Former Devils Star, Brian Rafalski, Elected To US Hockey Hall of Fame
The United States Hockey Hall of Fame announced their 2014 Induction class on August 6, 2014. Former New Jersey Devils Defenseman, Brian Rafalski, was one of those honorees.
Rafalski, a Dearborn, Michigan native, began his 11 year National Hockey League career during the 1999-2000 season, helping the Devils win the Stanley Cup and receiving NHL All-Rookie Team honors. Three years later he hoisted the Cup for a second time with the Devils. In 541 regular season games with New Jersey, Rafalski, racked up 44 goals and 311 points. He was selected to represent the Devils in the 2004 and the 2007 NHL All-Star Games.
His final four season in the NHL he represented his hometown Detroit Red Wings, helping them hoist the Cup in 2008. In the 204 regular season games for the Red Wings he amassed 204 points. His 515 career points are 10th best amongst American defenseman in the history of the NHL.
Rafalski’s first four years of his professional career began in 1995, in Sweden and Finland. Internationally he was a member of the U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey Team at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. He helped Team USA win a Silver in the 2002 and the 2010 Games. At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, he was named by the media All-Star Team and honored as the tournament’s best defenseman after registering four goals and eight points in six games. Over the three Olympics, he amassed five goals and eight assists in 17 games.
Over the four years playing at the University of Wisconsin, he scored 20 goals and a total of 98 points in 146 games. His senior year he received a number of accolades, including American Hockey Coaches Association West All America First Team, Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Year and All-WCHA First Team.
He also played for the 2004 U.S. World Cup of Hockey Team, 1995 U.S. Men’s National Team, and the 1992 and 1993 U.S. Junior Teams. Rafalski spent two seasons playing junior hockey as well. 1990-1991 with the Madison Capitols of the United States Hockey League and 1989-1990 with the Melvindale Blades in the North American Hockey League.
Rafalski will be enshrined on December 4 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, along with Karen Bye Dietz, 1992-2002 U.S. Woman’s National Team, Jeff Sauer, University of Wisconsin coach and Lou Vairo, longtime coach at various levels of the game. Sauer, happened to be Rafalski’s coach at Wisconsin as well. USA Hockey President, Ron DeGregorio, was quoted as saying “The class of 2014 is an extraordinary collection of individuals that have had an immensely positive impact on hockey in our country. Cumulatively, they have been involved at every level of hockey and this group is a big reason why our sport has advanced to the point is has in the United States.”
Rafalski had retired with a year to go on his contract due to health and his desire to explore new horizons. He spends most of his time now serving as a chaplain in the area around Fort Myers, Florida. Although he tried to make a comeback earlier in the past season, he said he didn’t second guess his decision to retire back in 2011. “I’m very happy God has put me back where I’m supposed to be at this time,” Rafalski said. “It’s worked out great.” On being named to USHOF, he said, “I’m very humbled and honored, it’s a very rewarding experience for myself. I wasn’t really expecting this.”
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