Teammates called him Chow, but fans dubbed him the Polish Prince. He dated supermodels and married Bond girl Izabella Scorupco. Now retired after 14 seasons twirling around the NHL, he spends much of his time just being cool and golfing as a member of the PGA back home in Poland.
If this was a list of former Edmonton Oilers who had it going on and still do now that their playing days are over, Mariusz Czerkawski would easily make my top three. As it stands, with living the kind of life you read about in GQ Magazine not figuring into things, the talented Czerkawski still makes my Top 100 after spending just 113 games in Oiler silks.
Mariusz Czerkawski #21
|NUMBER:||29||BIRTHDATE:||April 13, 1972|
|HEIGHT:||6′ 0″||BIRTHPLACE:||Radomsko, Poland|
|WEIGHT:||200||DRAFTED:||BOS / 1991 NHL Entry Draft|
|SHOOTS:||Right||ROUND:||5th (106th overall)|
BY THE NUMBERS
CAREER REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS
|1993-94||DJURGARDENS IF STOCKHOLM-SWEDEN||39||13||21||34||20|
|2004-05||DJURGARDENS IF STOCKHOLM-SWEDEN||46||15||9||24||20|
|2006-07||SC RAPPERSWIL-JONA LAKERS-SWISS||43||21||20||41||70|
CAREER PLAYOFF STATISTICS
|1991-92||DJURGARDENS IF STOCKHOLM-SWEDEN||3||0||0||0||2|
|1992-93||HAMMARBY IF STOCKHOLM-SWEDEN-2||13||16||7||23||34|
|1993-94||DJURGARDENS IF STOCKHOLM-SWEDEN||6||3||1||4||2|
Czerkawski, the first Polish born and raised player to make it to the NHL, arrived in Edmonton from Boston with Sean Brown in January 1996 when the Oilers sent goaltender Bill Ranford the other way. He produced right away, scoring 12 goals and adding 17 assists for 29 points in 37 games.
In 1996-97, his only full season in Edmonton, Czerkawski scored 26 goals, third on the team behind only Ryan Smyth (a career-high 39) and Andrei Kovalenko (32) in 76 games. During that campaign, Czerkawski waltzed back into Boston and notched a hat-trick Nov. 7, 1996 as the Oilers beat the Bruins – they didn’t win there again until a 3-2 victory in Boston last month.
The other highlight of that season, one in which the Oilers went 36-37-9 under coach Ron Low, was an appearance at then-Edmonton Coliseum by Scorupco, a model, actress and singer who made a splash playing alongside Pierce Brosnan in the 1995 Bond film GoldenEye, but I digress . . .
That 1996-97 season should have set Czerkawski up for a long run as a member of the Oilers – they certainly could have used him — but with owner Peter Pocklington on the way out and the EIG on the way in, it wasn’t to be as Czerkawski became another in a long line of players to leave Edmonton because the Oilers couldn’t afford to keep him.
Czerkawski, who was in line for a considerable raise after making $300,000 in 1996-97, was traded to the New York Islanders for Dan LaCouture by GM Glen Sather that summer. Czerkawski, just 25 at the time, signed a five-year deal with the Islanders worth $6.6 million. Another good one gone.
All told, Czerkawski tallied 38-38-76 in his 113 regular season games with the Oilers. He closed out his 745-game career with a second stint in Boston, playing just 16 games in 2005-06, before trading in his skates for golf spikes and returning home to Poland.
This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.
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