April 26, 2016

Nelson Emerson

Nelson Emerson was a hard working forward with plenty of puck skills.

Everything Emerson did on the ice was quick - be it his skating or his hands. Emerson was creative with the puck and an accomplished playmaker. He liked to emulate Wayne Gretzky by setting up behind the net and pass the puck out front into the slot.

Emerson had to find places on the ice to protect himself. He was small in stature at just five-foot-eleven and 175 pounds. Try as he might, his body just was not going to take all the heavy hitting to be found in the NHL.

But he offered so much natural talent that teams were not afraid to give him many opportunities - including killing penalties and playing the point on the power play.

The Hamilton, Ontario native grew up as a hockey star in Stratford. He passed over the chance to play junior hockey to attend Bowling Green University where he was named CCHA Freshman of the Year in 1987. As a senior he earned NCAA All American honors and earned a degree in sports management. In 178 career college games he scored an impressive 112 goals and 294 points.

It was an experience he truly valued.

"I got to experience what college was all about for four years. I graduated and got a degree. I enjoyed everything that college had to offer. I went to football and basketball games, and I met my wife there. My roommates, including Rob Blake and Ty (Eigner), and I lived the college life as it was supposed to be lived," he said.

The St. Louis Blues had drafted Emerson 44th overall back in 1985, they were finally rewarded when Emerson turned pro in 1990. After a season apprenticing in the minor leagues, Emerson emerged as a budding star with back-to-back 20 goal campaigns.

In September 1993 the Blues moved Emerson and Stephane Quintal to Winnipeg in exchange for veteran defenseman Phil Housley.

Emerson appeared to be destined to fulfill his offensive potential with the Jets. In his first season in Winnipeg he erupted for 33 goals and 74 points. He would suffer a bit of a set back in the 1994-95 lockout shortened campaign.

The Jets moved Emerson to Hartford prior to the start of the 1995-96 season. Emerson had a nice 29 goal, 29 assist season in his first season, but injuries derailed his 1996-97 season when he scored just nine times.

Emerson moved with the Whalers to Carolina when the team became the Hurricanes in 1997. He returned to the 20 goal level for the final time of his career. Emerson would then bounce around the league playing with Chicago, Ottawa, Atlanta and Los Angeles, where he was reunited with his old Bowling Green teammate Rob Blake.

Emerson retired in 2002. In 771 games he scored 195 goals, 293 assists and 488 points.

Emerson would become an assistant coach in Los Angeles for several seasons after he retired. He served as a video coach and development coach before getting full coaching staff recognition.

Though he never won the Stanley Cup as a player, he did win it as a coach with the Kings. He was able to bring the Stanley Cup home for a day.

"It was great, I had it for an evening in my hometown. We had a parade, which was excellent for a small town. The whole town rallied around it. And then I took the Cup back to my house with family and friends. I had my roommates from Bowling Green all came down for the night. We got a picture of just the BG guys with the cup, which was awesome. It was really special."

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