FanPost

Islanders of Yesteryear: Mike Kaszycki

Yeah, I'll be honest -- I have no idea nor memory of who Mike Kaszycki is (Do chime in, if you do -- I always appreciate historical thoughts). I think he went on to make a name for himself coaching basketball or something.

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Cheap similarly Polish-sounding-name puns aside, Kaszycki's Islanders career was brief but not bad, according to Legends of Hockey. Good enough to get the 5'9", 185-pounder a Topps card, anyway. The Islanders drafted him in 1976's 2nd round, 32nd overall -- that same year, the WHA Whalers drafted him 38th overall, in that league's 4th round. A one-year apprenticeship in the CHL followed, and he was up with the Isles after just six AHL games in 1977-78.

He "registered 42 points in 58 games playing for the most part with Bob Bourne" -- whose son got some Bridgeport time and is still a minor league chronicler and suitor of fellow Islanders royalty offspring -- and Bob Nystrom. "In 1978-79 [Kaszycki] was effective as the second line center behind Bryan Trottier while forming an effective partnership with Bill Harris and John Tonelli."

Alas, Kaszycki went from the verge of hockey paradise with the Last Hockey Dynasty to the pits of hockey purgatory: In 79-80, the Isles' first Cup year, he was sentenced to Washington in exchange for good ol' Gord Lane, who of course became one of the "Core of Four" to win all four Cups with the Islanders. Just 28 games into Kaszycki's D.C. career, the Capitals flipped him to Toronto, where the purgatory worsened:

"The Maple Leafs were a disorganized bunch during Kaszycki's time with the club. He was shipped back and forth between Toronto and the club's various farm teams. In 1981-82 he led the AHL with 118 points to claim the John B. Sollenberger trophy."

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A few years of Harold Ballard's madness was enough: Kaszycki did what any adventurous minor pro would do. He figured, if he's going to get paid to play non-NHL hockey, might as well do it some place really cool rather than, say, Rochester (no offense, Rochester). So he went to Switzerland for three seasons -- departing as the AHL's third-highest scorer -- and even became a Swiss citizen in 1985.

I've always figured, if you have the life of a not-quite-NHL-quality hockey player, why not chase that route? Europe, baby: Short seasons, lots of skiing, good wine and beer, and lots of places to explore. Sounds like that's what Kaszycki went for, and never looked back.

Resources

And one more pic, from the "Gretzky rookie year" of OPC/Topps:

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via www.vintagecardprices.com

<em>Submitted FanPosts do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or SB Nation. If you're reading this statement, you pass the fine print legalese test. Four stars for you.</em>

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