John Tonelli

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John Tonelli
John Tonelli 80-81.JPG
Born (1957-03-23) March 23, 1957 (age 57)
Hamiton, ON, CAN
Height 6 ft 01 in (185 cm)
Weight 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Houston Aeros
New York Islanders
Calgary Flames
Los Angeles Kings
Chicago Blackhawks
Quebec Nordiques
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 33rd overall, 1977
New York Islanders
Playing career 1975–1992

John A. Tonelli (born March 23, 1957)[1] is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey forward. He was a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the New York Islanders, and also played with the Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Quebec Nordiques of the National Hockey League.

Career[edit]

In 1982 and 1985, Tonelli was a second team All-Star left wing for the Islanders. He played in the Stanley Cup finals in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984 with the Islanders, winning four championships in the process, and made an additional appearance as runner-up in the Cup finals in 1986 with the Flames.

On May 24, 1980, Tonelli had the assist on Bob Nystrom's overtime Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Philadelphia Flyers, giving the Islanders their first of four straight Cups. In Game 6 at Nassau Coliseum, Lorne Henning stole the puck at center ice, passed to Tonelli, who then criss-crossed with Nystrom, feeding him the puck on Nystrom's backhand for the winning goal at 7:11 of overtime. It was a play the two had perfected during practice.

Tonelli was a gritty forward with a never-say-die attitude for The New York Islanders who won four straight Stanley Cups. Tonelli, who was affectionately dubbed "The Greasy Jet" by his teammates, is remembered for scoring important "clutch goals" in the Islanders' run of four straight Stanley Cups and five straight finals appearances, particularly during the 1981-82 season. During the playoffs that year, The Islanders were five minutes away from being eliminated by a much weaker Pittsburgh Penguin team, trailing 3-1 in the deciding game. Tonelli assisted on a Mike McEwen goal that closed the champions within one goal, and tied the game himself with 2:21 to play. For an encore, it was John Tonelli that scored in overtime to win the game for the Islanders, thus extending their long reign as Stanley Cup champions.

Tonelli also scored the winning goal in a February 20, 1982 game against the Colorado Rockies, beating former teammate Chico Resch with just 47 seconds to play to allow the Islanders to set an NHL record (since broken) with their fifteenth consecutive victory.

Tonelli was one of the first players to challenge the Ontario Hockey Association and the Toronto Marlies OHA team, with which he had signed a contract at age 16.[2] As he reached age 18 the WHA's Houston team offered him a contract, but his contract with the Marlies tied him to the OHA team for three years plus and option. Tonelli refused to play for Toronto in the playoffs after he turned 18, so that it would not imperil his legal arguments. Tonelli's agent Gus Badali sued the Marlies and the OHA and eventually the Ontario Courts ruled that the contract was unenforceable because Tonelli had been under the age 18 when he signed it (and his parents had not signed it). Tonelli's teammate, future NHLer John Anderson followed this same lead, sitting out for a period, but eventually returned to lead Toronto in the Memorial Cup.[3]

He was known for being virtually unbeatable in digging out the puck in the corners of the rink; however, Tonelli also had an excellent shot, was a good passer, and had excellent timing both offensively and defensively. Tonelli was also very versatile. During his eight seasons with the Islanders, coach Al Arbour used Tonelli on the famed "Banana Line" with Wayne Merrick and Bob Nystrom, on the top line with Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, and later he played flank for Brent Sutter and Patrick Flatley.

Although Tonelli played a key role in the four Cup victories the team won from 1980 to 1983, in some ways his career culminated in the fall of 1984 when he played for Canada in the Canada Cup, an invitation he almost turned down. He not only made the team, he had nine points, including a key assist on Mike Bossy's goal in overtime of the semifinal. Canada won the championship and Tonelli was named the tournament's best player, winning the 1984 Canada Cup MVP award.

He then rejoined the Islanders and had his best season ever, scoring 42 goals and 100 points in 1984-1985 before being traded to the Calgary Flames during the 85-86 season. The Flames, with Tonelli's experience, reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time.

Tonelli finished his 1028-game NHL career with 325 goals and 511 assists for 836 points.

Other[edit]

The John Tonelli Arena in Milton, Ontario is named in his honour. He currently resides in New York City, working for Fidelity National Financial. His older brother Ray was also a hockey player.

Awards[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1973–74 Toronto Marlboros OHA 69 18 37 55 62
1974–75 Toronto Marlboros OMJHL 70 49 86 135 85
1975–76 Houston Aeros WHA 79 14 17 31 66 17 7 7 14 18
1976–77 Houston Aeros WHA 80 24 31 55 109 11 3 4 7 12
1977–78 Houston Aeros WHA 65 23 41 64 103 6 1 3 4 8
1978–79 New York Islanders NHL 73 17 39 56 44 10 1 6 7 0
1979–80 New York Islanders NHL 77 14 30 44 49 21 7 9 16 18
1980–81 New York Islanders NHL 70 20 32 52 57 16 5 8 13 16
1981–82 New York Islanders NHL 80 35 58 93 57 19 6 10 16 18
1982–83 New York Islanders NHL 76 31 40 71 55 20 7 11 18 20
1983–84 New York Islanders NHL 73 27 40 67 66 17 1 3 4 31
1984–85 New York Islanders NHL 80 42 58 100 95 10 1 8 9 10
1985–86 New York Islanders NHL 65 20 41 61 50
1985–86 Calgary Flames NHL 9 3 4 7 10 22 7 9 16 49
1986–87 Calgary Flames NHL 78 20 31 51 72 3 0 0 0 4
1987–88 Calgary Flames NHL 74 17 41 58 84 6 2 5 7 8
1988–89 Los Angeles Kings NHL 71 31 33 64 110 6 0 0 0 8
1989–90 Los Angeles Kings NHL 73 31 37 68 62 10 1 2 3 6
1990–91 Los Angeles Kings NHL 71 14 16 30 49 12 2 4 6 12
1991–92 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 33 1 7 8 37
1991–92 Quebec Nordiques NHL 19 2 4 6 14
NHL totals 1028 325 511 836 911 172 40 75 115 200

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]