Wednesday

Ron Stern

Here in Canada there has been a disheartening news story developing this summer. An organization called Imagine Adoption, which specializes in bringing orphaned African children to good homes in Canada, has gone bankrupt, leaving as many as 450 families in limbo. Also in jeopardy is the organization's efforts to build infrastructure such as schools and medical buildings in Africa.

One of the more high profile clients was former NHL tough guy Ron Stern. He and his wife successfully adopted a baby out of Ethiopia two years ago, and the couple has used their status to help raise money for the organization in the past.

Patrick Maloney of the London Press has the full story regarding Stern. It is just another example of what a great guy NHL tough guys can be.

I always considered Ron Stern to be more than a tough guy. True, he would drop the gloves without complaint and racked up some gaudy PIM totals, but I always considered him to be more of a honest, blue collar winger who knew his job and performed it to the best of his ability. He was a surprisingly good skater, allowing him to excel at a bang-and-crash game where he was a punishing hitter. He was a guy who you had to admire because he gave it everything he had on every shift.

Although he had decent offensive numbers in juniors and in the minors, Stern could never find his coring touch in the NHL. He only scored 75 times in his 638 game career, mostly by crashing the net for loose pucks. If he could hit 10 goals a year that was considered to be good production. He rarely handled the puck with much success. His best offensive play was to simply let his linemates carry the puck into the zone while he drove hard to the net opening up lanes for them.

Stern's best days were with the Calgary Flames, forming an effective grind line with center Joel Otto. He also played in Vancouver and San Jose, always employing his rugged game.

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