Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins on their fourth Stanley Cup victory. They deserved it, although I feel the Conn Smythe should have gone to (in order of deservedness) Phil Kessel, Matt Murray, Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks, Kris Letang or Brent Burns (also of the Sharks) - not Sidney Crosby. But the NHL has a legend to build and a story line to justify having pre-written, so Sid it was.
Which brings me to Zigmund Palffy, a Slovak national who had terrific seasons with the New York Islanders (331 points in 331 games including three 40-goal seasons) and Los Angeles Kings (340 points in 311 games, the result of five point-per-game seasons in five years), and played his final NHL season accomplishing the same feat with the Pens in 2005-06.
After initially retiring from hockey, he came back in the Slovak league for a final five seasons with Hokejový Klub 36 Skalica, posting ridiculous totals from 2007 until his retirement after the 2012-13 season, including league records for goals (52) and points (99) in 2008-09. In 53 games.
He also suited up for Team Slovakia on numerous occasions, earning a gold medal at the 2002 World Championships, bronze at the 2003 Worlds, leading the Olympic tournament in assists and points in 1994 and being a veteran member on the awesome 2002 Olympic team that finished fourth.
He was also old enough to play for then-Czekoslovakia, 1991 and 1992 World Juniors (winning bronze at the former) and also the 1991 Canada Cup.
Here he is with the Pens, on card #AF-ZP from Upper Deck's 2005-06 SP Game-Used Edition set and Authentic Fabrics sub-set:
The 26th overall pick of the 1991 draft also finished fifth in Lady Byng voting in 2000-01 while with the Kings, and is often thought of as underrated at best or underappreciated by a lot of folks. Perhaps it's because his story line hadn't been pre-written. We're talking about a guy who was a point-per-game player and a 40-goal man in the Dead Puck Era. Had he not played on Long Island and on the West Coast for most of his career, he definitely would have won some hardware and appeared in more than just three All-Star Games.
Here's a video montage of a few of his goals with the Kings: