Brian Rafalski


Brian Rafalski

Infobox Ice Hockey Player
team = Detroit Red Wings
former_teams = New Jersey Devils
league = NHL
position = Defense
shoots = Right
height_ft = 5
height_in = 10
weight_lb = 191
nationality = USA
birth_date = birth date and age|1973|9|28
birth_place = Dearborn, MI, U.S.
career_start = 1995



image_size=250px

Brian Rafalski (born September 28, 1973, in Dearborn, Michigan) is an American professional ice hockey player who plays defense for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League, having been signed as an unrestricted free agent from the New Jersey Devils. After enduring a long struggle to enter the NHL, Rafalski has won 3 Stanley Cups and become an effective defenseman in the league. In his eight seasons in the league, he has played in four Stanley Cup finals. (2000, 2001, 2003, 2008)

Playing career

College and European play

Rafalski played for four years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a proficient player, scoring 45 points in 43 games in his senior year. He won several awards that season; he was named to the WCHA First All-Star Team, the NCAA West All-Star Team, and the WCHA Defenseman of the Year. With no immediate NHL prospects, Rafalski travelled overseas. He spent the 1995-1996 season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish elite league. After scoring only 9 points in 22 games in Sweden, he then moved to Finland. He played a season for HPK of the SM-liiga, and scored 35 points. He travelled to HIFK in 1997, where he spent two successful years. In his final year in Finland, he scored 19 goals and 53 points in 53 games, and won the Kultainen kypärä, which is the SM-liiga trophy for best player as voted by his fellow players. Notably, he also became the first non-Finnish player to win the award.

NHL career

Brian Rafalski was named by the Sporting News in 1999 as the best hockey player in the world not playing in the NHL. On May 7, 1999, Rafalski was signed by the New Jersey Devils as a free agent. He was 26 years of age at the start of the 1999–2000 NHL season, much older than most rookies, but he had played in some of the finest leagues in Europe. He finished the season with 32 points. He led all rookie defencemen in plus-minus with a +21 rating, second among Devils defencemen and tied for first for all rookies. Rafalski helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup that year. Along with Calder Trophy winning teammate Scott Gomez, he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

Rafalski improved his production in his sophomore season, as he scored 52 points, which led the team. His 18 points during the playoffs set a team record for defencemen, although the Devils lost to the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals.

In the 2001–02 NHL season, Rafalski continued his scoring ways, notching 47 points. He was selected to participate in the NHL All-Star Game, but was forced to sit out due to injury. He did go on to represent Team USA at the 2002 Winter Olympics, winning a silver medal as the US lost to Canada in the finals. The next season, he once again led all Devils defencemen in scoring with 40 points. He was a vital part of the Devils defense that helped the team win its third Stanley Cup in eight seasons, with a seven-game win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He has continued to represent America in international play, playing in both the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2006 Winter Olympics.On July 1, 2007, the Detroit Red Wings signed Rafalski, a Michigan native, to a $30 million, five-year contract.

Rafalski set a career high in goals (11) after scoring against the St. Louis Blues on March 5 2008. He would go on to score 13 goals for the season, amassing that amount in 73 games.

On June 4, 2008, Rafalski won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, the team he grew up rooting for. He helped out the cause by scoring the first Red Wings' goal on the powerplay in the first period to help them defeat the Penguins, 3-2, in game 6.

Awards and achievements

* 1995 - Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defenseman of the Year
* 1995 - Western Collegiate Hockey Association First All-Star Team
* 1995 - NCAA West First All-Star Team
* 1997 - Pekka Rautakallio trophy for best defenseman in the SM-liiga
* 1999 - Matti Keinonen trophy for best +/- in the SM-liiga
* 1999 - Pekka Rautakallio trophy for best defenseman in the SM-liiga
* 1999 - Kultainen kypärä award for best player in the SM-liiga
* 1999–00 - NHL All-Rookie Team
* 1999–00 - NHL Rookie of the Month for February
* 2003–04 - Starter for Eastern Conference in NHL All-Star Game

Personal life

Brian and his wife Felicity have three sons, Danny(11), Evan(7) and Matthew(4).

He is a fan of the Indiana Jones movies.Wings roster insider. http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080523/SPORTS05/805230419/1053/SPORTS05. ]

Brian and his family own a home on the Chain O' Lakes in Waupaca, Wisconsin.

Career statistics

International play

* 2002 - Won silver medal with Team USA at 2002 Winter Olympics
* 2004 - Member of Team USA at 2004 World Cup of Hockey
* 2006 - Member of Team USA at 2006 Winter Olympics

Notes

External links

*hockeydb|4438
* [http://www.usolympicteam.com/26_12453.htm Brian's U.S. Olympic Team bio]


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