Fri Aug 28 04:21pm EDT
The retirement of Mike Sillinger(notes) this week ends one of the most peculiar and unintentionally hilarious careers in recent NHL history.
We're talking about a blue-collar center with underrated offense (he had 240 goals, 308 assists in 1,049 games) and a winning personality that thrived in this League for 17 seasons with 12 different teams; one whose journeyman status became the stuff of both legend and punchlines. Ryan Classic has a great breakdown of the many moves of Mike Sillinger.
OK, and also the stuff of scholarship: Two Degrees of Mike Sillinger remains one of the Internet's greatest contributions to hockey lore. In the words of St. Louis Game Time: "Mike Sillinger has out-Baconed Kevin Bacon."
Don't recall Sillinger's tenure with the St. Louis Blues? He actually played 64 games there, or 46 more than Wayne Gretzky did.
The 11 other teams Sillinger laced'em up with in the NHL, so you can finally win that bar bet: The Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators and New York Islanders. (Sillinger better watch out: Mathieu Schneider(notes) is now on team No. 9 after signing with the Canucks.)
What did Sillinger mean to the 12 NHL franchises touched by his greatness? We asked 12 hockey bloggers for their recollections of his impact, such as it was or was not.
Sillinger finished his last season with Detroit before I turned 10 and just a few months before this kid from a family completely disinterested in sports became aware of the Wings as his family's first fan. I literally have no memory of the guy as a Red Wing. The only (barely tangential) connection I have is that my first Wings hockey card was Slava Kozlov(notes) (Skybox) and, as everybody knows, Sillinger and Kozzie were drafted the same year. I barely even remember the main guy he was traded for, Stu Grimson.
I remember absolutely nothing about Sillinger except that he probably had very nice luggage. Not very helpful, eh.
Mike Sillinger was a Mighty Duck? Apparently he was traded away just a dozen or so games before the Ducks' first franchise playoff appearance -- if he contributed to that, then he's OK in my book.
Retirement or no, the name Mike Sillinger will still be evoked during the annual Flyers' lack-of-faceoff-wins crisis.
Mike Sillinger was a bright spot to some very dismal Lightning teams (1998-00) and great at faceoffs. Unfortunately, he was expendable in a rebuilding franchise.
One of eight teams he spent less than a full season with, the Panthers allowed Sillinger the honor of playing alongside Pavel Bure for a spell, boosting his power-play assist total (over 55 games in 2000-01) to 11, third best in his long career.
Other than that modest number, he completed a total of 68 games with the Cats, rounding out his Florida stint with 17g-25a-42p (-13). Acquired from Tampa Bay for Ryan Johnson(notes)(?) and Dwayne Hay(??), he was later dealt to Ottawa for future considerations.
Trivia Madness: He's one of a rapidly vanishing body of current NHLers to have dressed for Florida in a Panthers playoff series (99-00). Can't believe I just typed that.
Ahhh, Mike Sillinger we hardly knew ya! No seriously, as a Sens fan it's hard to remember your 13 games, 3 goals and 4 assists from the 2000-2001 season. Of course it's not your fault I'm just blocking out any memories from all seasons that ended in playoff elimination to the Leafs.
I don't remember much about his play -- can you blame me for being forgetful of those early years? -- but he was certainly well-liked. It was a group of characters guy like Sillinger that kept fans coming to games and you can always appreciate that.
Mike Sillinger represents the worst Blues team in recent memory, considering he ended the season as the team's leading goal scorer with 22 tallies in only 48 games played because he was traded. In essence, the Blues allowed Sillinger some great individual moments boosting his value which helped build his reputation as NHL vagabond, a perfect combination.
Mike Sillinger wasn't a Coyote for long. As a Coyote, he was appreciated for his good character in the locker room and talent in the faceoff circle. He was acquired by Phoenix in the summer of 2003... wait, was he anything for long? I think he can best be described as a player who experienced ALL that the NHL had to offer, in several different cities. After spending the better part of a season in the desert, Sillinger was dealt to the St. Louis Blues for goaltender Brent Johnson(notes)
The Sillinger Era in Nashville lasted just a few months in 2006, but his "regular guy working his butt off" style made a lasting impact. When the Islanders came to town last December with Sillinger on the shelf, he was recognized outside the media lounge by several fans, who stopped by to shake his hand and wish him the best. I doubt Dany Heatley(notes) will ever receive that treatment in Atlanta or (as seems likely) Ottawa.
Such a good player and funny as heck. The guy next door as NHL 1,000-game milestone man. About a year and a half ago, Springsteen played the Coliseum. Silli bought a suite. He heard I had tickets. He told me, "You and your buddy are in my suite," which was nice.
Then he put me to work. "You know the waitresses at the Coli, Botts. Please make sure the bar is stocked and there's plenty of food for all our guests. We're gonna make it nice for everyone." We. Uh-oh. Now I'm thinking this Springsteen show is going to get expensive.
He's running late for the show, calls me. "Did you get Grey Goose"? I said, "Silli, I gotta be honest with you. Everything is stocked, but I took it easy. I'm a PR guy." He says, "Are you friggin' nuts? You know what I'm making this year. I'm taking care of everything! I got it! Order another case of beer and get those sliders everyone likes. Get some good wine for yourself. Tell them me and my Master Card will be there in 15 minutes."
• • •
Finally, our own tribute to the Journeyman Himself, as Mike Sillinger exhibits Emmy-worth acting in a commercial with the Islanders Ice Girls.