Saturday, March 21, 2009

Walt Poddubny, 1960-2009. R.I.P.

Former NHL left wing forward Walt Poddubny died suddenly this morning at the home of his sister in Thunder Bay, Ontario (my hometown). The cause of death is unknown but he was only 49 years old.

I never met Poddubny but he was a local boy who made good. He played for 11 seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Quebec Nordiques and the New Jersey Devils.

Poddubny had his greatest success in the late 1980s with the Rangers and Nordiques. He scored 87 points with the Rangers in 1986-87 and 88 points with the Rangers in 1987-1988. Poddubny would be traded to the Nordiques where he scored 75 points and played in his only NHL All Star Game.

After his NHL career ended, Poddubny was involved roller hockeyas a player/coach. He turned to coaching full time in 1995 first in the short lived Southern Hockey League with the Daytona Beach Breakers and then for six seasons with the Anchorage Aces of the West Coast Hockey League.

Poddubny returned to Thunder Bay in 2003 where he coached youngsters.

He wasn't the first person from Thunder Bay to make it to the NHL but he was certainly the most successful. If you are not from Canada you probably don't have a full appreciation of just how big a deal hockey is in Canada. Hockey players are royalty in Canada and Poddubny was a very big deal in Thunder Bay both during and after his playing career.


Three Chord Monte said...

It was a shame to hear about Poddubny. He was a popular Ranger and a big deal in the Garden at a time when we really needed the scoring. He made his mark here as well.

Anonymous said...

I met Walt at my first Leaf game many many years ago. He is the player that made me interested in hockey. I had a Poddubny jersey for every team he was on.

He was truly an amazing guy.

Never would he refuse to sign an autograph even when he broke his thumb and it pained him to write. I remember him telling me that he could never say no to a kid who was looking up at him with "big eyes" just wanting an autograph. He loved the game and he loved his fans.

He was 1 in a million and I will NEVER forget him.

Rest in Peace my friend.

Shari (Hamilton, ON)

Kim said...

Walt was a great guy..Met him while he was coaching the Alaska Aces back in the day...very sad to hear about his death...way too young.