Mick Vukota

Mick Vukota was a tough guy. He survived playing in the NHL due to his willingness to drop the gloves and do the dirty work along the boards and in the corners. By doing so Mick participated in 11 NHL seasons and 574 games..

There was little else that Vukota's game offered any of the teams he played for. He could do very little with the puck on the fly and his offensive contributions were limited to banging for loose pucks in the crease. He was also a poor skater in terms of agility which limited his all-around physical game. He could crunch you with a good bodycheck but only if he could catch you. At times he was a defensive liability as he tended to wander out of position.

With that being said, he was a valuable member of the teams he was on, and every single one of his teammates will attest to that. Like many tough guys, Mick was a great team player. Every team needs a guy like him in the dressing room or on the bench. His contributions on the ice might never have been appreciated, but his off ice offerings were a big part of a team concept as well. Mick's other great contribution to the team was his leadership. An exceptional team man, Vukota played an important role with the New York Islanders for several seasons as a popular and charismatic leader in a young Islanders dressing room. He knew how to encourage his teammates as well as keep them loose.

Of course, his role of enforce was obvious. He was pretty good at using the enforcer role for his team's advantage. He knew how to pick his spots well. He wouldn't fight just for the sake of fighting, instead using fighting as a tactic (like it should be) to change the game's tempo. In that regard he was an upper-echelon fighter.

Vukota perhaps will never be remembered as one of hockey's famous (or is that infamous) goons like Tiger Williams or Hammer Schultz, but he always showed up and never let the other team take advantage of one of his players.

Mick was never drafted by an NHL team. After a penalty filled junior career with the WHL's Spokane Chiefs, the Islanders signed Vukota in the summer of 1987 with the idea that he could fill a minor league tough guy role. Judging by his WHL leading 337 penalty minutes in his last year of junior, it was pretty obvious that Mick would be willing to do the job. The Isles never really expected much else from Mick, but were pleasantly surprised by his play in 52 games with the team's AHL affiliate. Mick was called up by the end of season, and played in 17 games plus 2 more in the playoffs.

Mick made the Isles lineup on a full time basis the following year, although he played in just 48 games due to injuries. But by 1989-90 Mick played a career high 76 games and added career highs with 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points and +10 rating. Three of those goals actually came in one game!. Mick's only NHL hat trick was a natural one as he scored 3 consecutive goals against Washington on October 20, 1989). His 290 PIM that season was just three minutes shy of his career high of 293 set two years later.

Mick played 10 years on Long Island. He was a regular player for 5 consecutive seasons, but injuries limited his role in his later years there. In his final season, 1996-97, he was actually demoted to the minor leagues where he finished the season.

The following year he returned to the NHL after the Tampa Bay Lightning claimed him in the waiver draft, though he finished the year in Montreal as he was part of a big trade involving Stephane Richer going to the Bolts.

Vukota played only 22 games in Montreal before disappearing to the minor leagues to finish out his career.
Mick played in 574 games, scoring just 17 times and assisting on 29 others. His most telling stat is his 2071 well earned penalty minutes. He'll be remembered as a very good fighter, and a great team man.

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