Welcome to a reoccurring feature here at the Ryan Coke Experience: Newfies in hockey. Periodically, I will be profiling different players that made it to the NHL (keep in mind, the number is less than 25, so I might start eventually stretching that to non-NHL players as well).
Do you remember: Dwayne Norris?
How good could St. John’s native Dwayne Norris have been?
According to Wikipedia: “Don Cherry once referred to Norris as “one of the best damn skaters to come out of this country”. Cherry also stated numerous times that he should have been given more ice time in Quebec and Anaheim.”
Cherry knows what he is talking about. Norris definitely had the stats before being drafted. With Michigan State University. In the 1989-90 season, the right-winger had 45 points in 36 games and eventually became its captain.
He also represented Canada at the world junior championships that season, the first Newfie to ever do so. From the Hockey Hall of Fame web site:
“Norris scored six points in seven games when Canada won the gold medal at the 1990 World Junior Championships. The pinnacle of the tournament was Norris’ winning goal in a 2-1 win over Czechoslovakia that clinched the championship.”
(For a great in-depth article on this, check out this 2009 story from the Evening Telegram.)
That June, he was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the seventh round, 127th overall. He stayed with MSU, and finished his fourth year there (in 1991-92) with 44 goals and 83 points in 44 games. That season, he was an NCAA First Team All American.
The next season, he went to the AHL and the Halifax Citadels, and was a point-per-game player there in his first full season.
In the 1993-94 season, he took some time off to compete in the Olympics. He captained the men’s ice hockey team, the last Olympics to not allow NHL players there. The team took home silver, losing in a shootout in the gold medal game (Peter Forsberg scored his famous medal-winning shootout goal in that game, which later became immortalized on a stamp).
For some reason, he never had the opportunity to play in the NHL. He had only 20 games with Nordiques and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the NHL, and bounced around the AHL for a while. However, he continued to be a point-per-game player wherever he went in the AHL or the IHL.
Starting with the 1996-97 season, Norris went to Germany to play. He was elected team captain right away, and stayed with Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks). In 2002, he won a championship with the team. He scored the game winner in all three games in the best-of-five series.
In 2003, he went to the Frankfurt Lions, became the captain, and helped that team win the championship, scoring nine goals in 15 playoff games. In 2007, he retired, and pulled a Garth Snow, becoming general manager of the Lions. The team was competitive on the ice, finishing second last year, but folded because of financial problems.
Where ever Norris went, he was a leader and winner. But for some reason, he could never stick with an NHL club, which is too bad. It would have been great to see him play in North America for a few years, and it’s always a good thing to have more Newfies in the NHL.