May 26, 2016

Luciano Borsato

Luciano Borsato was always a long shot to make it in the National Hockey League.

But play he did - over 200 games with the Winnipeg Jets in the 1990s.

Undersized but undeterred, Borsato was drafted right out of high school. The Winnipeg Jets selected him 135th overall in 1984, drawn by his combination of determination and skill.

The Jets allowed Borsato to develop with four full seasons at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. When he wasn't dominating the ECAC scoring lists, he was busy earning a degree in marketing.

The office job would have to wait, however. Upon graduation Borsato tried his luck with the pro game.

For Borsato that actually meant heading to Europe with the Jets' blessing. While he played a handful of games in the American Hockey League, he actually played with Tampere of Finland mostly. He would finish 4th overall in league scoring

Upon his return, Borsato suffered a serious groin and hip injury that would cost him one-and-a half seasons with no games played at all. He returned to action with Winnipeg’s farm team, the Moncton Hawks, in December, 1990. After a solid season in Moncton (’90-91), he was called up to play his first NHL game for Winnipeg, in Calgary, in March 1991, where he recorded his first NHL point, an assist on a Danton Cole goal, assisted also by Randy Carlyle.

Borsato was a coach's favorite as he gave 100 percent effort on every shift. He willingly accepted his job as a role player and vowed never to be outworked. He became a tenacious checking specialist with modest offensive skills aside from a burst of well-timed raw speed.

In 203 NHL games, between 1991-1995, all with Winnipeg, Borsato recorded 35 goals, 55 assists for 90 points, including back-to-back 15 goal seasons. He also had the privilege of sharing a first row seat to Teemu Selanne’s amazing NHL Rookie Record of 76 goals in the 1992-93 season and still has an autographed stick as a cherished memory.

“I have fond memories of Winnipeg. Like most Canadian kids, playing in a Canadian NHL city was a dream for me. Winnipeggers loved the team and supported us enthusiastically — the playoff white-outs with over 16,000 fans showing their unity all dressed in white would send shivers down your spine,” Borsato said.

Soon after leaving Winnipeg in 1995 Borsato helped Tom Renney's Team Canada win the bronze medal at the 1995 World Championships. Wearing the Canadian national team jersey always ranked as one of Borsato's biggest accomplishments.

Borsato then went to Europe in 1995 and spent the next 7 years playing in Cologne, Helsinki and Davos (1999 Spengler Cup), finishing his 14 year pro career in 2002 after two years in Nuremberg.

In retirement Borsato operated his own online marketing firm and is an avid soccer enthusiast.

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