Thursday, May 17, 2007


You Broke My Heart in 17 Places

by Greg

I'm a crap hockey fan, I'll admit -- thanks (mostly) to work, I've seen parts of two games of the conference finals series, and nothing else. (Well, six seconds of a third -- but turning on the TV after I get home to see "Detroit 4 Anaheim 0" was upsetting to my delicate sensibilities)

So hockey's present doesn't hold that much for me. The future undoubtedly holds better things. But lacking second sight, and with a healthy dose of nostalgia (fueled by a recent re-read of Peter Gzowski's "The Game Of Our Lives"), I'll look backwards for a bit.

Backwards... at the players that disappointed me. Players that I was certain were destined for stardom, but who never even came close. (I'll leave Tomas Kloucek out, because I write too damn much about the guy already.)

Jamie Storr -- In pre-Coyotes Phoenix, he was one of the most promising players on the IHL Roadrunners, and seemed destined for great things when we'd trek up I-10 to that horrid old barn the team played in. A girl I nurtured a giant crush on had a thing for Jamie. Looking at his stats now, he did end up with a longer-lived NHL career than I thought, but given that we all expected a straight shot to the Hall of Fame, disappointment was perhaps inevitable.

Jocelyn Thibault -- Honest to God, I thought the Avalanche made a big mistake in giving him up for Patrick Roy.

Rene Corbet -- One of the most exciting and entertaining players on the late-'90s Avalanche, with a spastic skating style, a knack for timely goals and a willingness to fight (and lose to) anyone. I thought he was the next great Av -- so did Stan Fischler. In a period of unbridled optimism, I thought Fisch's support was a good thing. Eventually did become a superstar -- unfortunately it was in Germany.

Josef Marha -- His trade to Anaheim for Warren Rychel remains one of the low points in my hockey fandom. I still think it was a big mistake, even if the stats don't back me up. Last seen with bags packed for Switzerland.

Vladimir Vujtek -- One of the most recognizable names (to me) on the first-year Thrashers, there was (as I recall) a fair amount of buzz around him. He continued his knack for utterly bizarre injuries by taking a skate across the face in the pre-season, and only ended up playing three games for Atlanta. Bonus fun fact: for several years afterwards, the Thrashers inexplicably kept a giant -- we're talking wall-sized -- photo of ol' Skate-Face up in the team store.

Vitali Karamnov, Igor Korolev, and Vitali Prokhorov -- The Blues' first foray into Russian players, taking up the first three picks in a early-'90s draft. Like most of the Blues' draft moves in those years, it was an enormous mistake. Beyond Korolev, who even remembers the other two?

Patrik Stefan -- Patty and I came to Atlanta in the same month. In the long run, I probably had more of an impact on the city, at least in helping to keep local bars solvent.

L'ubomir Vaic -- Oh, I cheat here. I didn't pay much attention to ol' Lubo until after his North American career has ended. He has apparently left his Czech team this off-season, which can only mean one thing -- he's coming back to Vancouver, Canucks fans!


I remember watching a game Vaic played for the Canucks. He looked like a little pee wee kid skating around at 100 miles an hour. He did a few little spins and circles here and there, and the fans seemed to love him. Too bad he didn't stay around very long.
1. Storr is definitely on my list. I used to peg 1-2 dark-horse guys that would become stars, and he was one of them...

2. So was Josef Marha. I still maintain that he never got a fair shot in the NHL. He's a great playmaker, and did produce when given the chance.

3. Don't forget Konstantin Shafranov, the first Kazakh in the NHL.

4. Vaic - For some weird reason, he started pouting and playing like dump this season. Vaic is usually a waterbug, but apparently just played like Valeri Bure on NyQuil. Even Pletka was better than him!
"Even Pletka"??

I'd forgotten about Shafranov, but he was never really on my radar long enough to expect anything. Actually, most Blues draft picks of the 1990s could be on there ... Zabransky, Prochazka, Christer Olsson, Maxim Bets, Tyler Rennette...
For me: Vaic and Marha for sure!Mine also include Jeff Friesen and Simon Gamache off the top of my head.
Ulf Dahlen?
Pat Peake?
Derek Plante?
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