October 31, 1933 |
Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||186 lb (84 kg; 13 st 4 lb)|
Toronto Maple Leafs
Chicago Black Hawks
Eric "Sonja" Paul Nesterenko (born October 31, 1933) is a Canadian former professional National Hockey League (NHL) player from 1951 to 1972, playing centre for the Toronto Maple Leafs until 1956 and for the Chicago Black Hawks thereafter. In 1973–74 he played for the Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association, after a year of coaching in Switzerland. He had 250 goals and 324 assists during his NHL career, and won a Stanley Cup championship with Chicago in 1961. The rangy right winger was a superb penalty killer, who also was known for using his elbows in the corners.
Nesterenko infamously required 15 stitches in his head after Willie O'Ree hit him with a stick, following an incident in which Nesterenko had knocked out the two front teeth of O'Ree and used racial taunts against O'Ree, the first black player in the NHL.
Nesterenko was born in Flin Flon, Manitoba to immigrants from Ukraine. He attended high school at North Toronto Collegiate Institute. In 1986, he played the father of character Dean Youngblood (played by Rob Lowe) in the movie Youngblood, and was also the film's hockey consultant. He has also worked as a disk jockey, a stockbroker, a travel broker, a freelance writer, a university professor and a ski instructor.
Near the end of his NHL career, he was interviewed for Studs Terkel's bestselling book, Working: What People do all Day and How They Feel About What They Do.
Awards and achievements
- WHL championship (1956)
- Edinburgh Trophy championship (1956)
- Stanley Cup championship (1961)
- Played in NHL All-Star Game (1961 and 1965)
- “Honoured Member” of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame
- Eric Nesterenko's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
- Eric Nesterenko's biography at Legends of Hockey
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