September 25, 2015

Tony Camazzola

Tony Camazzola was a tough defenseman who battled a long time in the minor leagues. He did get into three NHL games, but a training camp dust up with the team's star rookie may have hurt his NHL career.

Camazzola was born on September 11th, 1962. He and his younger brother Jim grew up playing the game, dreaming of making it to the NHL. Both did, but each for only three contests.

Tony's journey meant leaving home at a young age. In 1980 he headed to Manitoba to play with the Brandon Wheat Kings for two seasons. The defenseman gained a reputation as a physical rearguard who was not afraid to drop the gloves. He was popular with the fans and his teammates, and served as team captain in 1981-82.

The Washington Capitals took a chance on him with the 194th overall draft pick in 1980. They liked his spunk and snarl, but not so much his skating. They tried to convert him to a forward.

In training camp in 1982 Camazzola did exactly what all aspiring prospects are told to do - get noticed by the coach. Story has it that in one particular scrimmage Camazzola crashed the net a little too exuberantly, drawing the ire of the Capitals star first round pick from earlier that summer. They began chopping each other with sticks and it quickly escalated to a full fight, with Tony coming out on top.

The prized prospects' name was Scott Stevens.

Management apparently told Camazzola not to do that again and he was demoted to the minor leagues, never to return to the NHL again. He played a couple of seasons with the AHL Hershey Bears before joining the IHL's Fort Wayne Komets until the end of the decade.

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