Skip to main content

Legends of Team Canada: Stelio Zupancich


This is Stelio Zupancich. Very few people will remember that he represented Canada at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

Zupancich was raised by his father, Stelio Sr., a former pro soccer player back in Europe. He had divorced his wife when Stelio Jr. was just 2 years old.


Stelio Jr took to the ice rather than the soccer pitch. He completely loved the game.


"It meant everything to me," he said.


He went on to a strong junior career with the Oshawa Generals


The 5'9" 180lb forward left the Oshawa Generals and joined the Canadian national team in 1979-80. The speedy forward made the final Olympic cut and played in Lake Placid alongside the likes of Glenn Anderson, Randy Gregg, Paul MacLean, Tim Watters and Jim Nill. Zupancich was not just a depth player, either, I might add. He scored 4 points in 6 Olympic games. Canada failed to medal in that tournament.


 ''I have a closet full of Olympic souvenirs and Olympic clothes," Zupancich says, ''but I leave them there and never wear them. Sometimes, I open the door and look at them hanging there, but I don't put them on. I don't think a day goes by that I don't think about Lake Placid. I'm envious as hell of the Americans: envious because I realized then and I realize now that we were as good as they were, or better. We could have done it."


 'It took a long time," Zupancich said, ''to learn how to play the international game. To learn not to retaliate wasn't easy. It's tough to play without losing your cool against guys who'd sell their grandmothers to win. To take a bunch of college guys and do as well as we did was pretty remarkable, but nobody knows what the score was when we played the Soviets, because we lost."

Never drafted by a NHL team Zupancich went on to become a Hall of Fame player at the University of Toronto. He briefly played in Switzerland after being cut from the Canadian national team in a bid to compete in the 1984 Olympics, as well.


He returned to Toronto and became a banker, working his way up to a Vice President with the TD Bank.


Years later he was in the headlines once again as the result of a generous gift from his birth mother. She had won the lottery and gave him $2 million, much to the chagrin of the rest of the mother's family who had no idea she had another son from a previously failed marriage. This all came out in trials after his mother mysteriously died. Her long time husband, Dr. Joseph Roncaioli, was found guilty of manslaughter.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M