- Brian Rafalski
Infobox Ice Hockey Player
Detroit Red Wings
New Jersey Devils
league = NHL
position = Defense
shoots = Right
height_ft = 5
height_in = 10
weight_lb = 191
nationality = USA
birth_date = birth date and age|1973|9|28
birth_place = Dearborn, MI, U.S.
career_start = 1995
Brian Rafalski (born
September 28, 1973, in Dearborn, Michigan) is an American professional ice hockeyplayer who plays defense for the Detroit Red Wingsof the National Hockey League, having been signed as an unrestricted free agent from the New Jersey Devils. After enduring a long struggle to enter the NHL, Rafalski has won 3 Stanley Cups and become an effective defenseman in the league. In his eight seasons in the league, he has played in four Stanley Cup finals. (2000, 2001, 2003, 2008)
College and European play
Rafalski played for four years at the
University of Wisconsin-Madisonand was a proficient player, scoring 45 points in 43 games in his senior year. He won several awards that season; he was named to the WCHA First All-StarTeam, the NCAA West All-Star Team, and the WCHA Defenseman of the Year. With no immediate NHL prospects, Rafalski travelled overseas. He spent the 1995-1996 season with Brynäs IFof the Swedish elite league. After scoring only 9 points in 22 games in Sweden, he then moved to Finland. He played a season for HPKof the SM-liiga, and scored 35 points. He travelled to HIFKin 1997, where he spent two successful years. In his final year in Finland, he scored 19 goals and 53 points in 53 games, and won the Kultainen kypärä, which is the SM-liiga trophy for best player as voted by his fellow players. Notably, he also became the first non-Finnish player to win the award.
Brian Rafalski was named by the Sporting News in 1999 as the best hockey player in the world not playing in the NHL. On
May 7, 1999, Rafalski was signed by the New Jersey Devilsas a free agent. He was 26 years of age at the start of the 1999–2000 NHL season, much older than most rookies, but he had played in some of the finest leagues in Europe. He finished the season with 32 points. He led all rookie defencemen in plus-minuswith a +21 rating, second among Devils defencemen and tied for first for all rookies. Rafalski helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup that year. Along with Calder Trophywinning teammate Scott Gomez, he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.
Rafalski improved his production in his sophomore season, as he scored 52 points, which led the team. His 18 points during the playoffs set a team record for defencemen, although the Devils lost to the
Colorado Avalanchein the Stanley Cup Finals.
2001–02 NHL season, Rafalski continued his scoring ways, notching 47 points. He was selected to participate in the NHL All-Star Game, but was forced to sit out due to injury. He did go on to represent Team USA at the 2002 Winter Olympics, winning a silver medal as the US lost to Canada in the finals. The next season, he once again led all Devils defencemen in scoring with 40 points. He was a vital part of the Devils defense that helped the team win its third Stanley Cup in eight seasons, with a seven-game win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He has continued to represent America in international play, playing in both the 2004 World Cup of Hockeyand the 2006 Winter Olympics.On July 1, 2007, the Detroit Red Wingssigned Rafalski, a Michigan native, to a $30 million, five-year contract.
Rafalski set a career high in goals (11) after scoring against the St. Louis Blues on
March 5 2008. He would go on to score 13 goals for the season, amassing that amount in 73 games.
June 4, 2008, Rafalski won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, the team he grew up rooting for. He helped out the cause by scoring the first Red Wings' goal on the powerplay in the first period to help them defeat the Penguins, 3-2, in game 6.
Awards and achievements
1995- Western Collegiate Hockey AssociationDefenseman of the Year
1995- Western Collegiate Hockey Association First All-Star Team
1995- NCAA West First All-Star Team
1997- Pekka Rautakallio trophyfor best defenseman in the SM-liiga
1999- Matti Keinonen trophyfor best +/- in the SM-liiga
1999- Pekka Rautakallio trophyfor best defenseman in the SM-liiga
1999- Kultainen kypäräaward for best player in the SM-liiga
* 1999–00 -
NHL All-Rookie Team
* 1999–00 - NHL Rookie of the Month for February
* 2003–04 - Starter for Eastern Conference in
NHL All-Star Game
Brian and his wife Felicity have three sons, Danny(11), Evan(7) and Matthew(4).
He is a fan of the
Indiana Jonesmovies.Wings roster insider. http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080523/SPORTS05/805230419/1053/SPORTS05. ]
Brian and his family own a home on the Chain O' Lakes in Waupaca, Wisconsin.
2002- Won silver medal with Team USA at 2002 Winter Olympics
2004- Member of Team USA at 2004 World Cup of Hockey
2006- Member of Team USA at 2006 Winter Olympics
* [http://www.usolympicteam.com/26_12453.htm Brian's U.S. Olympic Team bio]
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