We are currently living in a golden age of defensemen. Practically every team has either a roster player or prospect that combines speed, skill and smarts on the blue line. Defensemen have become so important in today’s NHL that it’s not uncommon for teams to deploy seven defensemen and eleven forwards on a nightly basis to portion out minutes on the blue line, easing the workload for the defense.
But for defensemen to be so good in today's NHL, we had to come a long way. For every Brent Burns and Drew Doughty, there have been three times as many human pylons that can barely skate backwards, which makes you wonder how low NHL standards for defensemen were in the past.
If anything, the dumpster fires masquerading around blueliners in the history of league only makes players like Bobby Orr, Chris Chelios, Nick Lidstrom, Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey even more impressive. Not only these pylon-players couldn't help their teams keep the opponents from scoring, you wonder how some of them even managed to hop over the boards on a consistent basis, as they’re so bad. Truth be told, very few of them got to see the ice.
Thankfully, with the end of the clutch-and-grab era, there are fewer d-men who are able to cash checks and skate by—no pun intended—simply by grabbing on and getting dragged along by more talented players. And although there are significantly fewer defensemen in the league that can’t skate, shoot, pass or handle, it doesn’t mean they didn’t exist.
Every team has a defenseman they would rather forget, but they won’t because they’re all here on this list. They may be a footnote in their team’s history but their general incompetence and lacklustre play have earned them the special designation of being the worst defenseman in their team’s history. Keep reading for a celebration of every team's worst defender in franchise history.
30 Anaheim Ducks: Tom Kurvers
Tom Kurvers was once a decent defenseman. He was always a highly productive player, especially on the power play thanks to his wicked point shot and puck-moving skills. However, at even strength, Tom was often a defensive liability. But the offense he brought was typically enough for that not to matter. He finished with over 50 points at least three times in his career and helped the Montreal Canadiens take home the Cup in 1986. A journeyman who was competent playing for Montreal, Buffalo, New Jersey, Toronto, Vancouver and the New York Islanders, Kurvers' career came crashing down when he finally arrived in Anaheim.
In just twenty-two games with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Kurvers had 4 goals, 7 points and was -7. Anaheim traded for Kurvers to spark their ailing power play, but as his numbers indicate, he was unable to. By July, the 32-year-old's contract was terminated so he moved to Japan where he played one season before calling it quits.
29 Arizona Coyotes: Brandon Gormley
Drafted 13th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010, Brandon Gormley was a highly touted prospect that scouts described as, “well rounded, but not dynamic” while praising his intelligence on the ice and his ability as a puck-mover.
However, Gormley never rewarded the Coyotes for using the 13th pick on him. Over the course of his rookie contract, Gormley could never crack the NHL roster, unless the team was in tank-mode. In three seasons split between Arizona and the team's AHL affiliate in Portland, Gormley never developed into the player experts thought he could be. Typically, that’s not such a big deal, but three picks later, St. Louis picked Vladimir Tarasenko. Now that hurts.
In March of this year, Gormley was traded from the Albany Devils to the Senators' farm team for future considerations and looks like a long shot to make the big club even with Marc Methot out with a shattered finger.
28 Boston Bruins: Steve Staios
The Boston Bruins have been blessed with an incredible record given how long they have been a franchise. Their 73rd season, the 1996-97 NHL season, is one that leaves a lot to be desired as it saw the Bruins slip to last in the Eastern Conference and marked the first time they had missed the playoffs in 30 years.
Contributing to the Bruins’ dismal season was none other than journeyman defenseman—and part-time right winger—Steve Staios. Appearing in 54 games, Staios posted a team worst -26 and only contributed 11 points to the campaign. Other career highlights for Staios include being the Atlanta Thrasher captain and taking a penalty in overtime during game five of the finals with the Oilers, which eventually led to Carolina winning the Cup in seven games.
Today, Steve Staios works as the president of the Hamilton Bulldogs.
27 Buffalo Sabres: Mike Wilson
You would think that a 6ft 6, 230-pound defenseman would be a force to be reckoned with, but Mike Wilson's size only served to frustrate Sabres fans as the big bodied defenseman refused to use his frame. Despite his imposing size, Wilson was not a physical player, which is mind-boggling. And looking at his stats, it’s not clear exactly what he contributed to the Sabres before he was shipped off to the Panthers for Rhett Warrener.
To make matters worse, the only reason Mike Wilson was a Sabre in the first-place was because the team was cheap and didn’t want to pay Alex Mogilny, who would go on to post 107 points the following season with the Canucks.
He was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks with the 20th overall pick in the 1993 draft. He would go on to play for Sabres, Panthers, Penguins and Rangers.
26 Calgary Flames: Chris Biotti
Chris Biotti is probably a smart man (smart in terms of hockey players at least), but the Harvard University alum just didn’t have what it takes to make it in the NHL. After all, when has an Ivy League education really served NHL players well? The Flames selected Biotti 17th overall in 1985. Although he was a promising prospect, he only played three mediocre seasons with the team’s affiliate in Salt Lake without ever dressing for the Flames.
He then went overseas to play two seasons in Italy—did anyone else know that Italy has professional hockey? Good thing Calgary drafted future captain Joe Nieuwendyk in the second round, wiping Chris Biotti from Flames fans’ memories for good. Well, at least Biotti can always boast about his Harvard tenure.
Despite never playing in the NHL, Biotti was able to win a bronze medal at the 1986 World Jr. Championships. which was the first U.S team to earn a medal.
25 Carolina Hurricanes: Nikos Tselios
The Carolina Hurricanes selected Nikos Tselios with the 22nd pick in the 1997 Entry Draft, the team’s first pick in its existence. And boy was it a dud.
After being drafted, Tselios returned to the OHL to play for the Belleville Bulls. He was moved to the Plymouth Whalers where he became a point per game player. Tselios managed to impress a lot of people in his final OHL season, but would ultimately fail to live up to the expectations placed on him. He played in 159 games in two years with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the IHL from 1999 to 2001. He tallied just 47 points in that time.
The 6’5″, 220 pound defenseman made his NHL debut during the 2001-2002 season. He failed to get on the scoreboard in two games played that year, but he did rack up six penalty minutes in those two games. After those two games, his NHL career was over.
24 Chicago Blackhawks: Michal Rozsival
This NHL veteran wasn’t a Blackhawk until his late 30s, which may excuse his lapses, but it doesn’t change the fact that he has been consistently the least impressive defenseman along for the dynasty-ride. He only played third-pairing minutes, but has spent most of this current season a healthy scratch because why waste/risk minutes on a 38-year-old that doesn’t do anything particularly well anymore but kill penalties?
Admittedly, there are probably worse defenseman in Blackhawks history but it’s crazy to think that Michal Rozsival has two Stanley Cup rings for simply being there. Something tells us he's bought Duncan Keith a ton of dinners since becoming a Blackhawk because Rozsival certainly wouldn't have the "Stanley Cup Champion" tag if it weren't for the Keith's freakish ability to pick up the slack and carry his team.
The Czech defender doesn't play much anymore and Chicago has been looking more like a contender than a pretender (as far as the blue line is concerned) for the first time since their last Stanley Cup run in 2015.
23 Columbus Blue Jackets: Scott Lachance
Charlottesville, Virginia’s own Scott Lachance spent most of his NHL career with the New York Islanders where he was quite bad and inexplicably on the team for quite some time. Even stranger, Lachance represented the Islanders at the NHL All-Star, which probably speaks more to the dismal state of the Islanders in the early 90s than Lachance's ability. He was drafted with the 4th overall pick by the New York Islanders in the 1991 draft. Over eight years and 450 games with the Islanders, Lachance scored 26 goals, 105 points, posted plus/minus of -47 and logged 348 PIMS. Maybe the Islanders didn't want to admit they had wasted such a high pick on a bust?
Lachance would find a way to reach a new low to close out his career in 138 games over two years with the Blue Jackets with no goals, 5 points, -43 and only 90 PIMS. Today, he works as a scout for the New Jersey Devils.
22 Colorado Avalanche: Francois Beauchemin
The Colorado Avalanche are on pace to have their worst season since emigrating from Quebec City and Francois Beauchemin has had a hand in creating this blemish to the franchise. He’s been a turnover machine this season and appears to have have quit on the team.
He barely blocks two shots per game nowadays after leading the team (and almost the league) last season. When Beauchemin arrived in Colorado via free agency, he often took matters into his own hands, shirking Patrick Roy's system. If Beauchemin had a the gall to ignore a Hall of Famer's game plan, what hope does Jared Bednar have of reigning him in? According to the Avalanche's record, no chance.
Worse, Beauchemin is expensive. He’s making $4.5 million until July 2018. Beauchemin has become a problem for the team, due to his lack of leadership and his terrible play. Avalanche fans are no doubt longing for the days of Nate Guenin now.
21 Dallas Stars: Bob McCord
Though Dallas's current (and recent) defensive corps could conceivably crack the list, the true worst in franchise history has to be Bob McCord back in the North Star days. McCord was a minor leaguer masquerading as an NHLer. McCord played in the minors for over ten years before the Boston Bruins brought him to the pros. He was a regular with the Bruins but was moved to Detroit after two seasons where he hardly saw any action. His role with the Red Wings was to fill-in for injured players and shore up their minor league team's defense.
McCord's second chance playing in the NHL came when the expansion Minnesota North Stars selected him. There, he was largely ineffectual. In 139 games with the North Stars, McCord had seven goals, 33 points and was -43. He had one spectacular playoff run, scoring two goals, 7 points in 14 games. But beyond that, McCord isn't much more than a forgettable footnote.
20 Detroit Red Wings: Uwe Krupp
$16.4 million for 32 games. That’s how much the Red Wings paid for two seasons of Germany’s Uwe Krupp and his services on the blueline. Krupp may be one of the all-time great Buffalo Sabres defensemen but his stint with the Red Wings is practically non-existent.
Injuries kept him out of the lineup from the beginning. Injuries are an unfortunate reality of professional sports, but what hurts the most is what Krupp did while injured. Krupp went dogsled racing instead of rehabbing, causing a rift between him and the rest of the team.
Krupp got to raise the Cup for Detroit in 2002 and was given a ring, but his name was left off the Cup by the Red Wings. To think that scouts, trainers, team execs, etc. get their names engraved on the Cup, you really have to piss a team off for them to omit you from their history books.
19 Edmonton Oilers: Sheldon Souray
Reeling from the ugly break-up with Chris Pronger, the Oilers were desperate to replace their star d-man and threw sacks of gold in Sheldon Souray’s direction.
Souray only played three seasons with the club, which were plagued by injury and overall disappointments. He had one healthy season, but by then it was too late. Souray was sent down to the AHL for half the 2009-10 season. It doesn’t get much worse than getting told you’re not good enough to play for the worst team in the league.
The saga began in the 2010 offseason when Souray requested a trade out of Edmonton, citing irreconcilable difference with Oilers management due to their handling of his various ailments. The Oilers put Souray on waivers hoping he would be claimed by another NHL team, getting them off the hook for the remainder of his contract.
Of course, other GMs weren't willing to risk his huge salary and injury history. So Souray cleared waivers and was told by management not to report to training camp. This dance continued for the entire season until, finally, in the summer of 2011, Edmonton bought-out the fifth and final year of Souray's contract.
He was drafted 71st overall in the 1994 draft by the New Jersey Devils, and played for the Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, and of course, the Edmonton Oilers.
18 Florida Panthers: Chris Allen
A year after the Panthers drafted Chris Allen 60th overall in the third round of the 1996 NHL Draft, Allen became the OHL Defenceman of the Year. Chris also tied for second all time in OHL goals for a defenseman with Bobby Orr and Al McInnis with 38 in 66 games as a member of the Kingston Frontenacs. Impressive company to be in. Unlike Orr and McInnis, Chris Allen would never make it to the NHL.
His career was sidetracked by injuries and only appeared in two games over two years with the Panthers. However, it’s not all bad. Allen was voted Peta's Male winner of the 2008 Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door Contest so at least he has that going for him.
Allen was viewed as a solid NHL prospect, unfortunately for him, he wasn't able to reach his potential. Following his brief stint in the NHL, he would go on to play for numerous teams in Europe for years to come.
17 Los Angeles Kings: Brian Boyle
The Kings had three first-round picks in the 2003 NHL Draft. They took Dustin Brown at 13, Jeff Tambellini at 27 and the 6’7” monster Brian Boyle at 26. Corey Perry going 28th is neither here nor there.
Given Boyle’s massive size, the Kings planned to use him as a d-man, which he struggled greatly at (despite being a competent defenseman on the penalty kill throughout college). So the Kings shifted him back to forward and was later traded to the Rangers. Boyle's size certainly would make him an attractive option on the blue line. What are opposing forwards going to do? If he didn't crush them along the boards, he would at least make crashing the net a nightmare.
Unfortunately, Boyle's never demonstrated or developed the mobility necessary to keep up with the NHL's other defenders which ultimately necessitates hiding him at the wing. Starting next season, Boyle will be celebrating his 10th year in the NHL, something that probably would have been unattainable had the Kings held on to their aspirations of deploying big Boyle on the blue line.
16 Minnesota Wild: Ladislav Benysek
Can any player whose only shot at NHL playing time came by virtue of an expansion draft really be considered a disappointment? For the purposes of this list, yes, they can.
Ladislav Benysek made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers scoring zero points in two games. The rest of that season was spent back in the AHL with this time with the Hamilton Bulldogs. On September 30th 1999 Benysek was waived by the Edmonton Oilers and claimed by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who let him return to Europe to play in the Czech league.
Benysek played 159 with the Wild, scoring 3 goals, 15 points and posted a -26. The Wild only won 51 in their first two seasons and Benysek was out of the league after 14 games of their third season.
15 Montreal Canadiens: David Fischer
Having been around for over century, there have been a lot of legends to play for the Habs, but for every legend that's donned the bleu, blanc et rouge, there have been plenty of busts as well.
David Fischer was selected 20th overall in the 2006 NHL Draft having just won the Mr. Hockey Award, which goes to the best high school player in Minnesota. Fischer was supposed to bring a great deal of dependability and size to the Canadiens blue line. Standing six feet, four inches tall, Fischer was supposed to fill out, and be a force. Fischer was also considered to be a very good skater.
Despite being considered one of the top Canadiens prospects in 2006, he steadily regressed, and would never play a game with the Canadiens.
The few Canadiens fans that remember David Fischer are now crossing their fingers in hopes that Mikhail Sergachev doesn't have a similar fate.
14 Nashville Predators: Ryan Parent
The Predators have a long history of drafting great defensemen but they really struck out with Ryan Parent who had two chances with the team and couldn’t crack the roster either time.
He was initially drafted by the Preds in 2005, but played three more seasons in junior before he’d join the Milwaukee Admirals for the 2006 AHL playoffs. On February 15, 2007, Parent was traded along with Scottie Upshall, a 1st round draft-pick, and a 3rd round draft-pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Peter Forsberg.
Three years later, Parent was traded back to the Nashville Predators for the rights to Dan Hamhuis and a conditional draft pick in 2011. Before he got to suit up for the Preds, he was traded to the Canucks where he would play 4 games, get a groin injury and never dress for an NHL game again.
13 New Jersey Devils: Mike Kitchen
Former Colorado Rocky/New Jersey Devil defenseman Mike Kitchen is remembered as a decent defenseman, which is probably due to the fact that his offensive numbers are nothing to write home about. In eight years with the Colorado Rockies (who relocated to Jersey 1982), Kitchen appeared in 474 games and only has twelve goals and 74 points to show for it.
The strange thing is, if Mike Kitchen was the defensive stalwart people remember him as, how did his plus-minus take a huge beating every year? Kitchen, in eight NHL seasons, never finished as a plus-player and is -139 for his career.
Of course, Kitchen would have the last laugh. He's been working as an assistant coach since 2010 and has two Stanley Cups to show for it.
12 New York Islanders: Janne Niinimaa
Janne Niinimaa just didn’t fit in Long Island. In five of his first six NHL seasons, Niinimaa tallied 30 or more points. However, when he arrived in Nassau, he never lived up to expectations. In 136 games for the New York Islanders, Niinimaa recorded only 44 points, an overall point total he had accomplished four times.
At the time, Niinimaa looked like the solid route for Milbury as the d-man recorded more than 30 combined points for the Islanders and Oilers in 2002-03. However, after recording 28 points in 82 games in 2003-04, Niinimaa’s career in the NHL spiraled downward.
Do we all agree that whatever the opposite of a Midas Touch is, Mike Milbury, whether in the front office or on a broadcast, has got it?
11 New York Rangers: Wade Redden
Wade Redden had a solid NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. And then, at the age of 31, Redden signed a 6-year, $39 million contract with the Rangers and his career was pretty much over.
Redden’s play declined so steeply that on September 25, 2010, two years after he signed with the Rangers, Redden was put on waivers and was assigned to the Rangers AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. He would play for two more years in the AHL before the Rangers used a compliance buy-out to rid themselves of Redden.
Redden tried to mount a comeback with the Blues and the Bruins, but ended up retiring in 2013. Redden has since been working in player development with the St. Louis Blues where hopefully he can help young defensemen learn from his mistakes.
10 Ottawa Senators: Brian Lee
The 2005 NHL Draft is one of the most loaded drafts in recent history. By virtue of the lockout lottery, Ottawa were picking ninth despite finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference in 2003-04. It was their second chance to pick in the top ten since 1997 and their first since 2001. It was a perfect opportunity to add a dynamic, young player that could develop alongside a steady core. Instead, the Sens drafted Brian Lee.
Lee, at the time, was regarded as a good prospect, having won almost every trophy a junior player could win in Minnesota, but some analysts thought ninth was high for Lee. He was hot and cold during his tenure with the Sens. He would be exceptional in the playoffs and then fail to make the roster the next season. Eventually the team gave up on Lee by trading him for Matt Gilroy, a defenseman whose unspectacular skills and expiring contract made it clear the Sens weren't interested in having him on the books longer than the 14-regular season and 3-playoff games he appeared in. And it hurts so much knowing that the Sens could have had Kopitar…
9 Philadelphia Flyers: Glen Cochrane
Cochrane was grit and toughness incarnate and loved to fight, which is why he found his niche on the Flyers. Outside of his physicality, Cochrane really didn’t have what it takes to be an NHL defenseman.
The Cranbrook, British Columbia native played 257 games to start his career with the Flyers, earning just 77 points but a solid 1110 penalty minutes in the process, which goes to show why Cochrane was really on the team. The Broadstreet Bullies had a true bully amongst them. Recording over a thousand penalty minutes in under three hundred games is amazing for any player whose role was that of on-ice policeman, but at what point does one start to hurt his team as the PIMs pile up?
Though he may not have been a good defenseman, Cochrane may have found his niche spotting talent. Cochrane currently works for the Ducks as a scout and it can't be pure coincidence that the franchise now boasts a glut of young blueliners (and the potential salary cap headache that awaits) that has opposing teams salivating over. I guess it doesn't take one to know one.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins: Ian Moran
For eight years, Ian Moran was a Pittsburgh Penguin, which is insane because typically players as unremarkable as Moran don’t get to boast about their longevity. Moran was a defenseman but he was so bad at it that he was often called upon to play wing because the Penguins were presumably desperate to find something he was good at.
They never found it and in eight season with the Penguins, Moran only mustered 1.3 shots per game. If anyone has any information in regards to what Moran contributed to the Penguins for eight years, please let us know.
On March 11, 2003, Moran's forgettable career with the Penguins came to a close when he was traded to the Bruins for a fourth round selection, which turned out to be Paul Bissonnette. With all due respect to Biz Nasty, if a team decides they want Paul Bissonnette over you, you have done something terribly, terribly wrong.
7 San Jose Sharks: Mike Rathje
At 6-foot-5, what GM wouldn’t covet this defenseman? Well, any GM that ever saw Mike Rathje play.
Despite being gifted with an imposing frame, Rathje never used his body, which would earn him “gentle giant” status among Sharks fans. While Rathje did have some finesse in his game, Sharks fans were sold Rathje as the second-coming of Chris Pronger. Thankfully for the health and safety of the rest of the NHL, there is only one Chris Pronger. As if that didn’t frustrate fans enough, Rathje also held out for more money for nearly half the 2002 season. Coming back for the 2002-03 season, he recorded record personal numbers, scoring 7 goals and tallying 22 assists. Does that warrant a hold-out? You wouldn’t think so.
Rathje is currently part owner of three Bay Area restaurants: Tres Gringo’s, San Jose Bar and Grill and the Voodoo Lounge. He also operates a business in Calgary that acts as a moving facilitator for oil companies.
6 St. Louis Blues: Noel Picard
One of the most iconic photos in NHL history is Bobby Orr flying through the air at the old Boston Garden after potting the game-winning overtime goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals against the Blues. But how did he get in the air? Blues defenseman Noel Picard tripped him. Being on the wrong side of an iconic moment like that is real bad.
Picard’s only other claim to fame was his brutal sucker punch of Claude LaForge of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1968 that knocked him out and ended his career. Way to go, Noel.
Noel Picard's career would end in a truly tragic manner. On a hunting trip with friends in November 1971, Picard hopped aboard an old horse for a ride around the area. But a second horse got tangled with the first causing Picard's horse to fall to the ground with his foot caught under the old mare. By the time the horse got up, Picard's foot was so badly crushed that three bones could be seen protruding from his boot.
Hours passed before he was finally admitted to a St. Louis hospital. The doctors were seriously contemplating an amputation, but decided to at least attempt to save some aspects of the original foot. He only played 31 more games with the Blues over the next two seasons before he was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Flames, where he retired after 41 games and some incredible rehabilitation.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning: Mike Egener
Once again, a mistake from the 2003 Draft comes back to haunt a franchise. With their first pick of the draft, the Lightning selected Mike Egener 34th overall. Egener played a total of 158 games over the course of three seasons with the Springfield Falcons before being moved around the AHL and ECHL. He never played a game for the big club.
By selecting Mike Egener, the hockey club passed on three star-quality defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Shea Weber, all who could have been considered the best defensemen in Lightning history.
After spending the 2015-2016 as an assistant coach with the Mount Royal University Men's Hockey team, as well as the director of hockey operations with the Jr. Hitmen Hockey Development Program in Calgary, Egener was named head coach of the Okanagan Hockey Academy's midget varsity team last September.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs: Staffan Kronwall
What exactly did Staffan Kronwall do when he played for the Leafs between 2005 and 2008? He played in 52 regular season games and recorded just one assist. So he wasn’t bringing any offence to the table, nor was he bringing much defence, posting a -5 rating. He wasn’t there for aggressiveness either as he served a measly 21 penalty minutes with the Leafs.
After Toronto released him, Kronwall played in just 14 more NHL games with Washington and Calgary. His last NHL game came in 2009-10 and he’s been playing in the KHL in Russia since 2011-12. Kronwall played 66 NHL contests with a lone goal and three assists to his name.
As the younger brother of Detroit Red Wing Niklas Kronwall, it's easy to see why NHL teams would have taken a chance on him. Every team could use a player capable of "Kronwalling" opposing players trying to sneak up the wing. Unfortunately for the Leafs, Kronwall wasn't able to replicate his older brother's specialty. But on the bright side, the Leafs have a new #44 on the blue line and he's so good no one will ever remember who wore that number before him.
3 Vancouver Canucks: Dean Malkoc
Dean Malkoc was drafted for his toughness and size by the New Jersey Devils in the 1990 NHL Draft’s fifth round. He didn’t play a game with the Devils and the Canucks eventually signed him out of the AHL for the 1995-1996. Playing for his hometown team, Malkoc didn’t help much, recording just two assists in 41 games and serving 136 penalty minutes.
Though he was tough, Malkoc was also a defensive liability and posted a -10 rating in those 41 games. The Canucks didn’t protect him in the waiver draft the next year and Boston took a chance on him. He retired with four points in 116 NHL contests.
After a forgettable NHL career, Malkoc is still making a living in the hockey world. Malkoc is in his tenth season with the Bruins organization, working as an amateur scout in Western Canada for the B's.
2 Washington Capitals: Bill Mikkelson
Defenseman Bill Mikkelson has a rare NHL honor. He holds the record for the worst single-season plus/minus in NHL history. The 1974-75 Washington Capitals were abysmal. They finished with a record of 8-67-5, spread out over three different coaches.
No one on the team epitomizes that colossal failure of a season quite like Bill Mikkelson who was -82 in only 59 games. Plus/minus is not a perfect statistic but you know something’s wrong if you’re close to -100. More than three decades later, this remains an NHL record and no-one has posted a mark worse than -61 since.
Mikkelson's -82 season isn't even much of an outlier for the defenseman either. In the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft, Mikkelson was exposed by the Kings and claimed by the New York Islanders. In the 1972-73 inaugural season, Mikkelson played significant minutes for the brand new New York team and posted 1 goal, 11 points in 72 games. He also posted a plus/minus rating of -54, which was good for the third-worst mark ever recorded since the NHL began tracking the stat in 1967.
1 Winnipeg Jets: Mike Amodeo
Mike Amodeo was a star with the Toronto Marlies and in the WHA, but his game never translated to the NHL level. Amodeo joined the Jets for their inaugural NHL season and fans were surprised to see a 5’10”, 190-pound player anchoring the blue line.
Of course, they were right to be surprised be Amodeo’s small stature immediately proved to be a problem. In only 19 games with the Winnipeg Jets, he collected no points and was -15. After those 19 games, his NHL career was over.
Mike was last on the ice at the 1982 World Championships, but he was not playing for Canada. His parents were Italian, and so he was eligible to represent Italy. Amodeo, along with 16 other Italian-Canadians on the team, managed to beat the Americans and became the first promoted team since the tournament's expansion to eight to survive relegation.
The last we heard of Amodeo was that he was working in the Toronto area as a beer salesman.