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August 22, 2013

Dan Ratushny

Dan Ratushny was an interesting defenseman who I kept waiting to catch on in the National Hockey League. He never did and I've never fully understood why.

Ratushny was a top prospect. The Winnipeg Jets drafted him 25th overall in 1989. He was a star at Cornell University, twice earning All American status all while earning an Ivy League degree in Economics and being a noted piano player.

The defenseman was a strong skater and good puck skills. We watched him closely on the national stage where he was a member of Canada's gold medal-winning World Junior squad in 1990 and of Canada's silver medal winning team at the 1992 Olympics.

Following the Olympics he was expected to make the jump to the NHL but for whatever reason the Winnipeg Jets could not get him signed. He finished the 1992 season in Switzerland and spent most of the 1992-93 season playing in Fort Wayne of the IHL.

Towards the end of the 1993 season Winnipeg traded Ratushny to the Vancouver Canucks for a 9th round draft pick. I thought the Canucks had the steal of the year. Soon we all did as he was called up for his first NHL game. He assisted on a Geoff Courtnall goal and levelled Luc Robitaille in a memorable hit.

A lot of outsiders pencilled Ratushny into the Canucks defensive rotation for the following season but he had a poor training camp and all but disappeared. He played several seasons in the minors before continuing his career overseas, both as a player and as a coach.

Dan's sister Kim was also a notable Canadian hockey player.

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