Dennis Vial was drafted 110th overall by the New York Rangers in 1988. The Rangers drafted him from the Hamilton Steelhawks based on his toughness and versatility. He was returned to the OHA for another year of seasoning before the Rangers allowed him to turn professional.
The 1989-90 season was spent in the International Hockey League with the Flint Spirits. He established himself in the "I" with his 351 penalty minutes. The next season saw him reach the National Hockey League for the first time. He played his first game in a Ranger uniform on October 13, 1990 against Washington. By the end of the campaign, he was a Detroit Red Wing.
It was with the Red Wings that Vial scored his first NHL goal. On November 22, 1991, he scored on Darcy Wakaluk of the Minnesota North Stars. The Wings eventually returned him to the minors where he helped Andirondack win the Calder Cup. Vial appeared in nine more games for the parent club in 1992-93.
June 1993 saw the tough man travel throughout the continent--on paper, at least. Detroit traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning on the 8th. Just two weeks later, on the 24th, he was claimed by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in Phase 1 of the Expansion Draft. In Phase 2, the Ducks left him unprotected and the Ottawa Senators claimed him.
The Senators gave Vial his first chance to be an NHL regular. In 1993-94, he was given the Frank Finnigan Award for being the most improved player on the squad. He led the team in penalty minutes, major penalties, and fighting majors.
Unfortunately, with such a player as Vial, injuries are a fact of life. Three of his next four seasons with the Senators were severely shortened by various ailments.
Since playing in Ottawa, Vial has played with the IHL Chicago Wolves, Sheffield Steelers in Britain, and, more recently, with the South Carolina Columbia Inferno.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame