Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we look at the Tampa Bay Lightning One-Hit Wonders.
The Tampa Bay Lightning Top Three One-Hit Wonders
Our first one-hit-wonder sees us take a look at longtime NHL player Teddy Purcell. Playing his junior hockey for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, he managed to put up back-to-back seasons of 65+ points before joining the University of Maine for the 2006-07 season. In his only season in Maine, he collected 43 points in 40 games played, while taking home NCAA (Hockey East) Rookie of the Year. This caught the attention of the Los Angeles Kings and they signed him as an undrafted free agent.
Making his NHL debut in 2007-08, Purcell managed to suit up for 10 games with the Kings, collecting one goal and two assists in the process. He would go on spending one more season splitting time between the AHL and the NHL before making the jump full time in 2008-09.
Purcell’s time with the Kings was short-lived as he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 3rd, 2010. Although Purcell had managed to impress the Kings enough to earn him a full-time roster spot, the Lightning saw his true potential and decided it was worth a shot to trade for him, and so they did.
One Hit Wonder
Purcell had a good first year in Tampa but his second season (2011-12) was when he ultimately hit his peak as an NHL player. In 81 games played, he scored 24 goals and added 41 assists for 65 points. Purcell had always been a decent depth player who could set up teammates with ease and provide decent offence but no one was expecting those results.
Comparing his 2011-12 season to his other career stats, his second closest season came in 2010-11 when he managed to put up 51 points. Although it is only a difference of 14 points, he never topped more than 20 goals and 40 assists after that season.
After the Wonder
Purcell spent two more seasons playing for the Lightning but was never able to return to his peak season again. The Lighting ultimately viewed him as expendable and they traded Purcell to the Edmonton Oilers on June 29th, 2014 in exchange for Sam Gagner.
Purcell is a prime example of how a player came to be viewed as a dominant force one season and go back to being mediocre the next. It is extremely hard to produce at a consistent level in the NHL and Purcell ultimately never returned to his peak as a player.
Purcell spent the rest of his NHL career playing for the Oilers, the Florida Panthers, and the Kings (for a second time) before heading overseas and signing with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. He only played 21 games in the KHL before retiring from professional hockey at the age of 32.
Unlike Purcell, Stan Drulia did not have a long NHL career. Drafted in the 11th round, 214th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1986 NHL Draft, Drulia certainly did his time in the minors. After dominating junior hockey, playing with the Belleville Bulls, Hamilton Steelhawks and the Niagara Falls Thunder, Drulia signed an AHL contract with the Maine Mariners of the AHL. He only played three games with them before moving on and signing with the Phoenix Roadrunners of the IHL.
Drulia bounced around between the AHL and IHL before getting into 24 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992-93. In those games, he managed to score two goals and added an assist for three points to go along with 10 minutes in penalties. It was clearly not enough for the Lightning management as he went sent back down to the IHL and spent the next six seasons splitting time between the Atlanta Knights and the Detroit Vipers.
One Hit Wonder
After a long career dominating the minors, Drulia finally made the Lightning full time at the start of the 1999-00 season. No one saw what was coming next though. In 68 games played, he would collect 11 goals and add 22 assists for 33 points to go along with 24 minutes in penalties.
What shocked everyone was the fact that Drulia had spent so much time playing in the minors. Everyone thought he would come in and collect a few points but he blew that out of the water. Drulia, albeit for a very short period, proved that he could be a reliable producer on offence and contribute on a nightly basis. His next career-high in points the NHL was six points so he is indeed the true definition of a one-hit-wonder.
After the Wonder
Coming off of his career-high in points the season before, Drulia once again made the Lightning roster for the start of the 2000-01 season. In 34 games played, he scored two goals and added four assists for six points to go along with 18 minutes in penalties. This would be Drulia’s last season of professional hockey and he called it a career at the age of 33.
Although he quit playing, Drulia has remained very active in the world of professional hockey. Starting as the head coach for the Orlando Seals of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League in 2002-03, he has gone on to serve as the head coach and assistant coach of many teams playing in the ECHL, IHL, and the AHL. Drulia recently accepted a job as a pro scout working for the Nashville Predators in 2018 and is still working with the organization today.
A lot of people classify a one-hit-wonder by using the example of Chris Kontos. If you were to look up the biggest one-hit wonders in NHL history, he will almost certainly be listed. Drafted in the first round, 15th overall by the New York Rangers in the 1982 NHL Draft, it is safe to say, Kontos never lived up to his hype as a player.
Kontos played junior hockey in the OHL for the Toronto Marlboros and the Sudbury Wolves. After finishing his last season of junior with the Marlboros in 1982-83, he made the jump to the NHL and finished the season with the Rangers. Kontos did a lot of jumping around as a player. For his first few seasons, he remained put with the Rangers organization but put up subpar numbers.
Kontos went over to play in Finland for part of the 1985-86 season but ended up returning to North America and playing in the AHL. He joined the Penguins organization but again did not last long with them, suiting up in only 67 games over parts of two seasons.
Over the next few years, Kontos went on to play for the Kings, the New Haven Knights of the AHL, the Phoenix Roadrunners of the IHL and even went to play in Italy before coming back and joining the Lightning for his one-hit-wonder season.
One Hit Wonder
Joining the Lightning for the start of the 1992-93 season, no one could have expected what would have come next. In his only season donning the bolt, Kontos went on to score 27 goals and added 24 assists for 51 points in 66 games played. He can be described as a shooting star and he came out of nowhere and disappeared equally as fast.
His one-hit-wonder season is one of the most well-known ones in NHL history because his previous career-high in points came in 1986-87 when he collected 17 points in 31 games played while playing for the Penguins.
After the Wonder
Kontos would go on to play professional hockey until his retirement in 1998. He never played another game in the NHL but did see stints in the IHL, Division 1 in Sweden and the DEL in Germany.
All in all, Kontos will always be one of those hockey stories that everyone looks back on in awe as no one could have predicted it. It is stories like his that make the sport of hockey so great.
That’s it for the Tampa Bay Lightning one-hit wonders. Stay tuned for the Toronto Maple Leafs one-hit wonders tomorrow.
Embed from Getty Images