January 25, 2012
Steve Payne: Bringing The Pain
Payne, a big left winger with the Minnesota North Stars from 1978 through 1988, blew out his knee during the 1985-86 season. The final three seasons of his solid career were filled with surgeries, re-injuries to the knee, and frustration.
Steve was big at 6'2" and 205lbs. He was a bit like John Leclair, although he was criticized for underachieving. He broke through in his sophomore season in 1979-80 with a 42 goal campaign and a strong playoff with 14 points in 15 games. But he reached his true zenith in the playoffs of 1980-81. After a setback in the regular season with "just" 30 goals, he exploded with 17 goals and 29 points in 19 playoff games as he helped lead the Stars to a Cinderella appearance against the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup finals.
After seeing Payne play so masterfully at such a high level throughout the playoffs, great expectations were placed on his shoulders. If he could have played that way consistently over a full season, there'd be no doubt he'd be an all star and perhaps the game's best LW at that time.