Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mike Needham

When I heard the Kamloops Blazers had signed Matthew Needham, I immediately thought to myself "I wonder if that kid is any relation to former NHLer Mike Needham."

The answer is yes. Matthew is Mike's son. He has some big shoes to fill in Kamloops let alone in the NHL. 

Mike Needham starred with the Blazers from 1987 through 1990. After being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins 126th overall in 1989, Mike exploded for a monster season in Kamloops, scoring 59 goals and 125 points in just 60 games. The Blazers made it all the way to the Memorial Cup tournament that spring. He also had 7 points in 7 games at the World Junior Championships, winning gold.

Mike turned pro the following season, and soon enough he was tearing up the IHL. Described as a good skater with excellent work habits, the only thing standing in Mike's way of achieving his NHL dreams was an incredibly well stocked right wing in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins were in their Stanley Cup prime in the early 1990s, boasting Jaromir Jagr, Rick Tocchet, Joe Mullen and later Tomas Sandstrom all on their right wing. Needham and other Penguins prospects had no chance of cracking the line up. 

Mike did get into 5 playoff games in 1992, allowing him to get his name on the Penguins 2nd Stanley Cup championship.

The following year Needham played a bit role on the Pens 3rd and 4th lines, scoring just 8 goals in 56 games. A serious back injury hampered him all year. Surgery was required to repair the herniated disk  It kept him to just 25 games (and one lonely goal) in the 1993-94 season.

The Pens traded Needham away to Dallas where it was hoped he could put his injuries behind him and fulfill his promise. He would just play 5 games the Stars. After parts of two more injury plagued seasons in the minors, Mike Needham hung up his skates for good.

Mike Needham played in 86 NHL games, scoring 9 goals and 5 assists. He added 2 more goals in 14 playoff games, earning a Stanley Cup ring in 1992. 

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