October 2, 1968 |
Vancouver, BC, CAN
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||240 lb (110 kg; 17 st 2 lb)|
|Played for||Minnesota North Stars
San Jose Sharks
|NHL Draft||40th overall, 1988
Minnesota North Stars
Link Gaetz, (born October 2, 1968 in Vancouver, British Columbia) is a Canadian retired professional ice hockey player who played in the National Hockey League with the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks.
Gaetz was drafted in the second round, 40th overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota North Stars. According to then-North Stars general manager Lou Nanne, Gaetz was intended to provide on-ice protection for forward Mike Modano, Minnesota's No. 1 overall pick that year. Four months after being drafted by the North Stars, Gaetz was arrested and charged with drunk driving. After 17 games over two seasons with Minnesota, Gaetz was taken by the San Jose Sharks in the 1991 Expansion Draft.
On April 2, 1992 at 10:00 am, Gaetz was thrown from the passenger seat of a car driven by a friend. The friend, later charged with driving under the influence, had lost control on an off-ramp at 80 mph. Gaetz arrived at the Peninsula Hospital with back and facial injuries, and was semi-comatose for eight days. His mother, Sonja Koskinen, flew down from Vancouver to hear doctors say her son might die. His brain stem had been injured, and Gaetz awoke with his left side partially paralyzed and no memory of the accident. He left the hospital after six weeks. Over the next two months, he worked with therapists to regain movement and speech, and he confounded doctors by returning to the ice late that summer, skating twice daily. Gaetz would later be released from the hospital and several months later was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. On September 10, 1993, Sharks general manager Dean Lombardi decided that he had enough, and traded the 23-year-old defenseman to the Edmonton Oilers for a tenth round pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. From there, Gaetz never played another game in the NHL and found himself playing in a wide variety of cities and leagues all over Canada and the United States. The Sharks used the tenth round pick (240th overall) to draft Tomas Pisa, who never played a professional game.
Gaetz played in only 65 career NHL games, but he accumulated 412 penalty minutes while playing for the North Stars and Sharks. He would later go on to play in various low level pro leagues across North America over the next 15 years, including time with the North American League, Central Hockey League, Sunshine Hockey League, West Coast Hockey League, American Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, International Hockey League, Colonial Hockey League, Quebec Semi-Pro Hockey League (Now the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey), Northern New Brunswick Senior AAA Hockey League, and the short lived Canadian Elite Hockey League. He also spent some time in 1994 with Roller Hockey International playing 8 games (1G, 3A, 4PTS, 46 PIM) for the Sacramento River Rats where he was kicked off the team for "beating up the trainer", in Gaetz's own recollection.
While he was playing with the Thetford Mines Prolab of the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (LNAH) on March 13, 2005, in a game against the Verdun Dragons, Gaetz did not take a shift during the first or second period. During the second intermission, Gaetz changed out of his jersey and skates and went out to the concession stand to buy a hamburger and "promptly ate it". Thetford Mines Prolab considered this disrespectful to the players, and suspended Gaetz for the remainder of the season. The incident later earned Gaetz the reputation as one of the "quirkiest athletes in pro sports" in his native Canada.
A month later, five Prolab players were brutally beaten in a one-sided playoff brawl against the Sorel-Tracy Mission. Video of the brawl quickly went viral. It is widely considered that the Prolab team was left vulnerable thanks to injuries to their enforcers, but also because of Link's ejection from the team. Had he been playing, he could have helped difuse the Sorel enforcers.
Battle of the Hockey Enforcers
Gaetz was one of three former NHL players to take part in the Battle of the Hockey Enforcers, a made-for-TV event held in July 2005 which featured enforcers from various minor leagues fighting on ice in full equipment as if they were in a game-time matchup. Gaetz's opening matchup was against then-Sherbrooke St-Francois forward Steve Reid. Gaetz would go down twice in the opening round and did not participate past the opening fight due to "concussion-like symptoms".
- The Sports World's Quirkiest Athletes http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Microgalleries/2012/08/24/20138496.html?&pic=1
- Urstadt, Bryant. "The legend of Link". ESPN. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- Tomas Pisa http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=29035
- "Link Gaetz Suspended for the Rest of the Season". theiceblock.com. 2005-03-21. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- Jeff Z. Klein (2011-02-28). "Fighting to Stay in the Game". NewYorkTimes.com. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
- Quirkiest Athletes http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Microgalleries/2012/08/24/20138496.html?&pic=0