After the Spokane Chiefs franchise moved from Kelowna to Spokane in 1985, there have been 59 former Chiefs who have played in the National Hockey League. Of those, eight are currently playing in the NHL.
Some players on the list attached have made a clear mark on the NHL, earning All-Star status and holding up the league’s most celebrated award, the Stanley Cup. Others barely skated in the NHL before returning to minor leagues or international play.
Here are some of those most notable players and memorable moments of the Chiefs playing on some of hockey’s biggest stages:
Current players: Of the players currently playing in the NHL, Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and Michael Grabner of the New York Rangers have made quite a presence in the hockey world. Grabner, a right winger heading into his ninth year in the NHL, entered the league in 2009. The 2006 first-round pick was named an All-Star team in 2011 and represented Austria in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Spokane-native Johnson is also an All-Star (2015) and has five years in the NHL, all with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stanley Cup: Three former Chiefs have hoisted the Stanley Cup. Ray Whitney, Brent Gilchrist and Jon Klemm each have one championship in their long careers in the NHL. Whitney, one of the most notable of the former Chiefs to play in the NHL, won the Stanley Cup in 2006 playing for the Carolina Hurricanes. Whitney wasn’t a stranger to the championship stage. He helped the Chiefs win their first Memorial Cup in 1991 and was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star team.
Longest career: Whitney, who was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the 1991 NHL draft, spent 22 years in the NHL, the most of any ex-Chiefs player. He spent six of those years in a Sharks jersey and five years playing for Carolina. Four former Chiefs – Bryan McCabe, Travis Green, Gilchrist and Klemm – have played in the NHL for 15 years.
All-Stars: Of the former Chiefs in the NHL, five of them have been named to an All-Star team. Not a surprise, Whitney was named an All-Star three times. Twice Whitney was listed on the first team (2000 and 2003), and in 2012, Whitney was named to the second team. Grabner (2011) and Johnson (2014) are the only two All-Stars of the current players in the NHL, both being named to the first team once. The Chiefs’ two other All-Stars were McCabe (2004) and Valeri Bure (2000).
First-round picks: Pat Falloon was the highest draft pick of any former Chief. He was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the 1991 NHL draft, receiving the second overall pick. The Chiefs have produced five other first-round picks, including current NHL players Grabner and Jared Cowen of the Colorado Avalanche.
Top scorers: Whitney tops the list of former Chiefs with 1,064 points scored in his career, including 385 goals. McCabe follows Whitney on that list with 528 points in his 15-year career. Current players have combined for 700 points scored, with Grabner leading the pack with 213, including 131 goals. Johnson barely trails Grabner with 211 points.
Goalies: The Chiefs have produced 11 goalies who have moved on to the NHL. Trevor Kidd, a first-round pick selected by the Calgary Flames in the 1990 draft, posted 9,223 saves, 140 wins and 19 shutouts in his 12-year NHL career. Kidd became one of the strongest of the NHL’s last line of defense in the 1996-1997 season when he had 1,275 saves for the Flames and notched four shutouts. Darcy Kuemper, of the Minnesota Wild, and Dustin Tokarski, of the Anaheim Ducks, are the only former chiefs currently goaltending in the NHL.
Players turned coaches: The majority of former Chiefs players who retired from the NHL have since coached hockey in some capacity. They are specialty coaches, assistants and some have been named head coaches; their experience in coaching ranges from the high school level to the NHL. Five have returned to coach in the Western Hockey League, including Jon Klemm and Kevin Sawyer who worked on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff. Seven ex-Chiefs have been involved with an NHL organization following their professional careers, with three of them currently working as NHL coaches. Travis Green, who spent 15 years in the NHL, was promoted to head coach of the Vancouver Canucks earlier this year. Wade Flaherty currently works as a goaltending coach for the Winnipeg Jets and Ian Herbers is entering his third year as an assistant coach for the Edmonton Oilers.
Chiefs in the NHL
Ray Whitney years in NHL: 1991-2014, drafted by San Jose
Bryan McCabe 1995-2011, N.Y. Islanders
Travis Green 1992-2007, N.Y. Islanders
Brent Gilchrist 1988-2003, Montreal
Jon Klemm 1991-2008, undrafter
Valeri Bure 1994-2004, Montreal
Pat Falloon 1991-2000, San Jose
Mick Vukota 1987-1998, undrafted
Jan Hrdina 1998-2006, Pittsburgh
Trevor Kidd 1991-2004, Calgary
Kurt Sauer 2002-2010, Colorado
Jamie McLennan 1993-2007, N.Y. Islanders
Brad Ference 1999-2007, Vancouver
Rick Berry 2000-2004, Colorado
Trent Whitfield 2000-2012, Boston
Darcy Wakaluk 1988-1997, Buffalo
Jason LaBarbera 2000-2015, N.Y. Rangers
Drayson Bowman 2009-2015, Carolina
Brantt Myhres 1994-2003, Tampa Bay
Tony Horacek 1989-1995, Philadelphia
Darcy Loewen 1989-1994, Buffalo
Wade Flaherty 1991-2003, Buffalo
Kevin Sawyer 1995-2003, undrafted
Jeff Sharples 1986-1989, Detroit
Marian Cisar 1999-2002, Los Angeles
Troy Gamble 1986-1992, Vancouver
Link Gaetz 1988-1992, Minnesota
Ian Herbers 1993-2000, Buffalo
Jason Podollan 1996-2002, Florida
Cam Severson 2002-2006, San Jose
Lynn Loyns 2002-2006
Rich Parent 1997-2001, undrafted
Mike Berger 1987-1989, Minnesota
Matt Keith 2003-2008, Chicago
Zenith Komarniski 1999-2004, Vancouver
Scott Bailey 1995-1997, Boston
Ty Jones 1998-2004, Chicago
Barry Brust 2006-2007, Minnesota
Kyle Rossiter 2001-2004, Florida
Roman Tvrdon 2003-2004, Washington
Jeff Rohlicek 1987-1989, Vancouver
Rocky Dundas 1989-1990, Montreal
Steve Junker 1993-1994, N.Y. Islanders
Jamie Linden 1994-1995, undrafted
Maxim Bets 1993-1994, St. Louis
Craig Reichert 1996-1997, Anaheim
Greg Leeb 2000-2001, undrafted
Paxton Schulte 1993-1997, Quebec (Colorado)
Dominik Uher 2014-2015, Pittsburgh
Doug Lynch 2003-2004, Edmonton
Justin Hocking 1993-1994 Los Angeles
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