One of my favorite hockey cartoons depicts an image of Satan, the Dark Lord, sitting on his throne, surrounded by hellfire. Underneath the caption reads:
“IT’S ACTUALLY PRONOUNCED ‘shuh-THAN.’”
The Devil was the detail for Miroslav Satan, 39, who announced his retirement at the IIHF World Championship in Minsk after a career that spanned 22 years. His moniker made nearly every list of “greatest hockey names.” His player profile on the Yahoo Sports pages is number ‘666.’ The fact that he looked the part – arched eyebrows over a mischievous grin – only helped cement his hellacious reputation.
But Miro Satan wasn’t just an awesome name – that’s Darren Rumble – he was one a tenacious goal scorer in the NHL and one of the most decorated players in Slovak hockey history.
Taken by the Edmonton Oilers in the fifth round of the 1993 Draft – eight spots ahead of Tommy Salo! – he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres after two seasons for Craig Millar and Barrie Moore, a.k.a. “who?” and “huh?” Satan would go on to score 224 goals in 578 games for the Buffalo Sabres, spanning at least three hockey jersey eras. That included 75 points in 2002-03, a career high that led to Satan’s second all-star game appearance.
After playing in Slovakia during the 2005 lockout, he signed a 3-year deal with the New York Islanders, who announced the signing with a “SATAN COMES TO LONG ISLAND” headline. He played out his contract there, scoring 78 goals, and then signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins, fresh off their Eastern Conference championship.
It was with the Penguins where Satan won his only Stanley Cup, with six points in 17 playoff games. Alas, it wasn’t exactly a memorable run for him: He played less than 10 minutes in each of the last three Stanley Cup Final games.
Satan signed with the Boston Bruins in 2010, and had a much more productive playoff run: 10 points in 13 games.
But he left the NHL after that season, playing primarily with HC Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia. He announced at the end of their season it would be his last, and he reiterated that position after Slovakia played its last game at the IIHF world championship in Belarus, a 3-2 win over the Danes.
“I hardly believe that it's over. However, I think that is the right decision and I stand by it,” he said.
Here’s Satan, in his native tongue, after the game:
Satan is Slovakia’s all-time World Championship scoring leader with 75 points, and won gold with them in 2002. He played on four Olympic teams, scoring 10 goals in 22 games, although he didn’t make the cut for Sochi.
One of the games we play on our podcast is called simply “The Jersey Game,” in which you close your eyes, think of a player and then reveal what jersey he’s wearing in the first image that comes to mind.
Which one do you see for Satan?
I’ll tell you which one I wish I could have seen.
New Jersey Devils. Satan on the back. No. 6. One on the sleeve, one on the back, one on the other sleeve.
They would have sold a million of those.
Fair thee well, Miro. On behalf of all hockey fans, today we say, “hail Satan.”