12 5 6 11 16 6 3 2 5 4
1990–91 New Jersey Devils NHL 77 18 42 60 53 7 3 4 7 2
1991–92 New Jersey Devils NHL 66 24 38 62 42 7 3 7 10 19
1992–93 New Jersey Devils NHL 62 17 23 40 22 5 0 2 2 2
1993–94 St. Louis Blues NHL 17 5 11 16 4 4 0 0 0 2
1994–95 St. Louis Blues NHL 6 1 1 2 0
NHL totals 977 450 789 1239 824 93 33 72 105 125

As you can see, Peter was a prolific goal scorer of the 1980s, along with the likes of Goulet, Bossy, and the host of other NHL legends everyone already knows. He holds a few interesting statistical records within the NHL:

  • 8th all time in points per game with 1.268 points per game.
  • 1st rookie to score 100 points in a season.
  • most assists by a rookie (70).
  • 6 straight 100 point seasons (1 of 7 to do so).
  • Most points in a single road game (8).
  • 1 of 4 people to score 1000 points in the 1980s.

Peter sports some impressive records and accomplishments aside from his statistical prowess. He won the Calder Trophy for an outstanding rookie season, four medals in four years of IIHF World Championships from 1976-1979 (back to back gold followed by back to back silver), silver playing for Czechoslovakia in the 1976 Canada Cup, a gold playing for Canada in the 1984 Canada Cup, and appeared for Slovakia in the 1994 Winter Olympics, making him a player who played for three unique countries in international competition. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998, making him the first European born and trained player to make it. In 2000, he was honoured by the IIHF by being inducted into their Hockey Hall of Fame. Finally, in 2002, he was given the honour of being inducted into the Slovak Hockey Hall of Fame.

Beyond his accomplishments, Peter was part of a rivalry that was violent, volatile, and vibrant in the 1980s: the Montreal Canadiens and the Quebec Nordiques. After defeating the Canadiens in the 1981-1982 Adams Semi-Final, the Nordiques were defeated by the Habs in 1983-84 in the Adams Final. In 1984-85, the Nordiques got their revenge, winning in the Adams Finals. In 1986-87, they lost to the Habs in the Adams final. This would mark the last time Quebec would qualify for the playoffs until 1993 when they were the first victims in Montreal's journey to their 24th Stanley Cup. Here is Peter's greatest contribution to the storied rivalry:





Were it not for Peter, Anton, and Marian Peter Šťastný, the Nordiques franchise would never have been competitive against their provincial rivals. In a fitting twist of fate, Peter's second son, Paul, has been playing for the Colorado Avalanche (the relocated Quebec Nordiques) since he began his professional career in 2006. He currently dons the same number 26 that his father wore for over a decade in Quebec, and had retired before the team was relocated.

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