Thread: ATD #9, Part 3
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04-02-2008, 04:00 PM
Snubbed Again
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Defenseman - Alexei Kasatonov

From Legends of Hockey:
Defenseman Alexei Kasatonov was one of the top blue liners in Russia throughout the 1980's. IN 1981, when the Russians won the Canada Cup, Kasatonov was named to the tournament All-Star Team. That year he also was named a Russian All-Star a feat he would repeat in each of the next seven seasons. In that stretch he also participated in three Olympic tournaments and won two gold's and a silver, won five World Championships and 11 National Titles in the Soviet Union. Throughout this time he was paired with Russian legend Slava Fetisov and many hockey observers considered them to be the best defensive pair outside of the NHL.

When Russian players were finally allowed to play in the National Hockey League Kasatonov, by this time 30 years old, made the leap. He went to New Jersey to join the Devils, and had an immediate comfort level because Fetisov also joined the club at the same time. In 1990-91, Kasatonov posted a career-best 41 points for the Devils then followed it up the next year by scoring 12 goals, also a best, and 40 points. However when he slipped to just 17 points the following year the Devils felt that perhaps the veteran had begun to fade. That summer they left Kasatonov available in the league expansion draft and he was a no-brainer pick for the new Anaheim franchise.

In Anaheim he joined the Mighty Ducks and lent the team great leadership while chipping in 22 points in 55 games. While his first season in California drew to a close many clubs in search of an upgrade on their defense for the playoffs began to contact the Ducks. With Kasatonov's contract due to expire and the Ducks well out of the playoffs, a trade made sense. At the deadline Anaheim traded Kasatonov to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Maxim Bets and a draft pick.

Kasatonov played the final eight games of the 1993-94 season with the Blues and managed two assists. Despite scoring two goals in the playoffs for St. Louis, he couldn't avoid the club's early exit in four straight games.

As a free agent that summer Kasatonov was free to chose whatever team he wanted and he elected to go to Boston. With the Bruins he teamed with Canadian defensive legend Ray Bourque but after playing the lock out year with Boston his play began to tail off. After scoring just one point in 19 games for the Bruins in 1995-96 he was assigned to the minors. Kasatonov played 16 games for Providence of the American Hockey League and chipped in nine points before deciding to return to his homeland.

The 1996-97 was spent with his former club team back in Russia, and while it was successful, it was also the final year of his illustrious playing career.

With his playing days behind him, Kasatonov remained involved with the game by working with the Russian Hockey Federation. He served as the General Manager of the 1998 Olympic team that captured the silver medal in Nagano, Japan.

Kasatonov also received the great tribute of being named an "Honoured Master of Sport" in Russia.

USSR Statistics
GM: 567
G: 122
A: 148
P: 270

NHL RS Statistics
GM: 383
G: 38
A: 122
P: 160
PIM: 326

NHL Playoff Statistics
GM: 33
G: 4
A: 7
P: 11
PIM: 40

WJC-A All-Star Team (1979)
Named Best Defenseman at WJC-A (1979)
USSR First All-Star Team (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988)
Canada Cup All-Star Team (1981)
WEC-A All-Star Team (1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1991)
Named Best Defenseman at WEC-A (1983)
Played in NHL All-Star Game (1994)

Defenseman - Ching Johnson (1926-1938)

From Legends of Hockey:
Defenseman Ching Johnson matched his rugged defensive play with an ability to contribute inside the opposition's blue line. He was a valuable team leader and fan favorite throughout his 12-year NHL career.

During his playing days, Johnson was considered one of the hardest bodycheckers ever to play the game. More significantly, he perfected the technique of nullifying the opposition by clutching and grabbing them as discreetly as possible - a pragmatic defensive strategy for the wily but slow-footed rearguard.

As a teen, Johnson moved to Eveleth, Minnesota, where he spent three years on the blue line of the city's team in the United States Amateur Hockey Association. In 1923 Johnson moved on to the semiprofessional Minneapolis Millers, where he was paired on defense with Clarence "Taffy" Abel.

New York Rangers manager Conn Smythe purchased the services of both rearguards for the team's NHL debut in 1926-27. The burly Johnson spent 11 productive years with the Blueshirts and was part of the team's first two Stanley Cup triumphs in 1928 and 1933. Johnson and Abel's blanket defensive coverage was particularly evident during the 1928 finals against the Montreal Maroons, a low-scoring series in which the teams combined to score only 11 goals in five games.

Following the 1931-32 season, Johnson was runner-up to Canadiens superstar Howie Morenz in the voting for the Hart Trophy. The next year he and defense partner Earl Seibert aided the Rangers in their Stanley Cup victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Johnson played his hard-hitting game to perfection during the playoffs and scored the key first goal in the Blueshirts' 2-0 win over Detroit in game one of the semifinals. The Rangers sagged somewhat in the second match but held on for a 4-3 win. Johnson's supreme defensive work was considered to be the key factor in the club's not having to play a third and deciding contest. In the finals, the Rangers' speed was too much for the Maple Leafs. When Toronto did venture into New York territory, Johnson and Seibert controlled the play. Johnson would knock the Maple Leafs forwards off the puck, then send it over to his swifter partner to launch the next counterattack.

Ching Johnson was selected to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1932 and 1933 and he made the Second Team in 1931 and 1934. On February 14, 1934, Johnson took part in the landmark Ace Bailey Benefit Game to aid the former Maple Leaf star whose career was ended prematurely by a vicious Eddie Shore hit.

When the Rangers released Johnson after the 1936-37 season, the New York Americans jumped at the chance to offer him a contract. Amerks manager Red Dutton didn't share the Rangers' view that the veteran was too old and slow to be effective. Johnson accepted the new challenge and spent one year with his new team as a player and interim coach before retiring after 12 years and more than 400 NHL games.

His playing days weren't over, though. The rugged defender next skated for two years with the Minneapolis Millers of the American Hockey Association in the dual role of playing coach for two years. Johnson's last season in pro hockey was as coach of the Washington Lions of the Eastern Amateur League in 1940-41. He also tried his hand at officiating in Washington over the next two years.

Johnson accumulated 86 points in his 12 NHL seasons. But it was his physical play and his charismatic leadership that made him one of the most valuable rearguards of his time. Ching Johnson was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.

NHL Regular Season Statistics
GM: 436
G: 38
A: 48
P: 86
PIM: 808

NHL Playoff Statistics
GM: 61
G: 5
A: 2
P: 7
PIM: 161

Lord Stanley Cup (1928, 1933)
First All-Star Team Defense (1932, 1933)
Second All-Star Team Defense (1931, 1934)
“Honoured Member” of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Player in 1958


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