Tired of all of the Free Agency Doomsday talk? Well, dust off your Steve Halko jersey and prepare to take a trip back in time with me. It’s too soon to tell if this season will be a memorable one, but the following list of players is sure to have you saying “Ohhhhhh, yeeeeahhh! I forgot he played here!!” Their time in Carolina may have been forgettable, but most of these players had prominent careers and are recognizable names in most hockey circles.
Sean Burke (’92-’98) – A Penske Player, Burke came along with the team when they moved from Hartford along with a virtual Goalie Harem including Trevor Kidd, Mike Fountain, and Pat Jablonksi. And you thought our goalie situation now was grim! Big shocker, Burke was the regular stater for our inaugural season at The Coliseum, but was traded mid season along with Geoff Sanderson to Vancouver for Martin Gelinas and Kirk McLean. He went on to have a long, successful career and eventually retired in 2007.
Stu Grimson (’96-’98) – In the Era of Tie Domi, Tony Twist and Bob Probert we had The Grim Reaper ( yes, you have to watch the whole 5 minutes, there will be a test). His time in Raleigh was short lived (1 year in Hartford prior) and went about as expected. A typical enforcer signing. He did notch 39 points in his two seasons with the team though and was a fan favorite, although he probably was everywhere he went……………OK, one more. It’s shorter, I promise 😉
Kevin Hatcher (’00-’01) – Hatcher had a distinguished career and was getting long in the tooth when arriving in Carolina and it showed in the 57 games that he played in what would be his last season in the league. The only thing that makes this signing even more deplorable is that JR also signed Sandis Ozolinsh (see below) in the same off season.
Andrei Kovalenko (’98-’00) – Remember when JR signed Russians? This was probably one of the reasons he stopped. Caniacs may remember him as the player who scored the first goal in The ESA ; aka RBC ; aka PNC. Aside from that though, he only had one semi-productive season in NC, and was gone the next season. He played one more season with Boston and then packed his bags for The Motherland where he played another 9 seasons. He is now Chairman of a KHL Players Association (are they allowed to have those over there?).
Curtis Leschyshyn (’96-’00) – Another Hartford transplant, Curtis had been on the slide when he came from Washington, but even then, JR liked reclamation projects. This one worked out with mixed results. He was a solid 2nd/3rd pair blue liner. He was eventually claimed by Minnesota in the expansion draft in ’00 and went on to have a 19 year career however, none were as successful as his early years in Quebec.
Kent Manderville (’96-’00) – This Cornell alum had a 14 year career and I’m sure we’re not the only fans that have forgotten about him. He played 3rd line minutes most of his career but he played them well. I guess that’s why he stuck around so long. In total he played in 646 regular season games, and had 104 points.
Kirk McLean (’97-’98) – What? You don’t remember the 8 games he played for us? Of course not! Captain Kirk was a beast in the early ’90’s, too bad we got him in the late ’90’s! He was best known for his help in getting the Canucks to the Cup Finals in ’94 against Messier’s Rangers. After leaving Carolina he played for the Panthers and the same Rangers that had bested him just a few years before. None of the seasons produced anything close to his numbers in Vancouver, and he retired in ’01.
Sandis Ozolinsh (’00-’02) – Caniacs were PUMPED when this deal was consummated, not so much as the season wore on. When the 5 year $25MM deal was announced JR was quoted as saying………actually sit down first………ready? “We’re willing to pay any player the fair market value and in this case we’re very fortunate to have a premier defenceman.” (You’re welcome. Comment section below. Have a field day!) Sandy never seemed to fill the “Premier Scoring Defenceman” role he played in Colorado, had a team worst -25, couldn’t play first line PP, and never made an effort to endear himself to the fans. That combination earned him a one way ticket to Sunrise, Florida halfway through his second season in the 919. JR eventually erased his mistake in what was one of the better trades in franchise history. In return for Ozo and Byron Ritchie we got Bret Hedican, Kevyn Adams, Tomas Malec and a draft pick.
Geoff Sanderson (’90-’98) – Originally drafted by the Whalers he made the trek south with the team 6 and a half years later. Apparently, he didn’t cope so well with humidity either because his production dropped significantly upon arrival and he was soon shipped to Vancouver (and then to Buffalo a couple weeks later). While in Buffalo he went to the Finals but eventually lost to the Stars ( HIS SKATE WAS IN THE CREASE!). He spent 16 years in the league and played with a blue collar mentality that fans always enjoyed. You may also not remember his cousin Wade Brookbank who also spent some time here.
Ray Sheppard (’97-’99) – “The Original Ray Ray” came to Carolina in a trade that sent Captain Kirk to the Panthers late in the season. He was an integral part of the offense that took Florida to the Finals in ’96. He performed admirably while in Raleigh, but he was let go after only one full season here. He later resigned with the Panthers for one last hoorah before retiring.
Soon to be on this list : Anthony Stewart, Stephane Yelle, Tomas Kaberle. Alright! Back to doom an gloom.