February 06, 2016

Mark Pederson

Some of the best Western Hockey League players in the late 1980s included Joe Sakic, Theoren Fleury, Mike Modano and Trevor Linden

Another WHL superstar at that time was Mark Pederson.  A teammate of Linden's with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Pederson was a goal scoring hero on back-to-back Memorial Cup championships and with Canada's 1988 victorious World Juniors team.

Pederson played four full seasons in Medicine Hat, notching at least 42 goals each year. He seemingly only improved come clutch time in the playoffs. In two seasons Medicine Hat won it all, he scored scored 32 goals in 36 games, including the championship winning goal in 1988.

After such a storied junior career, Pederson seemed destined for NHL stardom like his peers. But sometimes things do not always work out that way.

Pederson was Montreal's first round pick in 1986 (15th overall). The big left winger would go on to play a respectable 169 career NHL games, mostly with Philadelphia. He scored 35 career goals and 85 career points. 

But much of his career was spent in the minor leagues and even Europe, left on the outside looking in as far as the NHL was concerned. Skating speed was his hindrance. 

Yet there was never any hint of disappointment from Pederson.

 "Career-wise and everything else, I'm satisfied at my age with what I've accomplished," he said. "I've won championships and had some quality years. It's not all about just coming to the rink and putting your skates on. You have dreams and aspirations of becoming an NHL player, and I was able to attain that goal and get there." 

 "I can't complain. My career as a whole could have been better. In other ways, it could have been worse." 

Playing in Europe was definitely a career highlight for Pederson.

 "It's an experience I'll never forget," he said "We tried to make the most of it. It was a chance to live in different cultures. A lot of people don't have that opportunity. I looked at Europe as a new challenge and went over there for seven years and had a pretty good career over there. I don't doubt that decision." 

Unlike most former NHLers who go to Europe, Pederson returned to the minor leagues after his long stay overseas. He had three very offensively successful seasons playing with the San Diego Gulls of the IHL.

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