When an athlete decides to become a career professional, there is one category they want to avidly avoid: becoming a “one-hit wonder.” By definition, a one-hit wonder is a person/performer/group that is famous or successful once in its lifetime. In regards to the NHL, this would apply to any single player who has only had one overly successful game streak, post-season playoff glory, or even an entire season, never to peek to that extent again in the NHL.
Much like House of Pain’s one-hit wonder, “Jump Around,” the followings guys were applauded, popular, and in some cases, overrated. The common denominator with these athletes is that their name will likely never make it on the Hockey Hall of Fame list, but they each obtained brief moments in the spotlight, never to follow up with anything even closely comparable to their significant moments that melded together to produce what is considered a one-hit wonder.
If you ever ponder where these guys are now, look no further. Some of these men have continued their careers in the hockey world as a coach or a scout, while others pursued a new venture altogether after hanging up their skates for good.
So, did any of these athletes remain in the NHL, or did their lackluster attempts at another star season lead them elsewhere on their career path? Let’s reminisce on these one-hit wonders and take a look into what they are doing now.
15. Jim Carey
Though he was nicknamed “Ace” and “The Mask” this is not the Hollywood actor associated with the movies. Carey is an American-born hockey player who spent a brief time in the NHL as part of the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, and ultimately, the St. Louis Blues, where he ended his professional hockey career. It was in Washington where Carey completed his best season ever with a GAA of 2.26, 9 shutouts, and 35 wins in 71 games. His efforts earned him the Vezina Trophy as well as a spot in the NHL All-Star Game.
Retiring just shy of his 26th birthday, Jim Carey traded his hockey skates for a briefcase and became a partial owner of several financial companies. He is currently the President and CEO of Optimet Billing Solutions, Inc.
14. Andrew Raycroft
Raycroft kicked off his NHL career as the Calder Trophy recipient recording 2.05 goals against average and a .926 save percentage, and a 29-18-9 record with the Boston Bruins in 2004. After the NHL lockout the following season, Raycroft struggled to keep pace. He was involved in what same call the trade of the decade (traded to Toronto for Tuukka Rask) and proceeded to disappoint fans in Toronto. He then made appearances on teams such as Colorado, Vancouver, and Dallas before he played internationally and eventually ended his professional hockey career in 2014.
Since then, Raycroft has been sharing his knowledge and passion for hockey at the University of Connecticut where he is currently serving in his third season as a volunteer coach for the 2016-17 season.
13. Warren Young
Warren Young burst onto the scene in the 1984-85 season as a rookie in the Pittsburgh Penguins sweater, showing long-term promise. He scored 40 goals that season (more than half the goals of his entire NHL career) and he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. Perhaps his success was due to playing with Penguins rookie phenom Mario Lemieux. Warren made an appearance on the Red Wings the following year, but failed to meet expectations and was dealt back to Pittsburgh where he retired in 1988. Needless to say, he didn’t replicate his 40-goal season.
12. Fabian Brunnstrom
In 2009, Fabian’s milestone as the third player in history to score a hat-trick during his NHL debut game with the Dallas Stars set the bar high for his expectations in the league. Unfortunately for him, that would also prove to be the peak of his career. He finished that season with 29 points in 55 games, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the big leagues, and he was sent down to the AHL where he spent a majority of his career struggling to prove himself as more than a one-hit wonder in the NHL.
Fabian Brunnstrom began the next chapter in his hockey career as part of the SHL in 2012, and he currently plays for Rungsted Ishockey in Denmark. His team is the reigning 2016-17 Danish Cup Champion.
11. Ken Hodge Jr.
As the son of Boston Bruins star, Ken Hodge, the hope for paralleled greatness was an instinctive desire among all prospects in the league. Hodge’s attempt to fulfill that notion came to light with his 1990-91 season as a Bruin where he netted a career high of 30 goals and 29 assists, but he failed to keep the momentum going. He was traded to Tampa Bay in 1992, but the change of scenery failed to convert as he brought insignificant contributions to the organization.
In 1998, Ken Hodge Jr. retired as a professional hockey player, but his passion for the game continues to live on. He has worked with several youth camps and organizations as a coach, and in 2014, he became the head coach of the New England Valley Junior Warriors.
10. Gary Leeman
Though Canadian-born Gary Leeman played for the Canadiens, Flames, and (briefly) the Blues, he is best known for his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the 1989-90 season, he scored 51 goals and notched 44 assists with the Leafs, making him the second Leafs player ever to score over 50 goals in one season. That was his one-hit wonder year, as he never produced even half that many goals per season before his retirement in 1999. It’s a mystery as to why he was able to do so in 1990.
Leeman is most recently responsible for pulling together a class action lawsuit against the NHL citing claims that the league is not equipped with enough care for concussion sufferers. He is also advocating for awareness and prevention for concussion care in the NHL especially.
9. Ville Leino
Finnish rooted Leino wrestled with mediocrity and struggled to find his groove during regular season hockey. His luck shifted when he became a playoff hero in 2010, registering seven goals and 14 assists in just 19 games during the Philadelphia Flyers run to the Stanley Cup Final. Even with a six-year, $28 million contract with Buffalo, Ville was unable to find continued success in the NHL.
Ville Leino was picked up by the KHL in the 2014-15 season and has been playing for the NLA, KHL, and SHL since. In 2014, he attended the Boston Bruins training camp on a tryout basis but failed to secure a spot on the team. He is currently on the roster for the Vaxjo HC of the Swedish Hockey League.
8. Blair MacDonald
Canadian-born MacDonald was a steady goal-scoring player until he found his match as one of Wayne Gretzky’s original linemates during his time with the Oilers and had an explosive season. It was during that time that Blair notched a whopping 46 goals and 48 assists in the 1979-80 season. He fell for less than 50% of that number the following year after being replaced with new talent, and his numbers never recovered. It’s crazy to see how quickly he declined.
Post-retirement in 1986, Blair MacDonald took a job as the head coach for a hockey team in Austria, which launched his coaching career that he balanced in Europe and North America. He also won the International Hockey League Coach of the Year title in 1988-89.
7. John Druce
Druce became a one-hit wonder when he unexpectedly showed out during the 1990 Playoff run as part of the Washington Capitals, scoring 14 goals that postseason and contributing to their success in making it to the semi-finals. The Capitals thought Druce would eventually help them end their Stanley Cup drought. Unfortunately, his firecracker presence didn’t translate into the following season, or ever again in the NHL.
John Druce’s whole world was shaken up in 2004 when his young daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Soon after, he began his involvement in various charitable causes to help raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer. After his daughter passed away in 2016, John has continued to keep pediatric cancer awareness and charity as a focal point in his life.
6. Wayne Babych
Wayne Babych’s only stellar season was about half-way through his professional career when he had a 96 point, 54 goal season in 1980-81, clad in a Blues sweater. Now granted, back in the 80s, scoring 50 goals was not the elusive feat that it is today, but it was still pretty impressive to see. He became a mediocre contributor, but never a star scorer again after that lone season. Over his 13-year NHL career, Babych was responsible for netting 192 total goals, averaging out to 20 goals per season, including his top season.
Babych retired in 1986, and, as of 2015, he is a designer and builder of golf courses, residing with his family in Winnipeg, Manitoba. All things considered, that’s a pretty successful post-hockey career.
5. Scott Bjugstad
Bjustad is a winger who had his one-hit wonder year in the NHL in 1985-86 as a part of the Minnesota North Stars. Once again, in the 80s, there were a lot more goals scored and in certain years, some guy just got lucky.The puck found the back of the net 43 times that year credited to Bjustad, with an additional 33 helpers in 80 games total. During his remaining time in the NHL, he never came close to matching that statistic again before retiring in 1992.
Ironically, Scott Bjustad is currently using his skills and wisdom developed throughout his hockey career to shape the next generation of hockey players. He currently runs a hockey shooting school, aptly titled, Scott Bjustad Shooting School, located in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.
4. Steve Penney
Due to an injured Canadiens starting-goaltender, Penney made his debut playoff appearance, and it did not disappoint. He recorded three shutouts in 15 games and led all the goalies in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he sustained a cartilage injury to his knee, which pulled him from the starting lineup the following year and gave rookie Patrick Roy a chance. That was the year that the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, however, Penney’s name was left off due to his injury preventing him from playing any of the playoff games.
Steve retired from the NHL at age 27, and as of 2009, he was working for an eyeglass frames distributor in Quebec. His kids play hockey, so he spends a good deal of time guiding their futures, and even laces up on an adult league. Penney is also active with the Canadiens Alumni.
3. Jimmy Carson
Anyone standing in the shadow of the great Wayne Gretzky is going to have a tough time distinguishing themselves, and in some cases, it has lead to massive disappointment all around. Jimmy Carson was a victim of the Gretzky shadow when he was part of the trade to Edmonton in 1988, right after a stellar season with the Kings in 1987-88 where he racked up 107 points and set records for most points and goals (55) in a season as an American-born player. After a season in Edmonton, he promptly requested a trade to his hometown team of the Detroit Red Wings, where he skated by as an average player, never fully throwing his heart into the game thus never achieving greatness in the NHL again.
Upon his NHL retirement, Carson became a financial planner and had devoted his time to his wife and four children, none of which play hockey. He remains active with the Detroit Red Wings alumni, and played in the alumni game at the 2014 NHL Winter Classic at Comerica Park.
2. Jonathan Cheechoo
As arguably one of the most potentially talented wingers in the league, with an emphasis on his slick passing techniques, Cheechoo was a true NHL one-hit wonder. His third season with the San Jose Sharks registered 56 goals and 37 assists alongside line mate Joe Thornton, making Jonathon the recipient of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the most goals in the league during the 2005-06 season. He played four more seasons after that but was on a steady decline which first landed him in the AHL, and eventually to the KHL.
Today, Cheechoo is still playing in the KHL as a member of HC Slovan Bratislava. He also continues to honor his roots by involving himself in the hockey community of his native town of Moose Factory, Ontario.
1. Fernando Pisani
As part of the Edmonton Oilers team, Fernando Pisani made history in 2006 as the first NHL player ever to score a shorthanded goal in overtime hockey during the Stanley Cup Finals. His entire playoff run was so incredible, it’s still reflected on today. In fact, he might be one of the most revered one-hit wonders in the history of the Oilers team.
His NHL career got cut short after he developed ulcerative colitis following the 2005-06 season, missing the first 26 games, and he never quite reached his full potential when he returned. Today, Pisani is still closely involved with the community and the Edmonton Oilers’ alumni organization, making appearances and coaching youth hockey. There’s no doubt his career will only be remembered for his ’06 playoff run.
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