March 07, 2014
Eric Weinrich, he of the rare yellow tinted visor, played 1157 NHL games. Hitting the 1000 game mark was his favorite milestone of his career.
“I do not think there are more than a couple hundred guys who have done it and coming out of (high school hockey in) Maine for me that is kind of special because the hockey there has never been that big of a thing,” said Weinrich. “To hit 1,000 games coming out of Maine high school hockey would be kind of a neat thing for me.
Eric Weinrich was born in Virginia but grew up in Maine. He idolized the Boston Bruins and especially Bobby Orr. As a youth his most cherished possession was the Bobby Orr poster he had hanging on the wall above his bed.
After playing high school hockey in Maine, Weinrich’s career path took him to the University of Maine Black Bears, coached by Shawn Walsh, for two seasons before he joined the U.S. National Team for the 1988 Winter Olympic tournament in Calgary. Weinrich was drafted 32nd overall by the New Jersey Devils and he joined the Devils on a full time basis in 1990.
At 6-1, 215-pounds, Weinrich bounced around the NHL but he was always cast as a reliable and responsible defenseman. He was a perfect second pairing dman who sometimes was shoehorned into a support role with the top guy.
“I've played with some pretty good defencemen and I have learned from those guys how to play positionally. Now it is just being in the right place. I think playing on a good team this year has helped my career, too. I see guys I have played with like Chris Chelios, Gary Suter and Scott Stevens and I am not putting myself in their category, but I think if I just play a simple game, I can keep playing. Those guys are older than me and they are still plugging along and they are the top defencemen on their team, so if I just keep plugging along, I think I can keep going.”
Weinrich was a good skater with nice acceleration. He stealthily could jump in on the attack. He was never much of an offensive threat, scoring 70 career goals and 388 points. He made strong, hard passes and low shots, which earned him power play time.
He was better known as the support player for a more offensively gifted defensive partner. As his career went on he matured into a composed defeneder in both ends and became a noted penalty killer and shot blocker..
Physically Weinrich was never considered to be an overtly physical player, which, for a player of his size, earned him unfair criticism early in his career. He was never soft, but just not mean. He was strong in one on one situations.
Eric Weinrich never won a Stanley Cup, which he counts as his biggest regret from his playing career. He had the bad luck of being on many teams that either missed the playoffs entirely or were out in the first round.
As a result, Weinrich became very much a regular with the United States national team. He participated in nine World Championships as well as 2 world juniors, 2 Canada Cups/World Cups and the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Sadly, Weinrich never tasted the ultimate joy of victory in the international scene either.