Sunday, February 27, 2011

Nelson Emerson

Nelson Emerson was a crafty little player in St. Louis, Winnipeg and Hartford before bouncing around the league. He was a speedster with a real nice skill set perhaps best known for his uncanny harmonious play on the opposite wing of power forward Brendan Shanahan in both St. Louis and Hartford.

Emerson was a real speedster, darting in and out of traffic. His balance overcame his lack of size, as did playing with a brute like Shanny. But Emerson was very complimentary too, showing creativity with quick give and go passes and setting up behind the net. He was a master puck dangler.

That helped him become a power play specialist. He could operate on the point because of an excellent, low point shot, or down low where he lured defenders out of position with his patience.

Emerson's speed and intelligence made him a natural on the penalty kill as well.

As versatile and as creative as he was, Emerson was always a complimentary player, albeit an almost a perfect one at that.

The Blues drafted Emerson 44th overall in 1985. Their patience with him was rewarded. He moved on to play for Bowling Green for the next four seasons, being named as a Hobey Baker finalist an amazing three times. He became the school's all time leading scorer and was later named to the school's Hall of Fame.

After one monster season in the minor leagues, Emerson joined the Blues full time in 1991-92. In the next two seasons became a 25 goal and 70 point threat.

The Blues were impatient and hungry for their first Stanley Cup, and began trading away top young talent in return for veteran help. He was moved to Winnipeg in exchange for offensive defenseman Phil Housley.

Emerson put his best numbers of his career, scoring 33 goals and 74 points. But the Jets turned around and flipped Emerson to Hartford after just one season.

It was a great gamble for Hartford, as they had previously acquired Brendan Shanahan. Reuniting this dynamic duo did not garner as much offensive returns as was hoped, even though Emerson chipped in 29 goals.

Shanahan left Hartford the final season and Emerson's offensive numbers went into a tailspin. He would never return to the same offensive numbers even in stops with Carolina (where Hartford relocated), Chicago, Ottawa, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

In 771 NHL games Nelson Emerson tallied 195 goals, 293 assists and 488 points.


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