at Madison Square Garden vs NY Rangers, c. 1965
August 25, 1943|
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||196 lb (89 kg; 14 st 0 lb)|
Toronto Maple Leafs|
Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers
Los Angeles Kings
Peter David Stemkowski (born August 25, 1943) is a former center and forward in the National Hockey League. Over fifteen seasons, he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, and Los Angeles Kings. Stemkowski is best remembered for his heroics in the 1970–71 Stanley Cup semifinals when he scored two overtime goals for the New York Rangers in an eventual series loss to the Chicago Black Hawks. He won the Stanley Cup in 1967 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stemkowski is also remembered as one of the top faceoff players of the NHL.
Pete Stemkowski had a solid NHL career that lasted 14 years. A useful and aggressive forward, "Stemmer" always took a back seat of attention wherever he played.
Pete was a product of the Toronto Maple Leafs junior system. He played in his native Winnipeg before moving to Toronto at the age of 17 to play with the Ontario Hockey Association's Toronto Marlboros, the Leafs' junior team.
After splitting his first three professional seasons between the Leafs and their American Hockey League farm team in Rochester NY, Stemkowski finally made the Leafs squad in 1966-67. It was great timing as the Leafs won the Stanley Cup that year. Stemkowski, 24 at the time, was an important contributor with 12 points in 12 games. But the focus fell upon aging veterans like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, George Armstrong, Allan Stanley, Frank Mahovlich and Tim Horton.
In March 1968, Stemkowski was sent to Detroit as part of the big Frank Mahovlich trade. He was basically a throw in a deal that also saw Garry Unger and Carl Brewer head to the Motor City in exchange for Norm Ullman, Paul Henderson and Floyd Smith. It was a good trade for Stemkowski though. It gave him a chance to play regularly and he responded well with two 20+ goal seasons in his two full seasons in Detroit.
Stemkowski was traded to the Rangers for Larry Brown on October 31, 1970. This was partially a result of an incident in practice where Stemkowski disrespected new head coach Ned Harkness. Harkness had just come to Detroit from Cornell University. Stemkowski, a noted joker, was mockingly imitating a college cheer. Harkness made sure Stemkowski was gone shortly afterwards.
The Rangers, after suffering through many lean years, were emerging as a powerhouse. A good mix of veterans like Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle and Ed Giacomin with enthusiastic help from young players such as Stemkowski, Brad Park, Steve Vickers and Walt Tkaczuk. Stemkowski especially was very popular with the Madison Square Gardens faithful.
Despite the Rangers losing a 1971 Stanley Cup semifinal series in seven games to the Chicago Black Hawks, Stemkowski scored game-winning overtime goals in each of two matches. The first occurred just 1:37 into overtime to decide a 2–1 Game 1 win at Chicago Stadium on April 18. With the Rangers facing elimination in Game 6, he scored the most famous goal of his playing career eleven nights later at 1:29 of the third overtime, after a total of 41:29 of extra time, in a 3–2 victory at Madison Square Garden that forced a deciding seventh game. The contest lasted 4 hours 23 minutes and ended two minutes before midnight ET.
Stemkowski played six strong seasons in New York. Despite three 20+ goal seasons as a Ranger and fine team play, he never again sipped champagne from Lord Stanley's Cup. The Rangers came close to winning the Stanley Cup three times, however it was not meant to be.
In 1977-78, Stemkowski finished his career playing one season in a Los Angeles Kings' uniform. Despite playing just one year there, he had some great memories of California.
"I started my career in Toronto in the early 60's. The Leafs were a real powerhouse back then and all you heard was hockey 24 hours a day. When I came to the Kings the whole atmosphere changed. I'd go to the bank and the teller asked me what I did. I said I play for the Kings. The teller said, "who and what are the Kings?"
Stemmer particularly remembers Dave Schultz and Marcel Dionne.
"I remember a lot of traveling with the Kings and that I played with Dave "The Hammer" Schultz. I got to know the other side of the reigning "bad boy" in the NHL. He helped me find a place to live when I first arrived."
"Playing with Marcel Dionne was a treat. He was such a talent. Marcel and his family really did a lot to keep the team close. Every Sunday Marcel would invite the entire team over to his house for a barbecue and swim."
He has served a stint as the television (1992–1996) and radio colour commentator (2000–2005) for the San Jose Sharks and now does so for the New York Rangers on a part-time basis. He was rumoured to be a candidate to become the Rangers' full-time radio analyst in 2006–07 but has retained his back-up role and makes appearances at Rangers events.
Hockey awards and achievements
- Memorial Cup Championship (1964)
- Stanley Cup Championship (1967)
- Played in NHL All-Star Game (1968)
- “Honoured Member” of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
- In the 2009 book 100 Ranger Greats, was ranked No. 54 all-time of the 901 New York Rangers who had played during the team's first 82 seasons
- National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame – 2002
Conviction for criminal solicitation
On May 7, 1982, Stemkowski pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of criminal solicitation in Nassau County, New York. Stemkowski had lent $35,000 to a business associate, which had not been repaid along with $35,000 in interest. He offered $20,000 to an undercover Nassau County police officer to fly to California and break an ankle and wrist of the business associate. By pleading guilty, Stemkowski avoided a charge of conspiracy.
|1963–64||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||1||0||0||0||2||—||—||—||—||—|
|1964–65||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||36||5||15||20||33||6||0||3||3||7|
|1965–66||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||56||4||12||16||55||4||0||0||0||26|
|1966–67||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||68||13||22||35||75||12||5||7||12||20|
|1967–68||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||60||7||15||22||82||—||—||—||—||—|
|1967–68||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||13||3||6||9||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|1968–69||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||71||21||31||52||81||—||—||—||—||—|
|1969–70||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||76||25||24||49||114||4||1||1||2||6|
|1970–71||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||10||2||2||4||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|1970–71||New York Rangers||NHL||68||16||29||45||61||13||3||2||5||6|
|1971–72||New York Rangers||NHL||59||11||17||28||53||16||4||8||12||18|
|1972–73||New York Rangers||NHL||78||22||37||59||71||10||4||2||6||6|
|1973–74||New York Rangers||NHL||78||25||45||70||74||13||6||6||12||35|
|1974–75||New York Rangers||NHL||77||24||35||59||63||3||1||0||1||10|
|1975–76||New York Rangers||NHL||75||13||28||41||49||—||—||—||—||—|
|1976–77||New York Rangers||NHL||61||2||13||15||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|1977–78||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||80||13||18||31||33||2||1||0||1||2|
- Halligan, John; Kreiser, John (2012). Game of My Life New York Rangers: Memorable Stories of Rangers Hockey. New York, NY: Sports Publishing. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
- Grimm, George (2012). We Did Everything But Win: Former New York Rangers Remember the Emile Francis Era (1964-1976). New York, NY: Sports Publishing. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
- Eskenazi, Gerald (April 30, 1971). "Rangers Win in 3d Overtime, 3–2". The New York Times. p. 25. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
- Pelletier, Joe (2007). "Pete Stemkowski". GreatestHockeyLegends.com. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
- Staff writers (1982-05-11). "Sports Briefing". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 12. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
- Cohen, Russ; Halligan, John; Raider, Adam (2009). 100 Ranger Greats: Superstars, Unsung Heroes and Colorful Characters. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0470736194. Retrieved 2020-02-03.
- "Pete Stemkowski". National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame. 2002-08-08. Retrieved 2020-02-04.