August 18, 2016

Clark Donatelli

Before he ever played a single game in the National Hockey League, Clark Donatelli had made quite the name for himself.

The Providence, Rhode Island native had been an all star (and business major) at Boston University. He participated in two world juniors and three world championships as well as with the 1988 American Olympic team.

Then he retired and sued the NHL while working for his father's construction company.

It was all part of a complicated and bitter ordeal where Donatelli tried to have himself declared as an unrestricted free agent. Donatelli was drafted by the Rangers back in 1984, but traded to Edmonton in 1986. Dontellli felt he should have been declared a free agent due to a technicality, which ultimately the NHL disagreed with.

The situation was resolved, sort of, when the NHL declared Donatelli to be Edmonton's property until the end of the 1988-89 season where he would then be eligible for unrestricted free agency. But the relationship between the Oilers and Donatelli became so strained that Donatelli sat out the entire season rather than sign a contract.

Donatelli would sign a three year deal with the Minnesota North Stars in the summer of 1989, but he would only play in 25 games with the Stars.

Donatelli recommitted to the US Olympic program for the 1991-92 season and was rewarded by being named as team captain of the Olympic team. Unfortunately USA lost the bronze medal game to Czechoslovakia.

Following the Olympics the Boston Bruins gave Donatelli a tryout, signing him for the rest of the season. In ten games he picked up one assist.

After a season playing with the Bruins farm team nicely placed at home in Providence, Donatelli continued his career as an independent minor league player until 1996.

He stayed in the game as a coach at the collegiate and minor league levels.

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