The state of Montana has never been a hotbed for elite hockey talent. Only two Montana residents have ever played in the National Hockey League in it's first 100 years.
One was Pat Dwyer, a six year veteran with the Carolina Hurricanes who later played in Europe. He was a native of Great Falls, even though he was born in Spokane, Washington.
The original Montana NHLer was Bill Lindsay. He played a lucky 777 career NHL games in the 1990s and early 2000s, most notably with the Florida Panthers. He now works on the Panthers television broadcasts
Lindsay was born in Big Fork, and to this day often summers back in Montana. But he actually grew up in Fernie, British Columbia. Many sources incorrectly list Fernie as his birthplace.
Growing up in BC allowed for Lindsay to find much more opportunity to rise through the hockey ranks. He became a standout Junior B player with the Vernon Lakers before jumping to the Tri City Americans of the Western Hockey League for three seasons.
After scoring 120 times in the WHL Lindsay caught the eye of NHL scouts. The Quebec Nordiques drafted him 103rd overall in the 1991 NHL draft.
Lindsay spent his first two seasons struggling to establish himself with the Nordiques before he was claimed by the Florida Panthers in the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft. It turned out to be the best thing for Lindsay's hockey career.
Lindsay went on to play six solid seasons with the Panthers, highlighted by Panthers' unexpected march to the Stanley Cup finals in 1996.
In many ways Lindsay epitomized the typical Florida Panthers forward at that time. He was a strong support player who could be counted on to pop in 10-12 goals and 28-30 points. He thought defense first, partly out of necessity. Though he had a hard shot he had limited offensive ability. He was a solid if unimaginative checker who benefited nicely from Florida's four line system.
Lindsay later bounced around unsuccessfully with Calgary, San Jose, Montreal and Atlanta, with a one-season return to Florida, but never quite found the same degree of success.
Lindsay finished his career in the minor leagues and Europe before hanging up the blades in 2007.