Thursday, July 24, 2008

Czerkawski hangs 'em up

One of the greatest players in the history of Polish ice hockey, Mariusz Czerkawski, has decided to retire.

The 36-year-old Czerkawski played in the NHL for over a dozen years. He started in the Boston Bruins in 1994 and played also for the Edmonton Oilers, the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Lowetide already had a nice post today on the fellow known as the Polish Gretzky.

Only six Polish-born players have ever suited up in the NHL, and Czerkawski's 435 career points are by far that country's best totals. Next in line are former Penguins winger Nick Harbaruk (120), current Avalanche winger Wojtek Wolski (104), journeyman defenceman John Miszuk (46) and long-time enforcer Krzysztof Oliwa (45).

Former Whalers goaltender Peter Sidorkiewicz is the only other Pole with NHL experience.

Wolski grew up outside of Toronto, so I'm not sure he counts. Only five Polish-born players have been drafted since 1991, which is when Czerkawski was taken in the fifth round by the Bruins.

UPDATE Too tied up to post much today, but I'll be on The Team 1260 at 5:50 p.m. on Friday.


At 2:42 p.m., July 24, 2008, Anonymous Alec said...

Czerkawski was one of those "if only..." guys.

If only he came through 5 years earlier and got to play in the new NHL in his prime.

If only Boston had some decent wingers to put him with on a 2nd line when he started out

If only he knew what his own team's end of the rink looked like.

Oliwa, on the other hand... I saw him his rookie year in Albany and he couldn't skate, couldn't fight, could barely hold a stick properly and spent more games in street clothes than on the ice, but by gum the Devils turned him into a servicable NHLer.

That he got an NHL pension is a testament to the Devs development system back in 92-99.

At 2:52 p.m., July 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Detroit 2nd round pick Tomek Valtonen was born in Poland and lived there for four or five years before moving to Finland.

But as far as being Polish he is at least at Wolski's level. How Polish are you? Hmm.

Valtonen never played in NHL and might be retired.

At 2:59 p.m., July 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Czerkawski didn't handle his divorce from Bond girl ______ very well. Totally understandable that divorce affects your life in a big way but for him it really showed in his game, too.

His skills were very similiar to Pavel Datsyuk when you talk about hands, skating and shooting. Selke Trophy winner he wasn't. Most likely met his D and goalie only in dressing room.

At 3:15 p.m., July 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll fondly recall all 5 goals he scored during his illustrious tenure with the Montreal Canadiens.

At 3:24 p.m., July 24, 2008, Blogger ddawwidd said...

I wouldn't exactly say it was his divorce that cut his wings. He's a very nice person and a great "face" of Polish hockey, but very often he is more of a "face" than a player. Sometimes it was good, cause here in Poland, where hockey doesn't get any prime coverage, he was the only well-known player. But as his career developed, it became his biggest problem. He loves TV, loves being in the spotlight and when he got all this hype without really doing his best in the NHL, he was totally satisfied with that.

I saw him play three times - he was at his best in 2000. He had just ended his career year with the Islanders and he came home to star at the World Group B Champs. For me then, his passing and stickhandling was beyond imagination.

I completely agree with alec - he is such a "if only..." guy. If only he put a little more effort on ice, he could have had a fantastic career. What a shame that Oliwa (whose skills are none comparing to Czerkawski) is the only Polish player with a Stanley Cup. Thinking of level of hockey in Poland - we're in for a loooooong wait before the next Polish NHLer even appears.

Aside from all his talk-show or other tabloid appearances, there is no-one in Poland who could play his role of an ambassador of hockey in this country. We should borrow one or two from Czechs or Swedes ;)

At 3:28 p.m., July 24, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I knew there'd be some Polish hockey fans stopping by. Thanks for the input Dawid.

At 4:19 p.m., July 24, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) He was one of the nicer people you'd want to meet off the ice. He always had time for fans/was gracious. Good Luck Mariusz!


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