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Hockey Heroes: Kjell Samuelsson

Kjell Samuelsson announced that he would retire the same day that Wayne Gretzky made his retirement a 99% certainty. Needless to say, not many noticed that Sameulsson had called it quits. Kjell played in more than 800 games with 4 different NHL teams. He scored a career total of 48 goals, 138 assists and 186 points. Now Gretzky may have scored more points in 5 different seasons than Samuelsson did in his entire career, but Kjell Samuelsson deserves to be remembered too.

Kjell was a steady, dependable defenseman. He was a gigantic player, towering above his opponents with a once- unfathomable size of 6'6" and 235lbs. For much of his career he was the biggest player in the National Hockey League. Though not a graceful skater, Kjell made up for his lack of foot speed with his long stride, but lacked agility. He also had very limited puck skills. He wasn't overly physical but he didn't need to be either. His natural strength and reach enabled him to excel as a defensive stalwart.

A native of Sweden, Kjell was drafted by the New York Rangers 119th overall in 1984. He didn't cross the pond until 1985-86 when he played primarily with the Rangers AHL farm team, appearing in just NHL contests. The next season Kjell made the team but after 30 games was shipped with a 2nd round draft choice to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for goaltender Bob Froese.

Kjell was best know as a Flyer where he played in parts of 9 seasons in two separate stints. His first stint came from 1987-1991 when Kjell was in his prime. He enjoyed his best NHL seasons in this time as the Flyers twice went to the Stanley Cup finals. He established career-bests for assists (24) and points (30) while leading the club with a +28 rating. He also represented the Flyers in the All-Star Game. Kjell also represented Sweden at the World Championships and the 1991 Canada Cup.

Kjell was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 as part of the big traded that saw Rick Tocchet and Mark Recchi switch teams. Kjell played an important part of the Penguins 1992 Stanley Cup championship. Kjell played 3 more seasons in Pittsburgh, who also dressed unrelated countryman Ulf Samuelsson..

Samuelsson returned to returned to Philadelphia for 3 years in 1995. In the summer of 1998 the Flyers did not renew his contract and Kjell joined the Tampa Bay Lightning for one season before retiring at the age of 40.

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