Reijo Ruotsalainen

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Reijo Ruotsalainen
Born (1960-04-01) April 1, 1960 (age 55)
Oulu, FIN
Height 5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Right
Played for NHL
New York Rangers
Edmonton Oilers
New Jersey Devils
SM-liiga
Kärpät
Tappara
KalPa
Elitserien
HV71
Nationalliga A
SC Bern
Zürich SC Lions
National team  Finland
NHL Draft 119th overall, 1980
New York Rangers
Playing career 1975–1998

Reijo Ruotsalainen (born April 1, 1960) is a Finnish retired ice hockey defenceman. He was twice named Finland's top defenceman, and won two Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, in 1987 and 1990.

Playing career[edit]

Kärpät (1975–1981)[edit]

Reijo Ruotsalainen started his career in Kärpät. From his early days, "Reksa" was recognized as a talented defenseman while playing for Kärpät Junior teams.

Kärpät, along with Ruotsalainen, got promoted to SM-liiga from 1. Divisioona for the 1977–78 season, and Ruotsalainen played 30 games and posted 23 points in his first SM-liiga season.

During the 1979–80 season, Ruotsalainen and Kärpät played in the SM-liiga Playoffs, but were eliminated from the Finals by HIFK. Kärpät, however, won the bronze medal series, 2-0, against TPS, and Ruotsalainen along with Kärpät got to enjoy their first medals in SM-liiga history.

The 1980–81 season proved to be a breakthrough for Ruotsalainen. Kärpät broke their way through to finals against Tappara. Before the fifth and decisive game, the series was tied 2 games to 2. After the first period, Tappara was leading 2-0 but Kärpät made a spectacular comeback and won the game 5-2.

After his first Championship in SM-liiga, Ruotsalainen headed to NHL.

New York Rangers (1981–1986)[edit]

Ruotsalainen was signed by the New York Rangers of the NHL in 1981. During his debut season, Ruotsalainen scored 56 points in 78 games.

Ruotsalainen, initially paired on defense with Barry Beck, was eventually moved to forward. His Head Coach Herb Brooks said that Ruotsalainen was the best skater in NHL. Ruotsalainen's fluid skating helped him compensate for his lack of size (Ruotsalainen was 1,73m tall).

Ruotsalainen had his NHL-career high in points during the 1984–85 NHL season, when he scored 73 points in 80 games and led the Rangers in scoring. Ruotsalainen played in the 1986 NHL All-Star game.

SC Bern (1986)[edit]

Ruotsalainen's contract expired after the conclusion of the 1985–86 NHL season. Ruotsalainen was without a team before the start of the 1986–87 NHL season, and accepted an offer from SC Bern, a Swiss team that played in Swiss Nationalliga A.

Ruotsalainen played in 35 games and scored 53 points for SC Bern before returning to the NHL.

Edmonton Oilers (1986–1987)[edit]

Ruotsalainen was signed by the Edmonton Oilers for the remainder of the 1986–87 NHL season. Ruotsalainen was given a spot on the top line of the Oilers. Edmonton had a great team which included Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Mark Messier.

The Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup at the end of the season, and Ruotsalainen's name was added to the Cup for the first time.

HV71 (1987–1988)[edit]

Ruotsalainen's contract had expired after the season with the Oilers. Ruotsalainen's new team was HV71 from Sweden, with whom Ruotsalainen scored 32 points in 40 games.

SC Bern (1988–1989)[edit]

After his single season in Sweden, Ruotsalainen was again contracted by SC Bern. Ruotsalainen played a single season for SC Bern, scoring 46 points in 36 games.

New Jersey Devils (1989–1990)[edit]

Ruotsalainen made his return to NHL after a two season absence. Ruotsalainen was contracted by New Jersey Devils for 1989–90 NHL season.

Edmonton Oilers (1990)[edit]

Ruotsalainen was traded to Edmonton Oilers after 31 games. In Edmonton, Ruotsalainen won his second Stanley Cup as the Oilers won the Cup for the fifth time, the first without Wayne Gretzky.

SC Bern (1990–1993)[edit]

Ruotsalainen decided to return to Europe after his contract with Oilers had expired. Ruotsalainen returned to Switzerland and played for SC Bern, yet again.

Ruotsalainen's tenure in Bern lasted for three seasons. Ruotsalainen scored 38 points during his first season back in Bern.

Kärpät (1993)[edit]

Ruotsalainen decided to return to his "home team" when he was contracted by Kärpät which by time was relegated back to 1. Divisioona.

Ruotsalainen got to play 4 games for Kärpät, scoring 6 points.

Tappara (1993–1994)[edit]

Ruotsalainen was acquired by SM-liiga team Tappara for reminder of 1993–94 season. Ruotsalainen played six regular season games with Tappara and scored 6 points. Ruotsalainen played in the SM-liiga Playoffs with 3 points in 9 games. Tappara however did not have any success in the playoffs and they were eliminated by TPS in Semifinals.

SC Bern (1994–1995)[edit]

After his returning season to Finland, Ruotsalainen accepted a contract offes from SC Bern for 1994–95 season. Ruotsalainen played 19 games for SC Bern and had 10 points.

KalPa (1995)[edit]

Ruotsalainen returned to Finland for 1995–96 season and played for KalPa. Ruotsalainen had 16 games for KalPa and scored 8 points on them.

ZSC Lions (1995–1996)[edit]

Ruotsalainen was contracted mid-season to Swiss team ZSC Lions, where he played 18 games with 15 points.

Kärpät (1996–1998)[edit]

After his season in Zürich, Ruotsalainen decided to end his career in Finland. Ruotsalainen played for Kärpät in the Finnish 1. Divisioona for two more seasons, scoring 31 points in 44 games during his Final season.

Ruotsalainen ended his career 1998.

Ruotsalainen's Jersey #10 is currently retired by Kärpät. [1]

Lacking size, Ruotsalainen made his mark in NHL as a fluid skater. New York Rangers head coach Herb Brooks said he was the best skater in NHL. He played in the NHL all-star game in 1986.

International career[edit]

Reijo Ruotsalainen
Medal record
Competitor for Finland Finland
Men's ice hockey
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1988 Calgary
World Junior Championships
Silver medal – second place 1980 Finland
European Junior Championships
Bronze medal – third place 1976 Czechoslovakia

Ruotsalainen played for the Finnish junior national team from 1975 to 1980, winning bronze at the European Junior Championships in 1976 and silver at the World Junior Championships in 1980, where he was named best defenceman. He played for the Finnish national team at the IIHF World Championships in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1985, and 1989, the 1988 Winter Olympics (winning silver) and the 1981 and the 1987 Canada Cups. [2]

Ruotsalainen became a coach after his playing career. He was an assistant coach with the Miami Matadors of the ECHL during their only season in 1998-99.

He is a member of the Finnish Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.

Awards and achievements[edit]

  • 1986–87 - NHL - Stanley Cup (Edmonton)
  • 1989–90 - NHL - Stanley Cup (Edmonton)
  • Ranked No. 82 on the all-time list of New York Rangers in the book 100 Ranger Greats (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1975–76 Kärpät Oulu I-Div 34 9 15 24 12
1976–77 Kärpät Oulu I-Div 42 25 41 66 14
1977–78 Kärpät Oulu SM-l 30 9 14 23 4
1978–79 Kärpät Oulu SM-l 36 14 8 22 47
1979–80 Kärpät Oulu SM-l 30 15 13 28 31 6 5 2 7 0
1980–81 Kärpät Oulu SM-l 34 28 23 51 28 12 7 4 11 6
1981–82 New York Rangers NHL 78 18 38 56 27 10 4 5 9 2
1982–83 New York Rangers NHL 77 16 53 69 22 9 4 2 6 6
1983–84 New York Rangers NHL 74 20 39 59 26 5 1 1 2 2
1984–85 New York Rangers NHL 80 28 45 73 32 3 2 0 2 6
1985–86 New York Rangers NHL 80 17 42 59 47 16 0 8 8 6
1986–87 SC Bern NDA 35 26 27 53 27
1986–87 Edmonton Oilers NHL 16 5 8 13 6 21 2 5 7 10
1987–88 HV71 Jönköping SEL 40 10 22 32 26 2 0 1 1 2
1988–89 SC Bern NDA 36 17 29 46 46 11 4 7 11 22
1989–90 New Jersey Devils NHL 31 2 5 7 14
1989–90 Edmonton Oilers NHL 10 1 7 8 6 22 2 11 13 12
1990–91 SC Bern NDA 36 13 25 38 20 10 5 8 13 10
1991–92 SC Bern NDA 35 7 16 23 24 11 4 6 10 4
1992–93 SC Bern NDA 31 7 15 22 42 5 0 3 3 29
1993–94 Kärpät Oulu I-Div 4 1 5 6 6
1993–94 Tappara Tampere SM-l 6 2 4 6 2 9 1 2 3 6
1994–95 SC Bern NDA 19 3 7 10 20 6 1 5 6 4
1995–96 KalPa Kuopio SM-l 16 3 5 8 4
1995–96 Zürcher SC NDA 18 4 11 15 4
1996–97 Kärpät Oulu I-Div 17 1 5 6 14 9 0 4 4 0
1997–98 Kärpät Oulu I-Div 44 8 23 31 42 14 2 6 8 10
NDA totals 210 77 130 207 183 43 14 29 43 69
NHL totals 446 107 237 344 180 86 15 32 47 44
SM-l totals 152 71 67 138 116 27 13 8 21 12

International[edit]

Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1976 Finland EJC 3 1 0 1 0
1977 Finland WJC 7 2 4 6 6
1977 Finland EJC 2 0 2 2 0
1978 Finland WJC 6 3 3 6 2
1978 Finland WC 10 2 0 2 2
1979 Finland WJC 6 0 3 3 0
1979 Finland WC 6 2 0 2 2
1980 Finland WJC 5 4 3 7 2
1981 Finland WC 8 3 2 5 4
1981 Finland CC 5 0 1 1 2
1985 Finland WC 10 0 4 4 6
1987 Finland CC 4 0 0 0 2
1988 Finland OLY 8 4 2 6 0
1989 Finland WC 10 2 4 6 6
Junior totals 29 10 15 25 10
Senior totals 61 13 13 26 24

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Directorate Award, Best Defenseman, 1980 IIHF world junior hockey championships[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Collins gem Hockey Facts and Stats 2009-10, p.512, Andrew Podnieks, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, Toronto, Canada, ISBN 978-1-55468-621-6

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Pekka Rautakallio
Winner of the Pekka Rautakallio trophy
1979-80 & 1980-81
Succeeded by
Pertti Lehtonen