Having suffered a broken leg that hampered his burgeoning career at the age of 16 and considered too small to play in the NHL (5'10" and 185 pounds), Ciccarelli was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota North Stars in September 1979 and joined the NHL club during the 1980-81 season. While he played 32 games with the North Stars that season, Dino took the NHL by storm that spring with a dominating performance in the 1981 Stanley Cup playoffs. His 14 goals and 21 points in 19 games was a major contributor to Minnesota's march to the Stanley Cup final.
Ciccarelli built on his rookie success, scoring a career-high 106 points on the strength of 55 goals in his first full season. As a North Star, Dino not only developed into a consistent goal-scoring force, but he quickly established a reputation as a gritty, in-your-face forward, scoring the majority of his goals from the lip of the crease, and usually after absorbing considerable punishment from opposing defencemen and netminders.
In March of 1989, his ninth season with the North Stars, Ciccarelli was traded to the Washington Capitals with defenceman Bob Rouse for sniper Mike Gartner and offensive defenceman Larry Murphy. When he left Minnesota, Dino's 651 points were the fourth-most in club history.
Ciccarelli played his gritty style with Washington, and continued to score consistently. However, the team's repeated playoff failures caused Capitals' management to make changes and Ciccarelli was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Kevin Miller during the summer of 1992.
The Red Wings were a club with plentiful scoring, but they lacked a forward with Ciccarelli's grit and tenacity. Dino was an immediate hit in Motown, scoring 41 goals and 97 points in 1992-93. In the spring of 1995, Ciccarelli made his second trip to the Stanley Cup final, but Detroit fell to the New Jersey Devils, in spite of Dino's 9-goal output. In both 1995 and 1996, the Red Wings finished first overall, winning the Presidents' Trophy.
Dino was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a fourth round draft pick in August 1996. His veteran presence inspired the Lightning and invigorated Dino, who rebounded from a couple of less-productive seasons with a 35-goal and 60-point campaign. Yet, despite his personal success, the team continued to flounder in the standings and in January 1998, Dino was traded to the cross-state Florida Panthers along with Jeff Norton for Mark Fitzpatrick and Jody Hull. In his eighteenth NHL season, Ciccarelli reached a personal milestone, scoring his 600th career goal.
The 1998-99 season was the last for Ciccarelli, who was limited to just 14 games after suffering a back injury against the Chicago Blackhawks on November 4, 1998. At season's end, the Panthers released Ciccarelli. Dino subsequently retired on August 31, 1999, ranked ninth in NHL history in goals scored. Through his NHL career, Dino played 1,232 regular season games, finishing with 608 goals and 592 assists for 1,200 points. In 141 playoff games, he scored 73 goals and added 45 assists for 118 points.
Dino Ciccarelli silenced critics who cited his size as a detriment to playing in the NHL, and in spite of having never been drafted by an NHL squad, he enjoyed a spectacular career, filled with fire, brimstone and points that earned him selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame
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