Thursday

Todd Okerlund

Todd Okerlund starred at the University of Minnesota, played in the 1988 Olympic Games and appeared in the National Hockey League. Despite Todd's achievements, he will never be able to live down the thing that he is most famous for.

He is Mean Gene's son!

Mean Gene you ask? You know, Mean Gene Okerlund, the long time wrestling announcer. He's the short bald guy who interviews Hulk Hogan every week.

Hockey and professional wrestling actually have an interesting history together. Hockey Hall of Famer Lionel Conacher wrestled both as an amateur and professional. Former Montreal Canadien Ted Irvine's son went on to wrestle. He's better known as Chris Jericho. Red Wings tough guy Darren McCarty once got involved in a staged pushing match with "Hardcore" Holly. Bret "the Hitman" Hart and the late Owen Hart grew up in Calgary and were big hockey fans. Bret even teamed up with Theo Fleury among others to bring the WHL junior league to Calgary. The team of course was called the Hitmen! And Brett Hull has been seen hanging out with Goldberg.

While Todd Okerlund grew up in a wrestling family, it was hockey that captured his sporting heart. Born and raised in Burnsfield, Minnesota, Okerlund went on to star at the University of Minnesota. Though not the greatest skater or scorer, Okerlund was a physical presnce and a good playmaker from the right wing.

Okerlund, who was drafted by the New York Islanders 168th overall in 1982 straight out of high school, blew out his knee after just 4 games in his senior year at the University. Not only did that put Okerlund's hockey development back a year, but it also affected his already average skating.

Okerlund joined the United States National team for the 1987-88 season. He realized it was highly unlikely he'd make the Islanders that year and rather than riding the busses in the minor leagues, Todd thought if he had a good season with the Nats, he could very well be part of the US Olympic Team at the winter games in Calgary Albert. Okerlund did play well enough to make that team, and even scored 1 goal in 3 Olympic games.

Following the Olympics, Okerlund was recalled by the Islanders. Todd played in 4 games with the Isles, and also saw 13 games with the Isles AHL farm team.

Okerlund retired from hockey following that season. He had been suffering from a chronic back problem which required major surgery. In all likelihood Okerlund could have come back from that surgery to play minor league hockey, but missing that year and his last year of college hockey would have set him back so far that he would likely never make the NHL. He wasn't expected to be anything more than a 4th line role player at the NHL level, or even the minor league levels some scouts say. So Okerlund decided to walk away from the game healthy, content to know that because of hockey he had earned a college education, played in the Olympics and appeared in the National Hockey League.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

FYI: Should be "Burnsville, MN" -- not "Burnsfield".

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP