Roman Times: Six Degrees of SeparationPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Way back in the NHL’s inaugural season of 1917-18, a guy named Cy Denneny skated for the original Ottawa Senators. More than a decade later, when Denneny was finishing up his NHL career with the Boston Bruins in 1928-29, one of his teammates was a rookie goaltender named Tiny Thopmson. Denneny and Thompson both were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959. When Thompson’s own NHL career came to a close with Detroit in 1939-40, young blueliner “Black” Jack Stewart was one of the defensemen skating in front of him. A decade later, Stewart was winding down his career in the league alongside a young right wing named Gordie Howe. In the late 1960s when Howe was pushing 40, he had a Red Wings teammate named Paul Henderson, who is best known for scoring the goal that won the 1972 Summit Series for Team Canada. When Henderson’s career was nearing its end with the 1978-79 Birmingham Bulls of the World Hockey Association, rookie defenseman Rob Ramage was one of his teammates. When the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning first took to the NHL ice back in 1992-93, Ramage was the oldest player on the Lightning’s roster. Among his teammates was 18-year-old defenseman Roman Hamrlik, the youngest player in the NHL for that entire season. Tonight, Hamrlik skates in the 1,315th game of his NHL career, one more than longtime NHL pivot Bobby Holik. By night’s end, Hamrlik will have skated in more NHL games than any other Czech born and trained player in NHL history. Denneny. Thompson. Stewart. Howe. Henderson. Ramage. Hamrlik. There are just six degrees of separation from Hamrilk to Denneny, from this very day in 2011 to the birth of the NHL nearly a century ago. Some years from now, when the league has been around for more than a century, maybe someone will be pointing to the seven degrees of separation between Denneny and a wizened veteran such as John Carlson or Marcus Johansson.
One quick follow-up item to yesterday's post on Roman Hamrlik, who last night became the all-time games played leader in the NHL among Czech born and trained players. Here's the NHL's Central Scouting Report on the teenaged Hamrlik from back in his draft year of 1992: “Played on the Czech Junior