Canadian hockey player
Paul Kariya, the talented young left wing who is the captain of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, may be best known for his courteous behavior on the ice. However, the two-time winner of the Lady Byng trophy, given to the most gentlemanly player in the National Hockey League (NHL), is also a prodigious scorer and gifted play-maker. Although a serious concussion, a contract dispute, and the Mighty Ducks' in troubles fielding other skilled players have at times hampered Kariya's career, he continues to be a rising star within the NHL.
Ambassador for the Game
Kariya was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he learned to play not only hockey but also lacrosse, rugby, tennis, golf, and basketball. As an amateur, he played for the University of Maine, leading them to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in 1993 and becoming the first freshman ever to win the Hobey Baker award. Although drafted by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 1993, Kariya won a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics and a gold at the 1994 world championships with Team Canada before beginning to play with the Mighty Ducks in the 1994-95 season.
One of Kariya's claims to fame that first season with the Mighty Ducks was his G-rated life off of the ice. Despite having a $6.5 million contract, rather than getting his own place to live he rented a room from a family in Orange County, California. "I've never cooked," Kariya told Sports Illustrated writer Leigh Montville. "I don't
own any furniture. It's my first year in the National Hockey League, and there are going to be things I have to learn every night. I just decided I didn't have time to go looking for a condominium or a house, to go through all that and then have to learn all of those other things on the ice. Living with a family seemed to be the right thing for me."
Kariya's good image, on and off the ice, has prompted many to suggest that he should become an ambassador for the game of hockey, which, with its recent expansion into unfamiliar southern and western territory, particularly needs a media-friendly face to introduce potential new fans to the game. Kariya is aware of this suggestion, but is not necessarily enthusiastic about the role. "I'm going to try to be the best Paul Kariya that can be, wherever that leads. Trying to promote the game is part of it, but if you're not performing on the ice, they won't want to talk to you, so I have to take care of that part first. I don't get caught up in it, but I understand my responsibility," he said to Sporting News 's Sherry Ross.
Injuries and Other Problems
Kariya's and the Mighty Ducks' best season may have been 1996-97. In that year, with the dynamic duo of Kariya on left wing and his good friend Teemu Selanne on right wing, as well as the inspiring coaching of Ron Wilson, the Mighty Ducks made it to the playoffs for the first time in the club's history. Selanne and Kariya were the second and third highest scorers, respectively, in the NHL that season, and although the team was knocked out in the second round of the playoffs, the future looked bright. "I've played with a lot of great players, guys like Eric Lindros , and we've had good chemistry," Kariya told Sports Illustrated reporter Austin Murphy at the time, "but not the kind of chemistry Teemu and I have. It's so much fun playing the game when you know exactly what the other person's going to do."
However, Kariya's career did not go smoothly after that. In 1997, he missed the first thirty-two games of the season because of a contract dispute. Then he suffered a major concussion on February 1, 1998, when Chicago Blackhawks player Gary Suter cross-checked him on the jaw. Kariya spent months recovering, missing the last twenty-eight games of the NHL season that year as well as the Nagano Olympics. For a while it looked as if Kariya's career might be over, but he was finally cleared to begin practicing again that August.
The Mighty Ducks, who performed miserably after losing their leading scorer, signed enforcer Stu Grimson, known as the "Grim Reaper," and assigned him with making opposing players think twice about taking cheap shots at Kariya. Kariya himself, painfully aware of how close he had been to losing his career after that concussion, said that he would be less hesitant to assert himself in on-ice conflicts. However, the rest of the Mighty Ducks lineup was coming apart. Coach Ron Wilson went to the Washington Capitals after the 1997 playoffs, and Selanne was traded to San Jose during the 2000-01 season. By the 2001-02 season, Kariya's $10 million per year contract was almost thirty percent of the Mighty Ducks' $35 million total payroll, and opposing teams had discovered that all they needed to do to beat the Mighty Ducks was to prevent Kariya from scoring.
"The Best Job I Can Possibly Do"
Although Kariya's statistics in recent years have not been as spectacular as those at the beginning of his career, he is still working hard to improve himself and the team he captains. During the 2000-2001 season, Kariya explained his philosophy of the game to Hockey Digest interviewer Ashley Jude Collie: "I try to make myself a better player each time I go out on the ice. Each game presents situations and plays from which you can learn and make yourself a better hockey player. I focus on what I have to work on every night and just have a goal in mind for that game.… I want to do the best job I can possibly do. That's just he way I was brought up and the way that I feel that I can achieve the most success and the most enjoyment in life."
|1974||Born October 16 in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Tetsuhiko and Sharon Kariya|
|1992||Begins attending the University of Maine|
|1993||Selected fourth overall in the National Hockey League draft|
|1997||Misses the first 32 games of the season because of a contract dispute|
|1998||Misses last 28 games of the NHL season and the Olympics after suffering a major concussion in a game February 1|
|2000||Garners the most votes for a North American player for the All-Star Game|
Awards and Accomplishments
|1992||Named Junior A Player of the Year|
|1993||National Collegiate Athletic Association hockey championship|
|1993||Becomes first freshman to win the Hobey Baker award for best American collegiate hockey player|
|1994||Wins Olympic silver medal in hockey|
|1996||Wins Lady Byng Trophy for most gentlemanly play|
|1997||Wins Lady Byng Trophy for most gentlemanly play|
|2002||Wins MAC Award for work with children's charities|
|2002||Wins Olympic gold medal in hockey|
Address: c/o Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, 2695 Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92806.
Betchel, Mark. "18: Anaheim Mighty Ducks." Sports Illustrated (October 16, 2000): 108.
Betchel, Mark. "19: Anaheim Mighty Ducks." Sports Illustrated (October 14, 2002): 102.
Bisheff, Steve. "The Mighty Duck." Sporting News (February 24, 1997): 27.
Collie, Ashley Jude. "Getting Better All the Time." Hockey Digest (February, 2001): 18.
Farber, Michael. "Goal Oriented." Sports Illustrated (December 22, 1997): 80-82.
Farber, Michael. "Stuck Duck." Sports Illustrated (December 3, 2001): 58.
Farber, Michael. "Two Different Worlds." Sports Illustrated (January 26, 1998): 66-69.
Farber, Michael. "A Welcome Sight." Sports Illustrated (October 19, 1998): 58.
Guss, Greg. "Kariya Town." Sport (April, 1998): 96-99.
McManus, John. "Nice on Ice." Boys' Life (November, 1997): 38-40.
Montville, Leigh. "A Duck's Tale." Sports Illustrated (February 13, 1995): 62-65.
Murphy, Austin. "Heating Up." Sports Illustrated. (April 28, 1997): 38-41.
Ross, Sherry. "Back in the Driver's Seat." The Sporting News (November 16, 1998): 62.
Wigge, Larry. "Kariya's Talent Never Wavers." The Sporting News (February 11, 2002): 43.
Hobey Baker Award. http://www.hobeybaker.com/ (November 13, 2002).
Mighty Ducks Web site. http://www.mightyducks.com/ (November 13, 2002).
Sketch by Julia Bauder
|AMD: Anaheim Mighty Ducks.|