Tonight in Toronto, Dino Ciccarelli will enter the Hockey Hall of Fame as this year's lone male player entry, a tribute to his 608 career goals and tireless work ethic which were appreciated by fans in many NHL cities throughout the 80's and 90's. Yes, there was that nasty stick to the head of Luke Richardson, and there were some ugly battles with coaches and general managers, but Dino was a pure goal scorer, driven by an (insane?) hunger to put the puck in the net.
In many ways, he seems a perfect role model for Nashville's Patric Hornqvist. Both are noted "garbage goal" scorers, used to working down close to the net for tips and rebound opportunities, while facing the wrath of defensemen much larger than them. Bereft of blinding speed or dazzling puck-handling skills, they ply their trade with the tools of determination, self-control, and deft hand-eye coordination to jump on scoring chances which flash by in the blink of an eye.
The Preds return to Bridgestone Arena Saturday against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, so take advantage of the OtF discount and save money on Nashville Predators tickets for this, or any other home game.
Both defied the odds on their way to NHL success, too. Ciccarelli went undrafted after a broken leg disrupted his junior hockey career, while Hornqvist was the very last player selected in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The same single-mindedness which allows them to focus on the puck during a mad goalmouth scramble also served to keep them moving forward, however, ignoring those outside assessments.
While we here in Nashville often talk about all the face washes that "Horn Dog" receives after almost every stoppage in play, and wonder why his teammates don't stick up for him more aggressively, I'll just say that the action in front of the net has toned down quite a bit in the last 15 years:
Can you imagine something like that taking place in today's NHL?
For more on Dino, head over to Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends profile of your newest Hall of Famer. Back when I wrote about the prospects for Hornqvist perhaps scoring 50 goals in a season one day, some doubted that a player of his style could ever snag that many goals, or survive the battles in front of the net long enough to do so. Dino Ciccarelli's career stands as evidence that it is indeed possible.
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