The Macedonian Tendency: June 24th - All Macedonian Hockey, All The Time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 24th - All Macedonian Hockey, All The Time!

Macedonian heritage alive through Stamkos and NHL brass:
King Sentinel

"Nia Ve Sakam".
This is old version Macedonian for "We want you."
Well, the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted York Region resident (Unionville) Steven Stamkos with the first overall pick in the National Hockey League entry draft for 18-year-olds at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa Friday.

The former Sarnia Sting centre is of Macedonian decent, like myself. Having roots of similar nature, I grew curious as to what NHL players and owners/executives, who come from the same heritage.
During TSN's broadcast of the draft, it became known that Stamkos was the first Macedonian Canadian taken with the first overall pick in the NHL draft since defenceman Ed Jovanovski (Windsor native) in 1994 by the Florida Panthers. He has since moved to the Vancouver Canucks and is currently a member of the Phoenix Coyotes defence core. The 31-year-old has developed into a premier blue-liner during his 12-year NHL career, producing 397 points (109 goals and 288 assists) in 821 games.

Another current Coyote, Mike Zigomanis (North York), also has Macedonian roots. He was drafted twice in the NHL, first to the Buffalo Sabres in 1999 (second round - 64th overall), then 46th overall in 2001 to the Carolina Hurricanes after he couldn't come to terms on a contract with the Sabres. The 27-year-old has spent time in Carolina, with the St. Louis Blues, and now in Phoenix, acuminating 33 points (19 goals and 14 assists) in 134 career NHL games.

Defenceman Steve Staios, 34, is a Hamilton native, whose stay-at-home caliber semantics have him steadily on the Edmonton Oilers' blue-line. He is a proud Macedonian Canadian, who has also journeyed from the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks and the Atlanta Thrashers (a former captain) during his 13-year NHL career. In 759 games he has 178 points (50 goals and 128 assists).
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore, 31, has backstopped fame and scrutiny, as the most unknown Canadian of Macedonian roots, being from Laval, Quebec. He spent five successful seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, winning the Hart (NHL MVP) and Vezina (best goaltender) trophies in 2001-02, before being traded to the Avalanche in 2006.

The trade could be credited to the netminders' failed drug test prior to the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino. Later it was revealed the failed drug test was contributed by the prescription hair loss medication Propecia, which Theodore had been taking legally for eight years. He has a win-loss record of 155- 176-30-7, with a 2.68 goals against average and 23 career shutouts during his 11 NHL years.
Other notable Macedonian Canadians include Chris Kotsopoulos, Alek Stojanov and Steve Gatzos.
Kotsopoulos (native of Scarborough) was a rugged defenceman who played nearly 500 games in the NHL during the 1980s, with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. He was a top defence-minded blue-liner and also chipped in with 153 points (44 goals and 109 assists) in his 10-year run in the NHL.

Stajanov, of Windsor, had short-lived four-year NHL stint with the Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, last donning a Pens jersey in 1997. He only had seven points in 107 games. Gatzos (of Toronto) spent time with the Penguins as well, between 1981-85, producing 35 points (15 goals and 20 assists) in 89 games.

It's also worth noting that former Leafs' owner and chairman Steve Stavro (born Manoli Stavroff Sholdas), who died April 24, 2006, was a Macedonian Canadian, and current Detroit Red Wing (and Tiger owner in Major League Baseball) owner, Mike Ilitch, is a Macedonian American.
With the praise Stamkos is receiving as the first-overall pick, he could develop into the most successful Macedonian Canadian NHL player ever.

I hope Stamkos represents all Macedonian Canadians proudly with his future NHL successes.
Congratulations to Stamkos and other York Region residents who were drafted into the NHL and good luck with all your careers!

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