NHL Hockey: Paul Kariya
POB: Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Height: 5-10 Weight: 185lbs
NHL Seasons: 15
Drafted by Anaheim in 1993 (1/4).
The Dynamic Duck
Paul Kariya was a player that broke the mold for his generation of NHL hockey players – small, fast, skilled, durable and in the end very successful in his craft. He played in the NHL for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues during a 15 career.
Paul Kariya was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on October 16th, 1974. Kariya quickly made a name for himself in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League with the Penticton Panthers. In 1990-91 Kariya burst onto the scene scoring 45 goals and recording 112 points on his way to winning the Vern Dye Trophy for Most Valuable Player in the Interior Conference and the Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy as the BCJHL Rookie of the year. In his second year Kariya scored 46 goals and 132 points on his way to his second straight Vern Dye Trophy and being named Canadian Junior Player of the Year.
BCHL Insider and NWSB Writer Josh Hall notes that Paul Kariya was recently named BCHL Player of the Decade for the 1990’s.
After two successful seasons in the BCJHL Kariya was scouted and offered scholarships by no less than six US colleges and was courted by countless WHL teams. He would settle on the Maine Black Bears where he would start the 1992-93 season. In his first year with the Black Bears, he scored an NCAA record 100 points (25 goals and 75 assists) over 39 games.
As Hockey East’s Rookie and Player of the Year, he received Hockey East First All-Star Team honours and he won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player, becoming the first freshman in history to earn the distinction – not too shabby at all. That year, Kariya helped his team win the NCAA Title as well as the Lamoriello Trophy as Hockey East’s champion.
After his historic first year with Maine, Kariya was drafted fourth overall by the Anaheim Ducks and was at the time the second highest pick ever from Vancouver. He would hone his craft in college for three more years as well as joining Canada’s National team that participated in the 1994 Olympics. Five years after his tenure with the Black Bears, Kariya was selected for induction into the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame.
The ceremony was held on October 15, 1999, at Wells Conference Center on the university’s Orono campus. Two years later, in July 2001, Kariya’s number 9 was retired by the Black Bears.
Off to the Pros Kariya went where he agreed to a three-year, $6.5 million deal on August 31, 1994. He would not see action until January 1995 due to a labor dispute with the players and owners in the NHL. Playing in 47 games, Kariya finished the season with a team-leading 18 goals and 39 points.
Kariya would finish second in Rookie of the Year balloting to Peter Forsberg but he was named to the All-Rookie Team that year.
In his second season with Anaheim, his career and the team`s fortunes would start to change – Teemu Selanne was acquired by the team and the duo of Kariya and Selanne became one of the most feared lines in the game for years to come.
Kariya achieved the 100-point single-season mark with a goal and three assists in a 5–3 win against the San Jose Sharks on April 7, 1996. A week later, he became the 14th-youngest NHL player to register 50 goals in one season.
He finished the season with 50 goals and 58 assists for 108 points, tying him with Selanne for seventh overall in league scoring. Kariya went on to win the Lady Byng Trophy that season to add onto his impressive accolades.
In 2006-07, Kariya became captain of the Ducks in what would be an injury plagued season. Abdominal issues and a concussion sustained at the hands of Mathieu Schneider of the Toronto Maple Leafs shortened his season but he still made the NHL All-Star team and did finish with 44 goals and 55 assists.
He won the Lady Byng again and was second in voting for the MVP of the league to Dominik Hasek that year, helping the Mighty Ducks to their first playoff appearance.
The rest of Kariya`s tenure in Anaheim was productive when playing, but concussion issues resurfaced in 1998.
From February 1st until May, Kariya was on the sidelines dealing with post-concussion symptoms. The 1998-99 season saw Kariya return to full form. He had a Ducks record 17 game point scoring streak and finished with 39 goals and 62 assists. In the playoffs that year, Kariya broke his foot blocking a shot ending what was another productive season.
The 1999-2000 season brought a lucrative contract and more solid production from Kariya – 42 goals but just 82 points.
Kariya was dealt a blow before the 2001-02 season – Teemu Selanne was traded and Paul`s production slipped. The next year, Kariya played through pain and took his team to the Cup Final only to lose in seven games to the New Jersey Devils. After the 2002-03 season, Kariya was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
He left Anaheim as the team’s all-time leader in games played (606), goals (300), assists (369), points (669), shorthanded goals (16) and shots (2,455). His seven seasons as team captain also set a Ducks record. After Selanne returned to the Ducks in 2005, Kariya’s marks in games played, goals, assists and points were all broken.
Kariya was reunited with Teemu Selanne in Colorado for what was a disappointing and injury plagued season. He played 51 games with the Avalanche, scored 11 goals and added 25 assists before moving to the Nashville Predators where he would play two seasons and play a full complement of games scoring 55 goals and adding 106 assists during his tenure.
Then it was off to the St. Louis Blues where Kariya would play three seasons and finish out his career. He played two full seasons and in his second year with the Blues was limited to just 18 games.
With St. Louis, Kariya scored 36 goals and add 114 assists.
On June 29th, 2001, post-concussion symptoms led to Kariya`s decision to retire from the NHL. He finished with 989 games played, 402 goals and 587 assists.
During Paul Kariya`s career he suited up for Canada on numerous occasions winning a Gold Medal at the 1993 World Junior Championships a Gold at the 1994 World Championships and a Silver at the 1996 World Championship. He also won Olympic Silver with Canada in the 1994 Olympics and Gold in Salt Lake City in 2002.
In 24 games over 3 World Championships, Paul recorded 28 points including 11 goals. Until Friday, May 4th, 2012, Kariya was the last un-drafted player to play for Team Canada at the WHC.
Paul Kariya paved the way for “little guys” in the NHL. His size, unfortunately, was what led to his career being cut short!