FULLTILT LEGENDS: STEVE LARMER
Steve Larmer is part of Ranger legend. His stint in New York was brief, but magical.
When one thinks of Steve Larmer, what do you think of? Was he an all-time Ranger? Not even close! He only played in 115 games in Blue during the regular season, notching 35 goals & 54 assists for 89 points over 2 years. In the playoffs, for the Rangers, he appeared in 33 games, scoring 11 goals & 9 assists for 20 points.
Do you think of a Hall of Famer? Maybe…but he doesn’t just jump off the page and grab your attention either. Yet, contemporaries like Joe Mullen, Glenn Anderson, Lanny McDonald & Cam Neely are in the HOF while providing similar or slightly below stats of Larmer. Compare his numbers to theirs and one has to wonder why “Gramps” isn’t in the Hall?
When I think of Steve Larmer I think of consistency, a worker man’s ethic combined with a dedication and enough feistiness to get the job done. In the 1993-94 season, he did just that for the Rangers as he helped end a 54 year curse.
Larmer was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 6th round (#120 overall) of the 1980 NHL Draft. The Peterborough, Ontario native, while undersized at 5’10” and 190lbs, wasn’t a physical force, the one thing he could do really well was score. The year (1979-80) he was drafted he played for the Niagara Falls Flyers of the OHA where in 67 games he racked up 114 points on 45 goals & 69 assists. He followed that up the following year with 133 points in 61 games (55g, 78a) and he was well on his way to stardom in the NHL.
After a few cups of coffee with the Blackhawks in 1980-81 (4 games, 1 assist) & 1981-82 (3 games, 0 points), Larmer cracked the Blackhawks lineup to stay in 1982-83. He burst onto the scene winning the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year while registering 90pts (43g, 47 a) in 80 games. That was more or less the beginning of a streak in that he would never leave the Blackhawks lineup again until his forced trade to the Rangers early in the 1993-94 season.
It was his iron man streak that he was probably most famous for. He played in 884 consecutive games for the Blackhawks. It was the most by any player consecutively with one team in NHL history. In addition, he was in line to break the NHL record of Doug Jarvis but a nasty contract dispute with Blackhawks GM Bob Pulford and The Wirtz family forced Larmer to a decision. That would have implications throughout the league.
Larmer had felt he was promised certain things once he had achieved certain goals and he felt compelled to stand by his principles when those perceived slights were done to him. Instead of swallowing his pride and taking his place in history as the league’s top “Iron Man”, Larmer stood on the principles that had brought him to this point in his career – to stand up for what he felt was the right thing to do. When Chicago would not give in to his demands, he held out, forcing their hand. What turned out to be the Blackhawks loss was the Rangers gain.
In what was probably inconceivable to Blackhawks followers, Larmer would no longer be a member of the team. Pulford knew where Larmer wanted to go but there was no way he was sending him to the Rangers. Instead, the big trade actually saw Larmer traded twice as it was a three team deal. Chicago moved Larmer and Bryan Marchment to the Hartford Whalers for Eric Weinrich and Patrick Poulin. The Whalers then moved Larmer along with Nick Kypreos, Barry Richter and a draft pick for Darren Turcotte and James Patrick on November 2, 1993. This trade saw the Whalers send Larmer to the Rangers, where he was reunited with his old Blackhawks coach, Mike Keenan. The rest as they say is history.
Larmer retired after the 1994-95 season with the Rangers, even though he still had another year on his contract. Back issues had robbed him of some of his skill and he felt he was no longer able to compete at the level that he expected of himself. He did stay in the game as a member of the NHLPA but, like his tenure in Chicago, that ended in acrimony as well.
Larmer resigned from his role in the NHLPA in mid November of 2005 due to a dispute on how the NHLPA president Ted Saskin was appointed. Saskin was appointed to the position as opposed to being voted in by the players. “What has happened over the last nine months, and more so in the last 90 days, has led me to make a tough decision,” Larmer said in his letter of resignation. “I am resigning because this organization has taken a giant step backwards, back to the days of [Alan] Eagleson, where a select few made decisions for the group.”
It was making sacrifices, like this, for the greater good of the sport that has made Steve Larmer, a man of principle and pride, a true hockey legend.