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Saturday February 27, 2010 10:25 pm

Nieuwendyk’s hockey career in a nutshell

Joe NieuwendykIf you were asked to name the greatest players of all-time, would Joe Nieuwendyk make your list? He’s one of those players who played exactly at the right time in his era, and could carry a team if needed, but rarely did he need to. He was born and raised in the Durham Region just east of Toronto. Nieuwendyk was one of the best lacrosse players in his country before he turned his attention to the ice. He has enjoyed success at every level of the game, from NHL to internationally to the front office.

He is a three-time Stanley Cup winner. His first came in 1989 with the Flames. He won again a decade later with Dallas, and again in 2003 in New Jersey. He was a four-time All-Star, won the Calder Trophy in 1988 after being one of four rookies at the time to score more than 50 goals in their rookie season (he scored 51). He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1999 and Olympic gold with team Canada in Salt Lake in 2002.

Nieuwendyk caused problems for many people, both with his scoring touch and the spelling of his last name. He broke into the league after being drafted 27th overall by the Flames in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He played over two decades with five different clubs, finishing with Florida in 2007. Nieuwendyk scored 564 goals and 562 assists for 1,126 points in 1,257 regular season games, adding 66 goals and 116 points in 158 playoff games.

Nieuwendyk hung up the skates in 2006 due to back problems. He finished tied for 48th place on the all-time points list. He served as special assistant to the GM in Toronto, then accepted a position as Dallas’ GM in July 2009. Nieuwendyk will always be remembered as a guy who gave his all to the game. His aggressive net play and team-first attitude caused him his health problems, but it certainly paid off throughout his career. He is a role model to kids and one of the best examples of what can happen when you play the game hard and you play the game right.

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