February 06, 2016
Dave Karpa was a grate defenseman.
This six-foot-one, 200 pound defenseman played with a chip on his shoulder on most shifts. He seemed to be perpetually in a bad mood. Which was far from the truth, because Karpa thoroughly enjoyed playing very aggressively. He was highly competitive and would stand up for any of his teammates. He was not afraid to take on all comers even if he did not always win his fights. You could count on him to show up.
The defensive defenseman rarely got involved on the offensive side of things, but you could count on him also to provide a steady defensive presence for 15 to 18 minutes a night. He was far from the fleetest of skaters, but he made up for that with a sound understanding of his positioning and his limitations. Playing within those limitations made him more than just a tough guy but a regular player.
A fourth round pick (68th overall) by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. The Regina native played two years at Ferris State University (in Michigan) before leaving school to turn pro.
Karpa would play in 78 games for the Nordiques over the next four seasons, but mostly apprenticed in the minor leagues.
It was not until a trade took him to Anaheim in 1995 that Karpa found full time employment in the National Hockey League. He spent four years battling for the Ducks and establishing his reputation around the league as a tough as nails defender.
That reputation helped Karpa stay in the NHL for another five seasons - three with Carolina and parts of two with the New York Rangers.
All said Dave Karpa played in 557 NHL games, scoring 18 goals, 98 points and 1374 penalty minutes in his career.
Karpa would play three more seasons in the minor leagues before retiring in 2006. He originally landed a job with ICU medical devices in Chicago. But he would relocate back to Michigan where he and his former Ferris State defense partner John Gruden became minor league coaches with the Flint Firebirds.