With lockout hangover still in full effect, I figured it’s a good day for a “did you know” type of post. Below are all of the current NHL players who grew up in the Metropolitan Area. Like most of us fans, these guys started playing hockey as kids and worked their way up through the high school and local junior ranks before heading off to top-tier junior leagues, college and beyond.
Here is a breakdown by team:
Anaheim Ducks – Kyle Palmieri who grew up a Rangers fan in Montvale, NJ, cracked the Ducks lineup last year after dominating the AHL. The 21-year-old got his start in organized hockey at Sport-O-Rama in Rockland County, N.Y. and later played for the Devils’ under-16 junior team. Palmieri attended St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, where he led the team to the Non-Public State championship game as a sophomore. After that, he moved on to the U.S. National Team Development Program and later played for the Fighting Irish.
Dallas Stars – Eric Nystrom, a 6 year veteran forward, grew up in Syosset and attended Portledge School. He played for the New York Apple Core, a local tier III junior team based in Long Beach that competes in the EJHL. After a stint with the NYAC he left for the U.S. National Program and later played for the University of Michigan. Eric is the son of former NHLer Bob Nystrom who helped bring the Islanders their first Stanley Cup in 1980.
Florida Panthers – Everyone knows that 6’5 George Parros is one of the most feared fighters in the league. What most people forget is that Parros grew up in Randolph, NJ and played for Delbarton, a prep school in Morristown, NJ before joining the North American Hockey League. The NAHL is the U.S.’s tier II junior league. Parros attended Princeton and wrote his senior thesis on the West Coast longshoremen’s labor dispute. Who says fighters are all barbarians?
Los Angeles Kings – Rob Scuderi, a 8 year veteran and two-time Stanley Cup Champion, was a key defensive defensemen for the Penguins and Los Angeles Kings. He grew up in Bethpage and played for St. Anthony’s in South Huntington. Scuderi later played for the NY Apple Core before departing for Boston College.
St. Louis Blues – Drafted 14th overall in 2007, Kevin Shattenkirk has quickly moved up the ranks in the NHL thanks to his speed and a deceptive shot. Kevin grew up in New Rochelle, NY and played for Brunswick prep school in Greenwich before joining the U.S. National Program. Kevin came up in the Devils youth program and later was a cornerstone for Boston University.
Toronto Maple Leafs – James Van Riemsdyk grew up in Brick, NJ and was a huge Rangers fan. He went to Christian Brothers Academy in Lindcroft before transferring to the U.S. National Program. He later played for University of New Hampshire. Van Riemsdyk, a left wing, came up with the Flyers before being traded to Toronto last season.
Mike Komisarek, another veteran on defense, grew up in West Islip on Long Island. He played for St. Anthony’s in South Huntington for two years, followed by a stint with Suffolk PAL and the New England Jr. Coyotes (EJHL) before joining the U.S. National Program. After playing for the national team he went on to the University of Michigan.
Vancouver Canucks – Rangers fans know the Chris Higgins story well. His father is a Brooklyn fireman, his brother a Manhattan cop. When he came to play for the Rangers after spending his first four seasons with Montreal, many were proud to see a local boy with such blue-collar beginnings wear the Rangers uniform. Unfortunately the fairy tale lasted only 55 games. He missed a lot of time due to injury in 2008-09 and never really seemed to bounce back. Higgins grew up in Smithtown on Long Island. He played for Avon Old Farms, the same prep school Brian Leetch attended. After high school he played for Yale.
Washington Capitals – The highly touted John Carlson grew up in Colonia, NJ. He played tier III junior hockey for the New Jersey Rockets (AJHL) before joining the United States Hockey League (tier I). He later transferred to the OHL in Canada. At 22 years old, Carlson is currently in his second is a key piece to the future of the Capital’s blueline.
I also want to give honorable mention to Connecticut’s finest: Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens (New Canaan), Ryan Shannon of the Lightning (Darien) and Jonathan Quick of the LA Kings (Milford). Overall it’s a pretty impressive batch of guys. There are also several young prospects from the area who are a year or so away from the NHL. Maybe the NHL’s next star is just a door down from you.