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Esa Tikkanen
Esa Tikkanen 2013-04-19 001.jpg
Tikkanen in 2013
Born January 25, 1965 (1965-01-25) (age 56)
Helsinki, Finland
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for HIFK
Edmonton Oilers
New York Rangers
St. Louis Blues
New Jersey Devils
Vancouver Canucks
Florida Panthers
Washington Capitals
Jokerit
Essen Mosquitoes
Anyang Halla
National team Flag of Finland.svg Finland
NHL Draft 80th overall, 1983
Edmonton Oilers
Playing career 1983–2001
2004–2005

Esa Tikkanen (born January 25, 1965) is a Finnish former professional ice hockey forward. He played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, and the Washington Capitals, and won the Stanley Cup five times in his career, including in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990 with the Oilers, and 1994 with the Rangers.

Background and early career

Esa Tikkanen began his career in hockey as a little boy by being a mascot for Jokerit, a team based in Helsinki, but joined another local team HJK in juniors. After spending a year in Canada in 1981–82 with the Regina Blues of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, Tikkanen returned to Finland and signed a contract with HIFK. Tikkanen was drafted in the fourth round (80th overall) by the Oilers in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. In 1984–85, he played 36 games for HIFK in the Finnish SM-liiga before joining the Oilers during their 1985 playoff run. He played briefly in the American Hockey League for the Oilers' affiliate the Nova Scotia Oilers in 1985–86, before joining the team full-time.

NHL playing career

Start in Edmonton

Tikkanen made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers during the second game of the 1985 Stanley Cup playoffs. By playing one game in the finals that year, he was eligible to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup even before playing his first regular-season game in the NHL. He soon became an important part of the Oilers, playing on the team's first line with Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. Kurri and Gretzky's roles were to score goals; Tikkanen was the line's defensive player. Oilers coach and general manager Glen Sather once suggested that Tikkanen should be awarded the Frank J. Selke trophy (the award for the best defensive forward in the NHL). He was a finalist several times in his career, but never won the award. Tikkanen excelled at distracting and confusing opponents with his Tiki-Talk and shadowed Gretzky when he was with the Los Angeles Kings. Between 1986 and 1990, Tikkanen scored 30 or more goals three times and was on three more Cup champions. In 1991, he led the Edmonton Oilers in points in the regular season with 69 points.

Time after Oilers

In March 1993, Tikkanen was traded to the New York Rangers for Doug Weight, and he was part of that team's 1994 Stanley Cup victory, scoring 22 goals and 54 points in 83 regular-season games. In July 1994, Tikkanen was traded with Doug Lidster to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Petr Nedvěd.

The start of the NHL's 1994–95 season was delayed by a lockout, during which Tikkanen returned to Finland to play for HIFK Helsinki. After the lockout Tikkanen, played with the Blues during the shortened 1995 season, and appeared in 11 games in 1995-96 before a trade sent him to the New Jersey Devils. Three weeks later he was again dealt, this time to the Vancouver Canucks.

The 1996–97 season saw him involved in yet another midseason trade, back to the Rangers, in March. Although he contributed only one goal in 14 regular-season games with New York, he came alive in the playoffs, scoring 9 times in 15 games. Of the Rangers, only Gretzky, with 10, outscored Tikkanen. The Rangers eliminated the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils before falling to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference finals.

The 32-year-old Tikkanen became a free agent in the summer of 1997, and he signed with the Panthers, but this would also prove to be a short stay. By March 1998 he had appeared in only 28 games, and Florida traded him to the Washington Capitals for Dwayne Hay. He appeared in all 21 of Washington's playoff games, as the Capitals went to the Stanley Cup finals, where they were swept in four straight games by the Detroit Red Wings. Tikkanen is remembered for missing a wide-open shot on goal that would have iced Game 2, which has been described as a turning point of the Series. This was to be Tikkanen's last full season in the NHL. After becoming a free agent prior to the 1998–99 season, he signed for a third stint with the Rangers. However, he only played in 32 games before an injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Before the start of the 1999–2000 season, Tikkanen attended the Oilers' training camp and was offered a role of playing coach in the minors. Tikkanen declined the offer and returned to Finland, where he played a full season with Jokerit. In 877 NHL games, he had scored 244 goals and 386 assists for 630 points, while racking up 1,077 minutes in penalties. In 186 Stanley Cup playoff games, he scored 72 goals and 60 assists for 132 points, with 275 penalty minutes.

Post NHL career

In 1999–2000, Tikkanen played a season with Helsinki-based team Jokerit, a rival team of HIFK, with whom Tikkanen had played earlier in his career. Jokerit finished in second place in the SM-Liiga. In 2000–01, Tikkanen moved to Germany, where he played what was to be his last season in a recognized professional league for Essen Mosquitoes of the DEL. He retired in 2001.

During the 2004–05 season, Tikkanen resurfaced again, this time as a player-coach for the Anyang Halla, a South Korean team in the Asia League Ice Hockey. Though he predicted that he and his two linemates would finish 1-2-3 in scoring, he finished tied for fourth on his team, with 8 goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 30 games. He was 29th in the league in assists, and didn't crack the top 30 in goals or points. He did, however, lead Halla in penalty minutes with 58 (tied for 28th in the league). Halla finished fifth in the league and did not make the playoffs.

After one season in Korea, Tikkanen became the coach for Frisk Tigers of the Norwegian GET-ligaen. Tikkanen was head coach only for the 2005–06 season.

On 27 December 2010 Jokipojat from Joensuu, Finland, announced that Tikkanen would be the head coach of the team for the rest of the 2010–2011 season. Jokipojat plays in Mestis, which is the second-highest league in Finland.

International play

Esa Tikkanen
Medal record
Competitor for Finland Finland
Men's ice hockey
Olympic Games
Bronze 1998 Nagano Ice hockey
World Championships
Bronze 2000 Russia Ice hockey
World Junior Championships
Silver 1984 Sweden Ice hockey

Esa Tikkanen played 81 games for Finnish National team.

Tikkanen participated in two Canada Cups, 5 World Championship tournaments and the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Notable achievements

Tikkanen won the Stanley Cup four times as a member of the Oilers and once more as a member of the Rangers. His various acquisitions were by teams craving him for his playoff experience and success: in 877 regular season games he scored 244 goals, but in 186 playoff games he scored 72 goals which puts him 14th all time in NHL playoff scoring, and 38th all time in play-offs points with 132points. "Tik" was known for his ability to score clutch goals, but also for his general style of play—chippy and aggressive. He was nicknamed "The Grate One" (a pun on teammate Gretzky's moniker "The Great One") for his ability to irritate opposing players, often just by talking to them in his Finnish-English "Tikkanese" or "Tiki-Talk." His regular-season totals were 244 goals, 386 assists, and 1077 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he added 72 goals, 60 assists, and 275 penalty minutes. Tikkanen also led the Edmonton Oilers with 69 points in the 1990-91 regular season. Tikkanen holds the NHL record for scoring two shorthanded goals in the shortest time (10 seconds apart). With 436 points and 178 goals as a member of Edmonton Oilers, he is rank 10th in points and 8th in goals in Edmonton Oilers all-time scoring leader. He's also 6th in Edmonton all-time scoring leader in team play-offs with 97 points, and 5th in goals with 51. He is also tied 20th all-time regular season short-handed goals leader with 29. He is also tied 4th all-time in play-offs overtime goals leader with 4 goals.

He appeared in an episode of the Trailer Park Boys:Out of the Park in 2016.

In the 2009 book 100 Ranger Greats, the authors ranked Tikkanen at No. 85 all-time of the 901 New York Rangers who had played during the team's first 82 seasons.

His #5 jersey has been retired by Jokerit.

Tikkanese

Tikkanen is famous for his Finnish-English, sometimes referred to as "Tikkanese" or "Tiki-Talk." Even members of his team often did not understand what he was saying. Wayne Gretzky once commented, "He brings something special. I don't know what it is, but if you ask him, you couldn't understand his answer." Former Edmonton Oiler coach and teammate Craig MacTavish said, "Esa talks twice as much as anybody else. That's because you can understand just half what he says."

Even fellow Finn Jari Kurri was not immune from the confusing language. During their tenure with the Oilers, Tikkanen let go with a particularly colorful pronouncement, after which another player turned to Kurri and asked, "What did he just say?" Kurri simply shook his head; "I have no idea."

Personal life

Esa Tikkanen has been married twice. His first wife was Swedish Ann Charlotte (Lotta) Kraft and they have two daughters, Sabrina and Stephanie. Tikkanen separated after 17 years of marriage in 2000. Tikkanen got engaged to Finnish top model Marita Hakala in 2001. In 2004, Esa Tikkanen married Tua Backman. They have two sons and a daughter that were born in 2009. The couple divorced in 2014.

Awards and achievements

  • 1982–83 – SM-Liiga – Kanada-malja (HIFK)
  • 1984–85NHLStanley Cup (Edmonton)
  • 1986–87 – NHL – Stanley Cup (Edmonton)
  • 1987–88 – NHL – Stanley Cup (Edmonton)
  • 1989–90 – NHL – Stanley Cup (Edmonton)
  • 1993–94 – NHL – Stanley Cup (New York Rangers)
  • Clarence S. Campbell Bowl – NHL – (Edmonton) (4): 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990.
  • Prince of Wales Trophy – NHL – (New York Rangers) and (Washington Capitals) (2): 1994, 1998.
  • Matti Keinonen trophy for best plus/minus in the SM-liiga – 1985
  • Tikkanen's number 5 was retired by Jokerit in 2001. The decision was seen by some as controversial due to Tikkanen only ever having played one season professionally for Jokerit as opposed to his four seasons spent with the local rivals HIFK. The number 5 as opposed to the number 10 Tikkanen commonly wore during his professional career stems from the sweater made by his great-grandmother that Tikkanen wore while acting as a Jokerit mascot, at the time Jokerit owner Aimo Mäkinen had promised to young Tikkanen that he would retire it someday.
  • Tikkanen finished as runner-up for the Frank J. Selke Trophy three times.

Tikkanen, the racehorse

The 1994 Breeders' Cup Turf was won by Tikkanen, a Thoroughbred racehorse named in Esa Tikkanen's honor by George W. Strawbridge, Jr., owner of Augustin Stable and an active director of the Buffalo Sabres NHL ice hockey club and a member of the team's executive committee for more than thirty years. [1] [2]

Transactions

  • March 17, 1993 – Traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the New York Rangers in exchange for Doug Weight.
  • July 24, 1994 – Traded by the New York Rangers, along with Doug Lidster to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Petr Nedvěd.
  • November 1, 1995 – Traded by the St. Louis Blues to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for New Jersey's 1997 3rd round draft choice.
  • November 23, 1995 – Traded by the New Jersey Devils to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Vancouver's 1996 2nd round draft choice.
  • March 8, 1997 – Traded by the Vancouver Canucks, along with Russ Courtnall, to the New York Rangers in exchange for Sergei Nemchinov and Brian Noonan.
  • September 17, 1997 – Signed as a free agent with the Florida Panthers.
  • March 9, 1998 – Traded by the Florida Panthers to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Dwayne Hay and future considerations.
  • October 9, 1998 – Signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers.

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1981–82 Regina Blues SJHL 59 38 37 75 216
1981–82 Regina Pats WHL 2 0 0 0 0
1982–83 HIFK FIN U20 30 34 31 65 104 4 4 3 7 10
1982–83 HIFK SM-l 1 0 0 0 2
1983–84 HIFK FIN U20 6 5 9 14 13 4 4 3 7 8
1983–84 HIFK SM-l 36 19 11 30 30 2 0 1 1 0
1984–85 HIFK SM-l 36 21 34 55 42
1984–85 Edmonton Oilers NHL 3 0 0 0 2
1985–86 Edmonton Oilers NHL 35 7 6 13 28 8 3 2 5 7
1986–87 Edmonton Oilers NHL 76 34 44 78 120 21 7 2 9 22
1987–88 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 23 51 74 153 19 10 17 27 72
1988–89 Edmonton Oilers NHL 67 31 47 78 92 7 1 3 4 12
1989–90 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 30 33 63 161 22 13 11 24 26
1990–91 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 27 42 69 85 18 12 8 20 24
1991–92 Edmonton Oilers NHL 40 12 16 28 44 16 5 3 8 8
1992–93 Edmonton Oilers NHL 66 14 19 33 76
1992–93 New York Rangers NHL 15 2 5 7 18
1993–94 New York Rangers NHL 83 22 32 54 114 23 4 4 8 34
1994–95 HIFK SM-l 19 2 11 13 16
1994–95 St. Louis Blues NHL 43 12 23 35 22 7 2 2 4 20
1995–96 St. Louis Blues NHL 11 1 4 5 18
1995–96 New Jersey Devils NHL 9 0 2 2 4
1995–96 Vancouver Canucks NHL 38 13 24 37 14 6 3 2 5 2
1996–97 Vancouver Canucks NHL 62 12 15 27 66
1996–97 New York Rangers NHL 14 1 2 3 6 15 9 3 12 26
1997–98 Florida Panthers NHL 28 1 8 9 16
1997–98 Washington Capitals NHL 20 2 10 12 2 21 3 3 6 20
1998–99 New York Rangers NHL 32 0 3 3 38
1999–2000 Jokerit SM-l 43 10 13 23 85 11 1 6 7 10
2000–01 Essen Mosquitoes DEL 46 8 21 29 81
2004–05 Anyang Halla Winia ALH 30 8 17 25 58
NHL totals 877 244 386 630 1077 186 72 60 132 275
SM-l totals 135 52 69 121 173 14 1 7 8 12

International

Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1982 Finland EJC 5 3 2 5 2
1983 Finland WJC 7 2 3 5 5
1983 Finland EJC 5 2 1 3 14
1984 Finland WJC 7 8 4 12 12
1985 Finland WJC 7 7 12 19 10
1985 Finland WC 10 4 5 9 12
1987 Finland CC 5 0 1 1 6
1989 Finland WC 8 4 4 8 14
1991 Finland CC 6 2 2 4 6
1993 Finland WC 6 0 0 0 2
1996 Finland WC 1 0 0 0 0
1998 Finland OLY 6 1 1 2 0
2000 Finland WC 9 2 1 3 10
Junior totals 31 22 22 44 43
Senior totals 51 13 14 27 50
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