Opaa! Honoring Greeks In Hockey.

NHL players come  from many different places and from many different countries.  Most people think of NHL players as coming from Canada, The United States, Russia, Sweden,  and Finland.  But guess what?  There are hockey players that come from that beautiful European country known as Greece!  As a Greek person myself, I’m always mindful of players of my heritage that come into the league.  Some are famous, and some not so much.

In honor of today being Greek Independence Day, and being Greek myself, I thought that we’d take a moment and acknowledge some of the more notable Greek hockey players.

Most likely the most famous as well as successful Greek hockey player is Chris Chelios.  Born and raised in my hometown of Chicago, Illinois, Chris enjoyed a long and successful career as one of the NHL’s best defenceman ever to play.  Skating for the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and a very brief stint for  the Atlanta Thrashers, Chelios was loved in the town he played in and villfied wherever he visited.  A three time Norris Trophy winner for the NHL’s best defenceman and a three time Stanley Cup Champion, Chelios will no doubt end up in the NHL Hall of Fame.

Chris had a cousin Nikos Tselios who was the very first pick of the Carolina Hurricanes as he was selected 22nd overall in 1997.  Unfortunately Nikos only played two games in the NHL and spent most of his career bouncing around the minors.  He also spent some time playing in Eurpoe, as his career was not near as illustrious as his cousin Chris.  More after the jump. 

Jimmy Carson who’s official surname is Kyriazopoulos, was born in Southfield, Michigan.  A number one pick of the Los Angeles Kings, Jimmy played for five NHL teams and had his most success early in his career with the Kings and the Edmonton Oilers.  One thing that he will be remembered for in his career is that he was part of the trade that sent Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings.

Mike Karakas who played long before most of us were born who are reading this site, was a goaltender for the Chicago Blackhawks from 1935-1946.  Karakas born in Aurora, Minnesota appeared in the Stanley Cup finals with the Hawks winning one of them in 1938.  Karakas won the Calder trophy in his first full season with the Hawks and is one of the original members of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Chris Kontos was born in Toronto, Ontario and was a first round pick (15th overall) of the New York Rangers in 1982.  Chris played for four NHL teams with little success except for a career year with the Tampa Bay Lighting in 1992-1993 where he scored 27 goals and had 24 assists.  That season he began with a stellar opening night scoring four times against Ed Belfour. He also had a successful playoff performance as a member of the Los Angeles Kings where he scored nine goals in 11 games.

George Parros known as one of the smartest hockey players in the game today was born in Washington, PA.  The 222nd pick of the Los Angeles Kings, George makes his living being one of the NHL’s policemen if you will.  Not know for scoring, but willing to drop the gloves and fight to support his teammates, George is a guy that you really don’t want to cross.  He has some skill and won’t embarrass you, as he can put the puck in the net, but everyone knows what his job is.  And he does it quite well.  Parros is also known for his mustache, which versions of can be purchased at the Honda Center where the Anaheim Ducks play.  All proceeds go to charity.

Nick Kypreos born in Toronto, Ontario was an undrafted player who played eight season in the NHL until a fight with Ryan VandenBussche ended his career after he sustained a concussion.  Nick could score in the the lower leagues, but once he made it to the NHL his game transferred to that of an enforcer.  Nick has his name on the Stanley Cup as a member of the New York Rangers in 1994.  His best season was in 1992-1993 as a member of the Washington Capitals when he scored 17 goals and compiled 325 penalty minutes to lead the league.  Nick is now a hockey analyst for the Rogers Sportsnet cable television network in Canada.  You can hear him most weekdays on the Fan590 show which runs at noontime.

Tom Kostopoulos was drafted 204th overall in 1999  by the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Born in Mississauga, Ontario, Tom was known as “Greek Lighting” during his time with the Montreal Canadiens.  A hard nosed player with a touch of snarl, Kostopoulos is a perfect grinder for your, or any team.  He’ll typically be found on the fourth line, but can play on any line in a pinch if needed and won’t be a distraction.  A player that finishes his checks and is committed to forechecking, he’ll be your best and most tenacious forward.  He’s been able to score in the minors, but like many other players, his game has a different style here in the NHL.  If any of the Florida Panthers brass is reading, here’s a guy that would fit in quite nicely next year on your fourth line, and as a penatly killer.

There’s also the Hellenic National Hockey Team.

So there you have it.  Greeks in hockey.  We aren’t just for owning diners and breaking dishes at weddings!

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments an opinions.

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Tags: Chris Chelios Chris Knotos Greek Hockey Players Jimmy Carson Nick Kypreos Nikos Chelios Tom Kostopoulos

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