Leaf of the Day - Mar 4, 2009 - Mike Gartner

Mar 4, 2009 - Mike Gartner


I've complained enough over the past little while of trades that shouldn't have been made.  This is a deadline deal that I think wasn't too bad.  Gartner came over at deadline 1994 from the Rangers in exchange for Glenn Anderson.  Garts wasn't quite the game-breaker Anderson could be when he was on, but he also wasn't the type to take a brain-dead boarding penalty heading into OT in a game the Leafs had just tied, when they were just a goal away from the Stanley Cup Final. 

Unfortunately for Mike, he left the Rangers at precisely the wrong moment and came to the Leafs right before they started to slip.  Timing is everything.

Gartner was a deadline deal three different times in his career.  The first time, he went to Minnesota (the REAL Minnesota team, not this Wild nonsense) with Larry Murphy for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse.  A year later, he went to the Rangers in a deal for Ulf Dahlen.

The thing you always remember with Gartner was the speed.  Even when he lost a stride later on, he was still faster than anyone else out there.  Good shot, too.  Those two things helped him score 30-plus goals seventeen times in his career, including 15 years in a row.  Unbelieveable.

His biggest Leaf moment was a 1994 OT goal against San Jose.  Chipped one over Irbe from the side of the net.  Not really pretty, but it counted.

Mike's stats:

1974-75 Barrie Co-Op Minor-ON
1974-75 Mississauga Reps MTHL
1975-76 Toronto Young Nationals MTHL 26 18 18 36 46
1975-76 St. Catharines Black Hawks OMJHL 3 1 3 4 0 4 1 0 1 2
1976-77 Niagara Falls Flyers OMJHL 62 33 42 75 125
1977-78 Niagara Falls Flyers OMJHL 64 41 49 90 56
1977-78 Canada WJC-A 6 3 3 6 4
1978-79 Cincinnati Stingers WHA 78 27 25 52 123 3 0 2 2 2
1979-80 Washington Capitals NHL 77 36 32 68 66 +15
1980-81 Washington Capitals NHL 80 48 46 94 100 -5
1980-81 Canada WEC-A 8 4 0 4 8
1981-82 Washington Capitals DN-Cup 4 0 2 2
1981-82 Washington Capitals NHL 80 35 45 80 121 -11
1981-82 Canada WEC-A 10 3 2 5 6
1982-83 Washington Capitals NHL 73 38 38 76 54 -2 4 0 0 0 4
1982-83 Canada WEC-A 10 4 1 5 12
1983-84 Washington Capitals NHL 80 40 45 85 90 +22 8 3 7 10 16
1984-85 Canada Can-Cup 8 3 2 5 10
1984-85 Washington Capitals NHL 80 50 52 102 71 +17 5 4 3 7 9
1985-86 Washington Capitals NHL 74 35 40 75 63 -5 9 2 10 12 4
1986-87 Washington Capitals NHL 78 41 32 73 61 +1 7 4 3 7 14
1987-88 Canada Can-Cup 9 2 2 4 6
1987-88 Washington Capitals NHL 80 48 33 81 73 +20 14 3 4 7 14
1988-89 Washington Capitals NHL 56 26 29 55 71 +8
1988-89 Minnesota North Stars NHL 13 7 7 14 2 +3 5 0 0 0 6
1989-90 Minnesota North Stars NHL 67 34 36 70 32 -8
1989-90 New York Rangers NHL 12 11 5 16 6 +4 10 5 3 8 12
1990-91 New York Rangers NHL 79 49 20 69 53 -9 6 1 1 2 0
1991-92 New York Rangers NHL 76 40 41 81 55 +11 13 8 8 16 4
1992-93 New York Rangers NHL 84 45 23 68 59 -4
1992-93 Canada WC-A 7 3 4 7 12
1993-94 New York Rangers NHL 71 28 24 52 58 +11
1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 10 6 6 12 4 +9 18 5 6 11 14
1994-95 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 38 12 8 20 6 0 5 2 2 4 2
1995-96 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 82 35 19 54 52 +5 6 4 1 5 4
1996-97 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 82 32 31 63 38 -11 7 1 2 3 4
1997-98 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 60 12 15 27 24 -4 5 1 0 1 18
Leaf Totals   130 53 33 86 62 +14 29 11 9 20 20
NHL Totals 1432 708 627 1335 1159 +67 122 43 50 93 125

OHA First All-Star Team (1978)

- Signed as a underage free agent by Birmingham (WHA), May, 1978.
- Traded to Minnesota by Washington with Larry Murphy for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse, March 7, 1989.
- Traded to NY Rangers by Minnesota for Ulf Dahlen, Los Angeles' 4th round choice (previously acquired, Minnesota selected Cal McGowan) in 1990 Entry Draft, March 6, 1990.
- Traded to Toronto by NY Rangers for Glenn Anderson, the rights to Scott Malone and Toronto's 4th round choice (Alexander Korobolin) in 1994 Entry Draft, March 21, 1994.
- Traded to Phoenix by Toronto for Chicago's 4th round choice (previously acquired, Toronto selected Vladimir Antipov) in 1996 Entry Draft, June 22, 1996.

the HHOF take on Mike:

Always one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, Michael Alfred Gartner used his blazing speed and a hard, accurate shot to become one of the most consistent scorer's in league history, most of his 19 seasons of which were spent outside hockey's limelight.

Mike Gartner was born on October 29, 1959 in Canada's capital city, Ottawa, Ontario. However, it was at a very young age when his father, Alf, moved the family to Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto. It was here, at the Dixie Arena, where Mike learned to skate. Throughout his minor hockey years with the Mississauga Reps organization, he came under the tutelage of coaches who understood the value of learning the basics, and it was here that Mike developed his skating. He played midget in Barrie as a member of the Co-Op's, capturing the Canadian National Wrigley Midget Championship and gaining his first international experience at age 15 during an exhibition tour in Moscow.

The following season Gartner was back in Toronto joining the Tier II, Junior 'A' Young Nationals squad. It was with the Nats that he realized his potential for making a living out of the sport he loved. After a single season of Tier II hockey, Gartner was on to Niagara Falls for two seasons of major junior with the Flyers in the OHA. Despite playing for a losing club, Gartner recorded 74 goals and 165 points in both seasons and was named to the First All-Star Team. He was also chosen to represent Canada at the 1978 World Junior championships, scoring six points during a bronze medal finish.

Ready to turn pro, but at 18 underage for the NHL, Gartner was wooed by the WHA's Cincinnati Stingers. He signed a four-year contract, beginning with the 1978-79 season. Proving the critics wrong, the speedy right-winger recorded 52 points and was runner-up to Wayne Gretzky for Rookie-of-the-Year honours. Following the season's conclusion, the WHA and NHL merged and Gartner's ultimate dream became reality.

Gartner was drafted 4th overall during the 1979 Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. He made an instant impact on his new club, leading the team in both goals (36) and points (68). Over the next eight seasons, Gartner never scored fewer than 35 goals, hitting the magical 50-goal mark during the 1984-85 season. He led the Capitals in scoring on four occasions, and prior to his trade to Minnesota in 1989 he had tied or set 12 team records including career goals (397) and points (789), all of which he accomplished on a team that missed the playoffs three times and bowed out in the first round three other times.

The poor playoff performances by the Capitals enabled Gartner to become an experienced member of Canada's National Team. Always answering the call when asked, Gartner suited up for the 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1993 World Championship squads. Additionally, he was named to the Canada Cup clubs in 1984 and 1987, narrowly missing a third tournament as the final cut in 1981. Combined with his World Junior bronze medal, Gartner won two gold and three bronze medals in international competition, scoring a total of 19 goals and 29 points.

After two short half-season stints with the North Stars, Gartner was traded to the New York Rangers in March 1990 where over the next three seasons he continued his goal scoring consistency with totals of 49, 40 and 45. He had now recorded 30-or-more goals in 14 consecutive seasons, a new NHL mark. During his stint in the Big Apple, Gartner became just the 16th player to reach the 500-goal mark, 6th to reach 600 goals and 33rd player to hit the 1,000-point milestone.

Prior to the 1994 trade deadline, Gartner was dealt to his boyhood home, Toronto. Continuing his record-setting streak with a 34-goal season, he was again disappointed as the Maple Leafs were ousted in the Stanley Cup semi-finals. Playing two more seasons for the Maple Leafs, Gartner was named as a Commissioner's Selection to the 1996 All-Star Game team. This marked his seventh and final appearance, which included an MVP performance of four goals and an assist in 1993. It was during the annual Skill's Competition, however, that he excelled. Gartner captured the "Fastest Skater Competition" each of the three years he entered, including 1996, at age 36. During the 1985-86 season, Gartner once said, "I have a God-given ability to skate. I haven't really worked on my legs at all during my career." He continued to prove his ability until his retirement in 1998.

During the 1996 off-season, Gartner was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes where he finished his career two seasons later. In 1997-98, he became just the fifth player to reach the 700-goal plateau, a remarkable feat for perhaps the most consistent and unnoticed scorer the game has ever seen. Along with his consecutive 30-or-more goal seasons record of 15 straight years (a streak broken only by the labour troubles in 1994-95), Gartner also holds the NHL record for most 30-or-more goal seasons in a career with 17. He finished second all-time in goals for a right-winger and 5th overall (708), 5th all-time in assists by a right-winger (627), 4th all-time in points by a right-winger (1,335) and 7th on the all-time games played list (1,335).

Gartner was respected on ice and off. A devoted Christian, he spent countless hours at youth hockey camps and prepared himself for life after hockey, serving as a key member of the National Hockey League Players' Association Negotiating Committee during both labour disputes in the 1990's and as NHLPA President during the latter part of the decade. Following his retirement on August 26, 1998, he decided to spend his time in the Toronto area, coaching and working with the NHLPA's Goals & Dreams Foundation, a testament to his abilities as a communicator and educator in both hockey and life.


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