July 26, 2016

Lou Nistico

Leaping Louie Nistico only played three games in the National Hockey League, though the Thunder Bay native did have a long career in pro hockey.

The London Knights junior star was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars 105th overall in 1973, but he was also drafted by the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association.

"I picked the Toros and I think that was greatest time of my life," he said years later. "We had mostly young guys like Pat Hickey, Wayne Dillon and Mark Napier. the next year we added some older players like Carl Brewer and Jim Dorey, but they had more kid in them than anybody."

"We were lucky because we had a good owner in Johnny Bassett. He was one of the few who never missed a pay day and honoured everything."

Yet, like so many teams in the volatile WHA, the Toros could not survived. The team moved to Birmingham, Alabama, of all places, in 1976.

Nistico enjoyed his time with the Baby Bulls. He had his best season with 20 goals and 56 points.

The Bulls traded Nistico to the Edmonton Oilers, but he balked at that move. He decided to retire on return home to Ontario.

Nistico was playing senior hockey when his old coach in Birmingham, Pat Kelly, go a job coaching with the NHL's Colorado Rockies. Kelly convinced Nistico to join him in Colorado, but after three games Nistico had hurt his leg. He decided to retire for good after that.

Nistico played and coached senior hockey for a few years. He played on a Brantford team that reached the Allan Cup finals. He also was part of a team from Welland, Ontario that had the opportunity to tour Austria and Yugoslavia - another highlight of his career.

Nistico later settled in Ottawa where he was a sales manager for a brewery. He also became heavily involved as an executive in a local junior league.

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