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Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End
By Ben Ricker and Josh Wilson
When your team hasn’t made the playoffs in five seasons (currently second only to the consistently “on the bubble”
Florida Panthers’ nine season drought), you’d expect to see an interesting cast of characters play for said team. The Toronto Maple Leafs in recent years have became more of an island of misfit hockey players than a playoff contender, ripe with obscure athlete gold. We’re looking at you Andrew Raycroft, Bates Battaglia, Jason Blake, and Kyle Wellwood. One unfortunate soul from the post-lockout Leafs is the topic of today’s Garbage Goals – Draft Busts series. At number four, we give you Chad Kilger.
Kilger was drafted fourth overall back in 1995 by the Anaheim Mighty (fuck off Disney for taking the “Mighty” out of it) Ducks, where he played 45 games before being packaged to Winnipeg in order to obtain Teemu Selanne. Kilger was then passed around like a hot potato, seeing playing time with Phoenix, Chicago, and Edmonton in the span of two years, all without much success. After a few years of lackluster production with Edmonton, Kilger was traded to Montreal. He played four seasons there, the most time he spent with a single team in his career. However, in 2003 he worked his way into then Canadiens coach Claude Julien’s doghouse after he registered only 4 points in 36 games, and was sent down to their AHL affiliate in Hamilton. He was then traded to the Leafs, appearing in five games with the team.
After the lockout, Kilger enjoyed his best offensive years with back-to-back 28-point seasons. Yes, those were his highest point totals. He also somehow managed to pencil himself in to the hockey record books by registering the hardest slap shot ever recorded at the time on Dec. 3rd, 2006. His shot clocked in at 106.6 mph, and held up for three years before Sheldon Souray bombed a 106.7 mph shot in the 2009 skills competition.
Although the Leafs were undoubtedly appreciative of Kilger’s stellar numbers, they felt it was time to say good-bye when they traded him to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick at the 2008 deadline. Chad was somewhat less appreciative. He immediately requested a leave of absence from the Panthers, which the team allowed. However, he didn’t report back to the team at the time the Panthers requested, and was fined without pay. Kilger later refused to report to camp, feeling that his talents were too superior to be playing on a team like the Panthers, and officially retired.
Chad must have a flare for controversy, because the puck doesn’t stop here. Instead of playing in Europe like most borderline NHL players past their prime do, Kilger decided to go back to his home in Cornwall, Ontario, where his father was the mayor. He became a fire fighter ahead of 146 other candidates. Many felt that he was getting preferential treatment, with one city counselor saying that the circumstances “stink big-time”. We applaud you Chad Kilger, for never living up to your potential, throwing a hissy-fit because you were traded to the Panthers, screwing over 146 hard-working Canadians, and of course, living out a mediocre career that we at Obscure Athletes can enjoy.
Ben Ricker and Josh Wilson are weekly columnists for Obscure Athletes and our resident hockey experts. They can be reached at Ben@obscureathletes.com or Josh@obscureathletes.com