July 17, 2016

Nick Wasnie

Winnipeger Nick Wasnie was a hockey trailblazer in more than one way.

Most notably, Wasnie was the first player of Ukrainian descent to play in the National Hockey League. A long list of such hockey talent would soon follow - Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Bill Mosienko, to name a few - as Canada's prairie provinces had a large Ukrainian population.

Wasnie was also believed to have been the first player in NHL history to wear the number 13. The number was anything but unlucky for him.

Wasnie, who wore the number previously with the Winnipeg Maroons, was a forward with the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1927-28 season when he wore #13 for a few games - some sources say 14, most say 15 and some say 16. All the sources agree that he did not get much ice time but he did manage to score his first NHL goal. No other Black Hawk player would wear 13 again until the turn of the century.

Wasnie soon moved to Montreal, switching to number 14 and finding regular employment. From 1929 through 1932. He was often the forgotten winger of the Montreal's dynamic top line featuring superstars Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat.

Those two may have lit up the scoreboard night in and night out and got all the glory, but Wasnie was no slouch either. Described as a skilled stickhandler with a powerful shot, Wasnie scored 31 goals and 56 points in his time in Montreal. He also contributed six goals and eleven points in a combined 16 playoff games to help Montreal win back to back Stanley Cup championships in 1930 and 1931.

Wasnie would play full seasons with the New York Americans and then the Ottawa Senators in 1932-33 and 1933-34, respectively. He moved with the Senators when the franchise relocated to St. Louis in 1934-35, though he only appeared in - ironically enough - 13 games.

Wasnie continued playing in the minor leagues until the end of the decade, most notably with the Kansas City Greyhounds of the American Hockey Association.

Wasnie split his post-hockey days between Manitoba and Minnesota.

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