Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where Are They Now: Olympic Edition

ziggy palffy europe
One of the more interesting parts of the Olympic hockey tournament is seeing a bunch of old NHLers playing back on North American ice. Really my interest in this all stemmed from seeing Ziggy Palffy back in action. I mean anyone named Ziggy is interesting, right? I just had to know where some of these players ended up. Sure, there are the big names like Jagr and Forsberg who the media talks about relentlessly, but what about some of the less heralded players? Where are they? I haven't heard Ziggy Palffy's name in 5 years. Maybe he's a Slovakian movie star.

Looking up all this information also brought me to the realization that there are a ton of ex-NHLers scattered around the world still focused on living their hockey dreams and doing very well for themselves (just not NHL well). Maybe it’s my West-centric view of the world, but after anyone leaves the NHL I just assume they’re achieving mediocrity. My bad.

I’ll save that post for another day, but it will certainly involve Mikael Tellqvist, who according to Wikipedia was traded from the KHL to the Swedish Elite League. Is that possible? If so, it’s pretty cool.

Anyways, here are some former NHLers you will see during the Olympic tournament and where they are playing these days.

Jaromir Jagr – Czech Republic

We touched briefly on Jagr’s post-NHL career a few days ago, but it bears repeating that Jagr signed a 2-year deal with Avangard Omsk in 2008 for a reported $10 million after being informed by the New York Rangers that he was no longer in their plans. He scored 53 points in 55 games last season, while potting 9 in 9 playoff games, and currently has 42 points in 49 games this year for his fourth placed squad. The mullet is long gone, but thankfully that weird vertical beard is gone too. He's also rocking a Euro-style Gretzky helmet in the KHL. Way to go Jags, it's not like helmet technology has improved that much since the 1980s, right?

Peter Forsberg - Sweden

Forsberg last played in the NHL in 2007-2008 for the Colorado Avalanche for a measly 9 games at the end of the season. However, he did score 14 points in those games, showing that he still has the magic touch in his hands. Last year he briefly played for three games with MODO in the Swedish Elite League before being forced to stop due to injuries. This year he’s played in 17 games and has 20 points, despite being limited by injuries (of course). Best of all, he and teammate Markus Naslund are playing for free as a way of giving back to MODO, the team that launched both their careers.

Sergei Fedorov – Russia

Fedorov signed with Metallurg Magnitogorsk (super metal name) of the KHL after finishing the last two seasons with the Washington Capitals. His deal was for 2 years and reportedly worth $3.8 million per year. It’s highly unlikely Fedorov could achieve the same amount of money by staying in the NHL, but he said his main reason for joining the KHL was to fulfil his father’s dream of having his two sons play on the same hockey team. That’s nice. Fedorov is the fourth leading scorer on the league’s third place team (second in their conference) with 28 points in 49 games. Not spectacular, but we’ll give Sergei the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s a great leader on the team. Taking out the young players to seedy Russian strip joints; helping the youth make their first connections with mobsters.

Ziggy Palffy - Slovakia

Ziggy signed with the Penguins for 3 years after the lockout, but abruptly retired after collecting 42 points in 42 games. It was a bizarre retirement since Ziggy was still playing at such a high level, but it was suggested that a lingering shoulder injury was the cause. Ziggy scored 713 points in 684 career NHL games. He stayed retired until 2007 when he announced a comeback and signed with his hometown club of HK 36 Skalica in the Slovak Extraliga. All he’s done since then is absolutely terrorize the league. In 2007-2008 he scored 30 goals and 75 points in only 46 games. Then last year he scored an astounding 52 goals and 99 points in 53 games. Ziggy is clearly the best player in the league, to the point where Andrej Cicman, a staff writer for, described the league as Ziggy’s playground.

Richard Zednik – Slovakia

At this point Zednik is probably best remembered for surviving a horrifying incident where his neck was viciously cut by an errant skate two years ago. He’s also fondly remembered around my house for taking a cheap-shot elbow to the face from Boston’s Kyle McLaren while playing for the Montreal Canadiens in the 2002 playoffs. (note: I just re-watched that clip and the fact that no Canadiens player fights McLaren is a microcosm of the past 15 years of Habs hockey). Zednik is now playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL and has tallied a mediocre 18 points in 35 games. He does have 54 penalty minutes, which I thought was a lot until I saw Darsy Verot has 347 minutes in 33 games (much more than double the next closest player). He doesn’t even look that crazy! He must be insane.

Martin Gerber – Switzerland

The Swiss netminder was banished from the NHL last season after taking over the vacant Leafs crease for the remaining 12 games in 2009. He signed with Atlant Moscow of the KHL (Ray Emery's former team) and has very respectable numbers (.914% and 2.19 GAA), but has been limited to 30 games this year after fracturing his fourth vertebrae in December after a forward slid into him. So, technically I’m cheating with this inclusion since he isn’t actually playing in Vancouver, but I just wanted to segue into letting you know that Robert Esche is killing the KHL this year with 27 wins and a 1.99 GAA.


Theodore said...

Where's Aki Berg?? Don't hold out on the big guns, Roy!!

Matt Horner said...

I excluded Aki because he isn't actually playing in the Olympics, but here are his stats because that bastard is still playing hockey.

He's been playing for TPS in the Finnish league for the past 3 years. 43 points in 111 games. He's even the captain! Not too shabby

Let it be known that Aki Berg is currently my least favourite Leafs player of all-time.

icyhotintheslot said...

I read that Jagr might be coming back to the NHL because the KHL is too poor to pay anyone $10 million anymore... and that his skills were Samson-esque, completely dependent on the mullet.

Tom said...

icyhotintheslot - I think Jagr may have changed his mind after the last couple games of the Olympics - AHL might be more appropriate.

Matt Horner said...

It was funny how all the analysts were saying how Jagr is looking great out there and then once he got destroyed by Ovechkin they started saying that maybe he is a little too old and slow.

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