I mentioned Petr Klima yesterday and how he's been a teacher at Roman Hamrlik's hockey school for the past few summers, so I thought today might be a good time to induct him as #85 in my Oilers Numbers Project with these two cards:
Klima was the Detroit Red Wings' fifth-round draft pick (86th overall) in 1983, part of an amazing draft that also brought Steve Yzerman, Bob Probert, Joey Kocur, Lane Lambert and Stu Grimson to Motor City; he eventually made his way to Detroit for the 1985-86 season, where he scored an impressive 32 goals as a rookie, then 30, then 37, before cooling down and running into some, uh, disciplinary issues with Probert. Both players had a tendency to drink heavily and snort white powder in the middle of the night...
This led the Wings to play hardball with Klima, having him spend part of the 1988-89 season with their AHL affiliate Adirondack Red Wings, where he scored 5 goals (with an assist) in 5 games, which, when added to the 25 he scored in the NHL, also adds up to 30 that year.
The following season, he had 5 goals and 5 assists (10 points) in 13 games when the Wings sent him to the Edmonton Oilers with Joe Murphy, Adam Graves and Jeff Sharples in exchange for Detroit native Jimmy Carson and long-time Oiler Kevin McClelland, and he posted 53 points (25 goals and 28 assists) in 63 games with the Oilers to again reach the 30-goal mark that year.
He would reach the 40-goal plateau the following season before spiraling out of North American hockey radars for the next decade, unable to repeat his past success with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins, then failing in comeback attempts with the Oilers and Wings.
For many, his greatest on-ice accomplishment is his contribution to the Oilers' 1990 Stanley Cup championship, when he scored the winning goal in triple overtime against former Oiler Andy Moog, after having been benched for most of the game:
Much has been said about Klima, and a lot of it was negative: lazy, a waste of talent, addict - but it's hard to assign those adjectives to a guy who has had five 30-plus-goal seasons in the NHL, a Cup, and another 30-goal season split between two leagues.
Then again, it was the high-scoring 1980s.
Here's what I have to say, as an Oiler fan growing up in the 80s: Klima was fast, had a great shot, and a knack for putting himself in a favourable position. You could say his talent was almost as pure as Alex Kovalev's (although with a lower ceiling), and you're allowed to say he had Thomas Vanek's defensive acumen, in that it was rare that he would have both skates inside the defensive zone. All that is true. But he was an exciting hockey player for six seasons.
Nowadays, apart from co-hosting and coaching the forwards at Hamrlik's hockey school in the summer, he coaches six youth hockey teams in the Detroit area, in which he is bringing more and more young Czechs so they can get acclimated to the North American game earlier than at the Junior age, in part so they have a better shot at an international career, but also because should they end up playing in North America, they will be more used to the lifestyle and perhaps steer clear from the temptations of sin.
That's right, Petr Klima is now a role model for young kids. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Now, onto the beautiful cards, first with him wearing the Oilers' classic white (home) uniform, on card #159 from Score's 1991-92 Pinnacle set:
1991-92 O-Pee-Chee Premier set: