On May 23, 2009 the NHL and New Jersey Devils said good-bye to a great hockey player; a player who played the game with tons of physical dominance, at times had a scoring touch, had a great personality, and a tremendous amount of character, which rubbed off on his teammates. Who am I talking about? I’m talking about a beast, a monster, the real Frankenstein…why none other than the great Bobby Holik.
Bobby Holik called it a career on Saturday and decided to retire to his home in Montana to spend time with his family.
Holik played 18 seasons in the NHL, 11 of which he spent with the New Jersey Devils. He won two Stanley Cups with the Devils (1995 & 2000) and has been a fan favorite in New Jersey for years.
Because of the fact that I have seen Bobby play for years and have admired him as a player, I found it absolutely necessary that an article should be written as a tribute. He was a tough, devoted, determined, and just a flat out great Devil.
This article is for you #16.
Robert “Bobby” Holik was born on New Years Day (January 1), 1971 in Jihlava Czechoslovakia. Before coming to America to play hockey, he spent his time playing in his home country of Czechoslovakia for the Dukla Jihlava in 1988-1989. Bobby had 25 points with the team, but had made himself known as a physical enforcer.
At 6’3, 225 pounds NHL scouts noticed his size and knew that he would be a dominant force in the NHL and that opposing teams would have problems playing against him and as a center he would win many face-offs because of his size.
In the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, he was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the 1st round, #10 overall.
Holik had a very successful first season with the Hartford Whalers. He played in 78 games, had 21 goals and 22 assists (43 points total). He let the NHL know that he was a physical force to be reckoned with, as he had over 113 penalty minutes. The following year he tuned down his penalty minutes to only 44, while he posted 45 points in 76 games.
His career would change forever after the 1991-1992 season, when the Hartford Whalers traded Holik and a draft pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Sean Burke and Eric Weinrich. (The Devils would use that draft pick to select Jay Pandolfo in the following year’s draft)
In his first season with the team, it became abundantly clear that he fit in well with the team and was going to be there for a while. He played 61 games in the 1992-1993 season and scored 20 goals and had 19 assists. He was a player of physical dominance and it began to rub off on his other teammates.
The following year, he became part of and centered one the greatest lines in the history of the New Jersey Devils; The Crash line. The Crash line was made up of Bobby Holik, Mike Peluso, and Randy McKay. They went out and hit and just physically wore out opposing teams. Their great play together played a major role in the New Jersey Devils’ Stanley Cup victory in the 1994-1995 season.
While playing on the Crash line, Bobby Holik not only played a great physical game, but he contributed offensively. During the Devils’ quest for the cup in 1995, Bobby scored some huge goals in the playoffs and he went on to score 4 goals and 4 assists in the playoffs.
After the Stanley Cup victory in 1995, Bobby Holik’s career would only get better, even though the Crash Line came to an end in 1996 when the Devils’ traded Mike Peluso.
In the 1996-1997, Holik had a huge year offensively as he scored 62 points and played in all 82 games. From this point on Bobby Holik became very consistent in putting up some good numbers and staying healthy.
The next two seasons he put up 65 points and 64 points. However, the New Jersey Devils became known as a team that excelled in the regular season, but could never get it done in the playoffs. Ever since the ’95 Cup, the Devils were knocked out early in the playoffs in every season leading up to the 1999-2000 season. Bobby Holik’s numbers disappeared in the playoffs for the most part, but that was about to change.
In the 1999-2000 season, Bobby Holik’s offensive numbers declined a bit, but what he lacked in offense he made up for in physicality. He had over 106 penalty minutes and he played solid defense. When the Devils made another run for the cup in 2000, Holik stepped up his game in the playoffs. He scored 3 goals and 7 assists, and alongside Randy McKay, he helped where down the opponent.
When all was said and done in the 1999-2000 season, Bobby Holik hoisted the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career, which is an outstanding accomplishment.
The following year it looked like the Devils were going to yet again raise the cup. Holik had a 50 point season, and an even better playoff performance. He scored 6 goals with 10 assists, but in the end the Devils’ choked and blew a 3-2 series lead over the Colorado Avalanche and they
Holik had yet another strong year the following season, and he scored 4 goals in the Devils’ first round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. A series in which, the Devils’ lost in six.
The next year was a very sad year for Devils’ fans, as the New Jersey Devils did not resign Bobby Holik and he signed with the hated cross-town rival, New York Rangers.
Bobby Holik spent two years with the New York Rangers. He put up some decent numbers, but he never helped them reach the playoffs.
In Atlanta, it became very clear that his career was on the way down. His numbers began to drop, but he still posted a high total of penalty minutes.
Although he wasn’t putting up big numbers in Atlanta, he was still a great leader with the young players on the Thrashers. In the 2007-2008 season, the Thrasher’s named Bobby Holik their Captain. It was a very well deserved honor.
When all was said and done and Bobby Holik hung up his skates, it’s fair to say that he had a very great and successful career.
He played in 1,314 NHL games and recorded 747 points in 18 NHL seasons. He made two all star game appearances in his career in 1998 and 1999.
He’s a very outspoken person and he was never afraid to let anyone hear his opinion of things, which is what makes him such a great person. Like this great quote from when Holik was on the Thrashers.
“Every loss that comes, we get fundamentally worse. I believe fundamentally we are the worst team in the NHL.”
Bobby Holik said he came to the decision to retire at the midpoint of the season. However, he kept it quiet because he did not want to make it a distraction. Bobby will now retire to his home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to spend more time with his family.
Thank you Bobby Holik, Forever #16.