1979: Mike Gartner
Drafted by: Washington Capitals
1,432 NHL Games Played
0 Stanley Cups
7 All Star Games
The greatest player to never win a Stanley Cup? Definitely the fastest. It took 20 years for his fastest skater record to be broken at the All Star Game by Detroit’s Dylan Larkin. Gartner wasn’t just rapid, he was also a great shooter and regularly embarrassed blue lines all over North America.
Gartner was too young to turn pro in the NHL, so he was originally signed by the Cincinnati Stingers, before the WHA and NHL then merged and the Stingers disbanded. The Capitals drafted Gartner in 1979 and would get 10 seasons, 397 goals and 392 assists from him.
Despite being nearly a point-per-game player in the post-season, the Caps just couldn’t bring home the silverware, and in March 1989, Gartner was traded to Minnesota alongside Larry Murphy for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse. A trade that benefited neither team as although there were strong names involved, the Caps and North Stars still weren’t able to meet expectations.
Gartner’s stint with Minnesota was short, and despite playing some of his most productive hockey in MN, in 1990 the right winger was traded to the Rangers for Ulf Dahlen and a draft pick. In the early 90s, the Blueshirts were looking to bring home the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. Gartner was added to bolster an already powerful roster and finish the job where others had failed. In 1994, Gartner’s 52 point season helped drive the Rangers and the team powered through the playoffs and beat Vancouver in seven games to bring home the cup. Unfortunately for Gartner, despite a strong season, he was traded away just before the end of the season, missing out on getting to lift the trophy.
Gartner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.
That’s everyone from the 1970s. Who do you think was the best pick of the decade? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter!