Sunday, July 11, 2010

REGINA PATS - THREE PLAYERS WHO ONLY PLAYED 1 or 2 GAMES and MADE IT to the NHL

PHIL RUSSELL - (Defence) -
He played but one game with the Regina Pats in the 1969-1970 season: (1-0-1-1-8). Phil was born 21 July 1952, Edmonton, Alberta.
When the Chicago Blackhawks drafted Phil Russell in 1972, there was no mystery about the kind of player they were about to usher into their organization. The big rearguard had just completed a two-year stint with the Edmonton Oil Kings where he led the WCJHL in penalty minutes while showcasing an abundance of hockey skill.
Russell made the leap directly onto the Hawks' blueline corps in 1972-73. From the moment he hit the ice in training camp, the rookie defender made a strong impression on the minds of management and on the bodies of his teammates and opponents.
He arrived in the big leagues as a soft-spoken but hard-nosed type who could skate well for his size, play with muscle, handle the puck with confidence, and contribute to the power play. Russell remained a bellicose mainstay on the Hawks' defense for almost seven seasons. In 1979, his club couldn't resist the opportunity to land the star potential of Tom Lysiak. The trade, one of the larger in league history, displaced a wagonload of players, including Russell who went south to Atlanta. Initially, the big blueliner was not happy to be dispatched to the Flames. He was fiercely loyal to the Windy City and its team. He considered the move to be a rap on his reputation. But upon further reflection, he eventually recognized that the change had brought a renewed spirit that raised his level of play.
Russell continued to play his game of solid defense for a season and a half and then joined his team in its move to Calgary. He remained in Alberta until his trade to the New Jersey Devils in 1983. By then, he was at the tail end of a lengthy career and the Devils were at the tail end of the league's standing. Nonetheless, he toiled on for three seasons until his trade to the Buffalo Sabres in 1985.
With the Sabres, Russell suited up for only a handful of games over the two seasons he spent with the organization. In 1987-88, he jumped down to the Kalamazoo Wings of the IHL where he concluded his career after appearing in only 27 games.
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AL MacINNIS - (Defence) -
He played only 2 games with the Regina Pats, 1980-1981 season (2-0-0-0-0) and 59 games with the Pat Blues, d
uring 1979-1980 season (59-20-28-48-110). He was born 11 July 1963, Inverness, Nova Scotia.
Al MacInnis had the Blues long before he ever played in St. Louis.
It's a little-known fact that the former NHL defenceman, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, began his junior career in Regina with the SJHL's Pat Blues, who were basically a farm team to the Regina Pats.
Pats GM Bob Strumm recruited MacInnis, a native of Port Hood, N.S., after watching him play in a Winnipeg midget tournament. He spent the next season, 1979-80, with the Pat Canadien Blues as a 16-year-old, play in 59 games, also dressing for two games with the WHL club.

"Today, Al would have been on the major junior team easily," Strumm, the director of pro scouting for the Columbus Blue Jackets, said in an e-mail interview. "In those days, it was difficult to keep a 16-year-old and we already had Garth Butcher on the Pats. In fact, Butcher, MacInnis and Al Tuer were our three 16-year-olds on D that season. What a group!"
Strumm fondly recalled MacInnis's work ethic and desire to hone his skills, noting that he "shot pucks EVERY day after practice. He didn't come by the best shot in the NHL by accident."
The lanky teenager also showed a bit of a mean streak.
"We worried about his toughness that year," said Strumm. "He was tall but slight. Then one night he fought Grant Fagerheim from Estevan at the Agridome. It was NO contest ... for Al. He really gave it to him. We knew after that he was going to be a player for sure.

ESA "TIK, THE GRATE ONE" TIKKANEN - (Left Wing) -
Played only two games with the Regina Pats during the 1981-1982 season: (2-0-0-0-0). Esa was born 23 January 1965, in Helsinki, Finland.
Tikkanen is best known in Finland as a member of the HIFK Helsinki club, but he actually started out with Jokerit, their crosstown rivals. There is a now very famous photograph of Tikkanen as a five-year-old mascot skating down the ice in a Jokerit jersey before the start of a game. Jokerit has the biggest hockey budget in Finland, so it was no surprise that they snapped him up when he decided that the deal for his return to the club where he had his biggest success and his best memories the Edmonton Oilers wasn't attractive enough.
During his career, Tikkanen has played all three forward positions, but he was predominantly a winger before his role-switching also made him a center. Tikkanen has amassed 630 points in his NHL career, many of them earned on the offense, where he wasn't supposed to be playing. This total places him third among the all-time best Finns in the league. In Edmonton, where he played in four Stanley Cup wins, he's been the most valuable Finn after Jari Kurri. The Oilers drafted Tikkanen in 1983 in the fourth round and he joined the team for the 1985 playoffs straight from the World Championship tournament in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
Two years later, when the Oilers were looking for a third man to round out the team's first line, he got the opportunity to play alongside Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. The three seasons between 1986 and 1989, when he occupied left wing on the line with his famous teammates, were his most productive in the NHL, earning him 78, 74 and 78 points respectively.
With the departure of Gretzky from the Oilers, Tikkanen's role became even more important. In 1990, when the Alberta team captured the Cup a fourth time, their first without the illustrious number 99, Tikkanen had a truly great series with 24 points in 22 playoff games.
The next stage of his NHL career was with the New York Rangers. It started out in a rather dramatic fashion, with Tikkanen playing against the Edmonton Oilers. His old club had traded him only four hours earlier on March 17, 1993, in a swap for American center Doug Weight. In the Big Apple, Tikkanen was again in the right place at the right time, helping the Rangers end their 54-year Stanley Cup drought.
After New York came the journeyman stage of his career when he moved from one NHL city to another. The first stop was St. Louis. The following season, 1995-96, he started out in St. Louis but was traded twice, first to the New Jersey Devils and then to the Vancouver Canucks. The next year Vancouver sent him back to the Rangers and then followed a season split between the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals. With the Capitals, he came close to yet another team victory when they won the conference title and went into the playoff finals with high hopes, only to be thwarted by the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings. For his last campaign in the NHL, he went back to the New York Rangers for a third stint, but trouble with his knees prevented him from giving his usual stellar performance.
Tikkanen embraced the new millennium in style. In the 1999-2000 season, he returned to his first love, Jokerit Helsinki.

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