November 02, 2015

Mike Lenarduzzi

Most people will recall that Eric Lindros held out from the NHL team that drafted him and demanded to be traded before playing one game in the NHL. However what is ofter forgotton is that Eric Lindros did the exact same thing a couple of years earlier when he was about to enter the Ontario Hockey League as a 16 year old junior.

Lindros was drafted 1st overall in the 1989-90 OHL draft by the Soo Greyhounds. However the Lindros family wanted Eric to stay closer to the family home in Toronto and Eric never reported to the Greyhounds. The Greyhounds subsquently traded "The Big E" to the Oshawa Generals in exchange for Joe Busillo, Mike Lenarduzzi, Mike Decoff, Jason Denomme, some draft picks and approximately $80,000 cash.

The deal worked out well for both teams. The Generals won the Memorial Cup in Eric’s first season and the Greyhounds went on to appear in 3 straight Memorial Cups from 1991-1993 and won the Memorial Cup in 1993. However unlike the NHL Lindros trade which included big names like Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Mike Ricci and more, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would know anything about any of the players mentioned in the OHL trade.

In fact, only goalie Mike Lenarduzzi went on to play at the NHL level, and that was only a pair of short stints as an emergency minor league call up. While the rest of the players gave up on their professional careers relatively quickly, Lenarduzzi would bounce around the minor leagues with several teams in several leagues.

Lenarduzzi was the main component heading to Sault Ste Marie in exchange for Lindros. He was considered to be a top goaltending prospect by NHL scouts and the Greyhounds hoped he would help them achieve great things. His draft status was helped greatly by being the centerpiece in the trade for Lindros. Scouts paid more attention to him and he played well in the final 20 games with the Greyhounds that year.

Lenarduzzi was a 3rd round draft pick (57th overall) by the Hartford Whalers in 1990.

However Lenarduzzi never really took his game to the next plateau at the OHL level, which left some scouts unexcited about his pro chances. Those scouts were right, as he struggle greatly at the AHL and IHL levels. In fact it wasn't until he reached the lowly Colonial Hockey League that he showed much in terms confidence.

It was with the Whalers that Lenarduzzi appeared in his NHL games, 4 in total. The first three came in 1992-93. He was credited with 1 win, 1 loss and 1 tie in 168 minutes of action, giving up 9 goals. He appeared in 21 minutes of a game in 1993-94 as well, surrendering 1 goal.

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