There has been a pair of Vermont-born athletes to play in the National Hockey League and many who played their college hockey in state that have played in the league.
The NHL begins its abbreviated, 56-game regular season on Wednesday, so it’s a perfect time to look at the guys who have reached the pinnacle of the sport.
HomegrownJust like with the other major sports, finding athletes from Vermont that played on America’s biggest stage and can be few and far between.
In hockey, there’s nobody from the state better than St. Albans product John LeClair.
While in St. Albans, he led BFA to the Division I state championship and had 84 points in 23 games his senior season.
He went on to play at the University of Vermont, where he had 116 career points.
LeClair was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1987 and signed with the Habs after his time at UVM.
He developed into a star in the NHL, with five all-star appearances. The left winger was known for being a ferocious goal scorer, alongside linemates Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg with the Philadelphia Flyers. The group was known as the “Legion of Doom.”
Early in his career, the 2012 Vermont Sports Hall of Famer was a member of the Canadiens’ 1993 Stanley Cup-winning team.
He was twice an Olympian and has a silver medal from the 2002 Games. LeClair finished his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007.
The only other player to be born in Vermont and play in the NHL is Stowe High graduate Graham Mink.
Mink, a right winger, won a pair of state championships with the Raiders and moved onto UVM, where he was a standout his junior year.
Mink bounced around in the American Hockey League, the affiliate league of the NHL, for most of his career, but he did see action in seven NHL games, registering five shots.
Outside of the Vermont-born Catamounts, there have been many more UVM players that have played in the NHL.
Including those two, there’s been 17 in total.
Eric Perrin, Martin St. Louis and Tim Thomas were at UVM at the height of the program’s power. The trio played a key role in the Catamounts’ run to the Frozen Four in 1996, where they were eliminated by Colorado College in a 4-3 double overtime thriller.
Perrin holds the program’s all-time goals mark, while St. Louis owns the all-time points record.
St. Louis’ NHL accolades are plenty. Twice he was the league’s leading point scorer. He was a six-time NHL all-star and was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2003-04. Best known for his long tenure with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2004, the first in their history. In 2018, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Thomas is a household name among New England hockey fans, playing a critical role in the Boston Bruins winning their 2011 Stanley Cup and winning the Vezina Trophy, which goes to the league’s top goaltender, twice.
Perrin played in parts of four seasons in the NHL with the Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers, scoring 32 career goals.
Defenseman Aaron Miller had a lengthy NHL career, following his time at UVM, playing with three different teams. He started with the Quebec Nordiques, who became the Colorado Avalanche, before moving on to the Los Angeles Kings and finishing his career with the Vancouver Canucks.
Miller had 25 goals and 94 assists in his 14-year career.
UVM teammates in 2006-2007, Torrey Mitchell and Viktor Stålberg, both developed into NHL regulars. Mitchell had 67 goals in 10 seasons and Stålberg, a 2013 champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, had 82 goals in eight seasons.
Patrick Sharp is the winningest UVM product to play in the NHL. Sharp won three Stanley Cups, all coming with the Blackhawks. He had 620 points during his lengthy NHL career that wrapped up in 2018.
The only UVM player currently playing in the NHL is Kevan Miller, who has been a defenseman for the Bruins since 2013.
The other UVM players to play in the NHL were: Connor Brickley (LW), Tom Draper (G), Brayden Irwin (F), Michael Paliotta (D), Dave Reece (G), Jamie Sifers (G) and Christian Soucy (G).
NorwichKeith Aucoin holds the distinction as the most successful Cadet to play in the NHL.
Aucoin had a nine-year NHL career and played in 145 games, scoring 17 goals and dishing out 32 assists.
He went on to play overseas before retiring from hockey in 2018.
Kurtis McLean, who is still playing professionally in Finland, was a standout for Norwich, becoming the first four-time first-team Division III All-American.
McLean had a cup of coffee in the NHL, getting the call-up in January 2009. He played in four NHL games and scored his lone goal in the second career game.
Frank Simonetti played in 115 games for the Bruins across four seasons in the mid-1980s. The defenseman had five career goals, one of which being a game-winner.
Recently-graduated Norwich goaltender Tom Aubrun could be the next Cadet to find his way in the NHL. He is currently playing for the Indy Fuel, the ECHL affiliate of the Blackhawks.
MiddleburyPhil Latreille is the lone Middlebury College men’s hockey player to play in the NHL.
He played in four games for the New York Rangers during the 1960-61 season.
Latreille is a legend in Middlebury lore, having scored a NCAA-record 250 goals.
He was named to the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Off the ice
Rutland High graduate Nick Boles doesn’t flex his muscles on the NHL ice, but is a critical part of the operation with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Boles, a 2014 RHS alumnus, works as an account executive in the business development department with the Canes.