During a 19-year pro career, Dino Ciccarelli was a prolific goal-scorer and opponent agitator.
He found ways to move his small frame through the cracks of the defense and frustrate goalies with a well-placed shot.
His rise to NHL stardom began humbly when he was undrafted out of junior hockey in 1979.
Ciccarelli would soon prove his doubters wrong by amassing over 100 points in just his second pro season.
HBD to Dino Ciccarelli 🏒
He could score, and was tough as nails!
Always loved these North Stars jerseys (w/out the black mixed in)👍
— Goat Jerseys (@GoatJerseys) February 8, 2019
Though controversy would find Ciccarelli from time to time, he was eventually immortalized into the Hockey Hall of Fame a decade after he retired.
This is the story of Dino Ciccarelli.
Early Life in the Canadian Minors
Dino Ciccarelli was born on February 8, 1960 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.
Happy 62nd birthday today to former Minnesota North Stars NHL Hall of Fame right winger – Dino Ciccarelli born in Sarnia, Ontario pic.twitter.com/HzJvlc3Jl7
— Vintage MN Hockey (@VintageMNHockey) February 9, 2022
Almost from the beginning, Ciccarelli was much like a typical Canadian adolescent, drawn to the spectacle that is hockey.
By the time he was 15, Ciccarelli was a member of Sarnia’s junior ‘B’ hockey team.
In his first season, he led Sarnia with 45 goals and 43 assists for a total of 83 points.
Ciccarelli accomplished the feat in only 40 games.
His play that year led to interest from the London, Ontario, Knights of the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League.
During his first year with the club in 1976-77, Ciccarelli had 82 points in 66 games.
In the playoffs, he scored a whopping 11 goals in 24 games as the Knights lost to the Ottawa 67s in the Robertson Cup Finals.
As a 17-year-old in 1977-78, Ciccarelli led the Knights and the OMJHL in goals with 72 and also added 70 assists.
His totals that season were the third-highest totals in the league.
After scoring six goals in the playoffs, Ciccarelli was awarded the Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy for the right winger who scored the most points in the regular season.
Injuries limited Ciccarelli’s season in 1978-79, but he still scored 19 points in the regular season and eight points in the postseason for London.
Ciccarelli Signs with Minnesota
Despite Ciccarelli’s achievements with the Knights, he went undrafted in the NHL’s 1979 Entry Draft.
A broken leg sustained a few years earlier, plus his short 5’10, 185-pound frame, turned away most teams.
“I went two drafts without being picked up probably because of concerns with my leg and my size,” said Ciccarelli. “It was like no one wants to buy a horse with a broken leg. But Lou Nanne and the North Stars signed me and I made the best of it.”
The Minnesota North Stars saw enough of him at the junior level that the team signed Ciccarelli to a contract in late September of ‘79.
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) September 28, 2021
In order to get him some more ice time, the North Stars kept Ciccarelli with London in 1979-80.
He responded with a 103 point season that included 50 goals with another eight points in the playoffs (Ciccarelli’s uniform number ‘8’ would eventually be retired by the team).
Near the end of the season, Minnesota moved Ciccarelli to the Oklahoma City Stars of the Central Professional Hockey League.
He had five points in six games with Oklahoma then added 57 points for the team to begin the 1980-81 season.
With 32 games remaining in the NHL season, the North Stars finally brought Ciccarelli up to the parent club.
As Minnesota finished the regular season and eventually advanced to the ‘81 Stanley Cup Finals, Ciccarelli had 21 points in 19 games.
The Stars would fall to the New York Islanders in the Cup Finals.
Ciccarelli Breaks Out in His Second Year
Minnesota wasn’t nearly as successful in 1981-82, as they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Chicago Black Hawks.
However, Ciccarelli announced himself to the hockey world by busting loose for a team-high 55 goals and earned what would be a career-high 106 total points.
Today in 1981, defenseman Craig Hartsburg scored a goal and added two assists to lead the North Stars to a 5-5 tie against the Islanders at New York. North Stars rookie Dino Ciccarelli scored the first goal of his NHL career, and added two assists pic.twitter.com/HdPORxAup8
— Vintage MN Hockey (@VintageMNHockey) February 7, 2018
He was invited to the NHL All-Star Game that year and assisted on a goal by Wayne Gretzky.
For the next two years, Ciccarelli had over 70 points each year and contributed to the North Stars’ appearances in the postseason.
He also found himself back in the All-Star game in ‘83.
By that time, Ciccarelli had earned a reputation of parking himself by the goal crease and taking a pounding while fighting off defenders.
“I always had a passion for scoring goals and to do it you have to go into the dirty areas so I set up in front of the net,” Ciccarelli stated in 2021.
He could score from that position even with defenders draped all over him.
Ciccarelli’s gritty play brought considerable respect from his teammates and hockey peers.
Ciccarelli Leads Minnesota in Scoring
After a few down years that were hampered by injuries, Ciccarelli returned as an offensive powerhouse in 1985-86.
That season, he led the North Stars with 44 goals and 89 total points and had an assist in the playoffs as Minnesota lost in five games to the St. Louis Blues in the Division Semifinals.
In 1986-87, he led the team again with 52 goals and 103 total points, the second-highest of his career.
Controversy would find Ciccarelli off the ice when he was arrested for exposing himself to a neighbor and her son in December 1987.
He pleaded guilty to indecent exposure and received probation.
Barely eight weeks later, Ciccarelli was in trouble again, this time for conduct on the ice.
During a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ciccarelli attacked Maple Leafs rookie Luke Richardson with his stick.
30 years ago today in 1988, North Stars Dino Ciccarelli attacked/assaulted then Maple Leafs rookie Defenseman Luke Richardson with his stick over his head, and punched him in the mouth. Dino was ejected from the game at Maple Leaf Gardens, and later given a 10 game suspension pic.twitter.com/v80av0SHK9
— Vintage MN Hockey (@VintageMNHockey) January 6, 2018
The incident resulted in Ciccarelli receiving a $1,000 fine and a charge of assault with a night spent in jail.
“Luke Richardson is 6 feet, 5 inches and I’m 5 feet, 10-inches and he cross checked me right about the hockey pants and I thought I broke my ribs. I looked over at the referee and there was no call on the play. I guess the Italian blood came out of me,” said Ciccarelli years later.
For the third time in three years, Ciccarelli paced the North Stars in goals in 1987-88 with 41 goals and 86 total points.
The North Stars Trade Ciccarelli to Washington
Despite Ciccarelli’s play, Minnesota was largely deficient as a team and missed the postseason in ‘86-’87 and ‘87-’88.
In 1988-89, the North Stars were on their way to returning to the playoffs after a two-year absence.
Ciccarelli would also make his third All-Star Game during a 74 point season.
However, Stars fans were shocked when Minnesota packaged Ciccarelli and defenseman Bob Rouse to the Washington Capitals for Mike Gartner and Larry Murphy.
— The Twins Almanac (@TwinsAlmanac) March 7, 2017
During the 1989-90 season, Ciccarelli scored 41 times and added 79 points.
He would also add a hat trick during the playoffs with three goals and an assist against the New Jersey Devils.
In May of ‘90, Ciccarelli, who was with a number of Capitals teammates, was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl outside of a bar.
Although the case was later thrown out, local police shared that they had enough evidence to believe that a rape had occurred by someone in the group.
After being limited by injuries in 1990-91, Ciccarelli had 38 goals (a team-high) and 76 points in 1991-92.
He then scored four goals in a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins later in the year.
In the summer of 1992, Ciccarelli was traded again, this time to the Detroit Red Wings.
“I was ecstatic to come to the Wings because they had a great team, I was close to home and they were one of the Original Six, so it was a dream come true,” said Ciccarelli in 2021.
Right away he became a fan favorite by appearing in a career-high 82 games, scoring 41 goals and accumulating 97 points in 1992-93.
Ciccarelli’s points total was the highest since his seventh season with Minnesota.
Over the next two years, Ciccarelli scored a total of 100 points.
On January 8th, 1994, Dino Ciccarelli became the 19th player to score 500 career NHL goals! 👏 pic.twitter.com/8XYIN5JjKo
— NHL (@NHL) January 8, 2022
He was also part of a first-place Detroit team in 1994-95 that advanced all the way to the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals.
Unfortunately, just as he did in his rookie season with Minnesota, Ciccarelli experienced another loss in the Cup Finals as the Red Wings were shut out by New Jersey in four games.
In 1995-96, Detroit won 62 games, an NHL record for wins during a regular season while Ciccarelli added 43 points.
Red Wings fans were then gutted when that same team lost to the Colorado Avalanche in six games in the Conference Finals.
Following the season, Ciccarelli was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a fourth-round pick in the 1998 Entry Draft.
Ciccarelli Ends Career in Florida
Ciccarelli’s first season in Tampa Bay was productive as he led the team with 35 goals including a hat trick against Pittsburgh in November.
He would also play in the 1997 All-Star Game, recording an assist for the Eastern Conference.
On Aug. 27, 1996, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired veteran winger Dino Ciccarelli from the Detroit Red Wings for a conditional draft pick.
(Getty Images) pic.twitter.com/ZELhVT80NZ
— 90sHockeyTweets (@Hockey90s) August 27, 2021
Halfway through the 1997-98 season, Ciccarelli was traded to the Florida Panthers.
After scoring only 16 times total that season, Ciccarelli missed most of 1998-99 due to injuries and tallied seven total points.
With age and injuries catching up to him, Ciccarelli retired once the season concluded.
In 19 seasons, Ciccarelli had 608 goals, 592 assists for 1,200 total points.
He appeared in two Stanley Cup Finals and played in four All-Star Games.
Eight years after he was first eligible, Ciccarelli was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
“I really would have liked to have celebrated winning a Cup but I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to do that. So when I was inducted into the Hall it gave me a lot of satisfaction,” said Ciccarelli.
His 608 goals put him at 19th on the list of most goals in NHL history as of 2022.
Ciccarelli owned a nightclub called Club 22 (his jersey number with his last four teams) until it closed in 2011.
He then opened a restaurant called Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar Theater.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) October 2, 2013
Ciccarelli currently lives near Detroit with his wife, Lynda. The couple have four daughters and nine grandchildren.