Be A Player: Rewind | Steve Sullivan
Steve Sullivan and a memorable moment with a fan are featured in our last trip down memory lane through the Be A Player: Rewind series!
1,011 NHL GP (NJD, TOR, CHI, NSH, PIT, PHX)
290 G, 457 A, 747 PTS
Bill Masterton Trophy winner (2008-09)
The year was 2001, the host was Craig Simpson, and the player was Steve Sullivan.
Sullivan, originally selected in the ninth round of the 1994 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils, went on to reach one of the most impressive NHL milestones you can accomplish by skating in over 1,000 regular-season games. He played in his 1,011th with the club he began his career with, bring his journey full circle after representing the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the club then known as the Phoenix Coyotes.
Along the way Sullivan hit career highs in his second full season with the Blackhawks, during which this episode was aired, by posting 34 goals and 75 points.
During his time with Blackhawks, a time that predated the updated safety measures at NHL arenas that include netting to protect fans, Sullivan was involved in one of the most memorable on-ice exchanges in league history through a series of karmic events – of course, it's discussed in full in this week's episode!
Yet to occur at the time of airing, Sullivan spent six seasons in Nashville between 2005 and 2011. He ended the 2008-09 season with a franchise first by becoming the first Predator to receive the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, presented annually "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
“Given all this award stands for, and the players who have won it in the past, to receive it is a tremendous honor,” Sullivan said at the time. “It has been a long journey full of highs and lows, but my return to the ice never would have been possible without my family, doctors, trainers and teammates who never lost belief in me.”
Sullivan was acknowledged for his return to play Jan. 10, 2009, which led to him eventually posting 27 points in 25 games to close out the regular season after missing an extended amount of time due to a back injury that occurred Feb. 22, 2007. Exactly 687 days separated his departure from the ice to his return, making him just the third player in the post-World War II era to miss over 600 days due to injury – a list that includes Jim Peplinski and Mario Lemieux.
Then and now
"The Timmins Tornado" retired after rejoining the Devils for nine games in the 2012-13 season. His No. 26 has since been retired by the Timmins Rock, known as the Golden Bears during his time in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
After spending a year away from hockey, Sullivan rejoined the the Coyotes franchise as a player development coach in 2014. He eventually took on the director role before before being promoted to the club's assistant general manager position.
"I'm very excited about my new role with the Coyotes," said Sullivan at the time of his promotion. "I'm very grateful to John for his belief in me and look forward to helping him build a winning team in the Valley for years to come. We have a great nucleus of young, talented players in our organization and an extremely bright future ahead."