Forgotten Player of the Moment – STEVE LARMER
(by Bill Barnwell)
My first love of sport really came through hockey – I’m pretty sure, in 1991, I could recite the rosters for each team with relatively little difficulty. I scoured the NHL Guide & Record Book each year it came out, memorizing player histories. Somehow, growing up on Long Island, I became a Washington Capitals fan – I’m not really sure why it happened, but it did. That’s another story for another time, though. A good time would be sometime thinking about the Capitals that doesn’t make my brain hemorrhage.
In 1994, the New York Rangers won a Stanley Cup, for some god-forsaken reason. Since I had a passing interest in seeing the Islanders do well, I naturally despised the Rangers. Even now, I can hear the radio call of the game-winning OT goal in game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals: “MATTEAU! MATTEAU!” The sad thing is that I was at a Mets game when it happened, and more people were paying attention to the Rangers-Devils game on the radio than Anthony Young’s gaffes on the mound. Only one player on the Rangers could escape my scorn. That player was Steve Larmer.
Steve Larmer was, as the Rangers have made a tradition of, an import; he was acquired in a three-way trade with Hartford and his long-time employer, the Chicago Blackhawks. There are some memorable role player names in that trade: Bryan Marchment (if we ever have a Forgotten Scumbag of the Moment…), Eric Weinrich, Patrick Poulin, Nick Kypreos, Darren Turcotte, and James Patrick (who I am sure Rippa will start formulating an FPotM entry for as soon as he reads this). Larmer had already left the goal-scoring phase of his career and entered the penalty-killing phase once he became a Ranger, but what people had forgotten was just how good of a player he’d been in Chicago.
First off – he managed to be scrappier than Dirk Graham. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but he was. Dirk Graham will get a FPotM eventually too. The guy didn’t miss a game for eleven years; he never missed a game in his Blackhawk career. And it’s not as if he was Cal Ripken circa 1999 here; Larmer never scored less than 28 goals in a season while on the team. He averaged 38-47-85 for those eleven years. The dude was a rock. He didn’t disappear in the playoffs either; he had a year or two where he had a bad series, but every time the Hawks made a serious run, it was led by Larmer. 56-75-131 in 140 playoff games is pretty fantastic.
Should he be in the Hall of Fame? I don’t know. He certainly has a case, though.