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December 01, 2015

Dave Chyzowski

What went wrong with Dave Chyzowski?

Dave was a highly touted junior player from the Kamloops Blazers organization in the late 1980s. He possessed an Al MacInnis-like shot that simply over-powered goaltenders. However that was his only trick in his bag of hockey magic.

"He's never had to work as hard as some to score because his shot is so overpowering. He's come to rely on that so much. This guy can literally scare goalies." said an unnamed scout in The Hockey News.

"He's a little lazy. He's either going to be boom or bust."

How right that scout was. Too bad for Dave it was bust instead of boom.

Chyzowski, the younger brother of minor league players Ron and Barry, was nonetheless drafted second overall n the 1989 Entry Draft by the New York Islanders. Only Mats Sundin went higher in perhaps the weakest draft in NHL history.

Chyzowski was quickly labelled as Mike Bossy's replacement. Bossy of course is one of the greatest snipers in NHL history. That's a lot of pressure for a kid out of junior hockey to achieve.

"(Legendary Islanders head coach) Al Arbour used to call me Boss all the time," said Chyzowski prior to playing the Manitoba Moose last night. "I didn't realize, at the time, probably how much pressure was being put on me or I was putting on myself.

"Every time I did something wrong or I did something right he'd say, 'Oh, Mike Bossy wouldn't do that' or `Mike Bossy did it just like that.' If I scored a goal, he'd say in the paper that `It was just like I had a young guy before here named Mike Bossy.'

"It was kind of strange because I probably thought about it more than I should've. Maybe it affected me, maybe it didn't, but I don't think as a coach you need to be comparing 17- or 18-years-olds to a Hall of Famer like that."

Dave never stuck in the NHL, and even had trouble producing at the minor league level. He was called up a number of times, playing 126 games in the NHL. But it wasn't until 1995-96, 6 years after he was drafted, that Dave showed he could score at a high rate in the minor leagues. Dave scored 15 goals and 31 points in his NHL time.

His failure to add more to his game than his shot was his real downfall. He wasn't a good enough skater but did add elevate his physical game to new heights in the minors later in his career.

Dave will go down in history as one of the greatest Kamloops Blazers of all time. He will also go down as one of the biggest busts in NHL Entry Draft history. Despite that, Chyzowski has kept it all in perspective.

"I'm really happy about the way my life has gone. I've had a pretty good hockey career. I've made a lot of money doing it and I've been fairly healthy and I can't complain. If that's being a first-round flop then there could be a lot worse things go on."

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