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Former Rangers star Poddubny dies at 49

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Walt Poddubny, the only player other than Wayne Gretzky and Jaromir Jagr to lead the New York Rangers in scoring in each of his years with the Blueshirts, has died at age 49.

Walt Poddubny was honored as the team MVP in 1986-87.
Poddubny Career
1986-87 regular season
1987-88 regular season
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that Poddubny, a veteran of 468 NHL games with five different teams, had collapsed and died at his sister's home in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Saturday. The report did not indicate whether or not Poddubny, who had been living at the house in his native Thunder Bay, was suffering from any known health problems.

One of the most popular Rangers of the 1980s, Poddubny spent two remarkable seasons with the team in 1986-87 and 1987-88 after being obtained in an August 1986 trade for Mike Allison.

Not known as a big-time scorer before he arrived in New York, Poddubny immediately became a star in his first year as a Blueshirt, scoring six goals and 20 points in his first 11 games. He ended that 1986-87 season with 40 goals and 87 points to lead the team by a full 13 points in scoring and tie Tomas Sandstrom for the goals lead. That breakout season earned him the Rangers MVP award as well as the Frank Boucher Trophy for being the most popular player among fans.

Poddubny, a center who wore No. 8 for all of his 152 games with the Rangers, followed up his amazing year with another tremendous season in 1987-88, leading the team with 38 goals and 88 points to stand alone atop the Blueshirts in both categories. No other Rangers player came within 10 points of Poddubny in that second season.

Following the 1987-88 season, Poddubny was traded to Quebec -- the fourth of his five NHL teams. He returned to the New York area in 1989 with the Devils and closed out his career by playing parts of three seasons in New Jersey.

Poddubny then went to Europe, spending three seasons in Germany and one more in the American Hockey League before retiring as a player at age 35 in 1995. Originally drafted in 1980 by current Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather when Sather was serving as General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers, Poddubny's career NHL totals include 184 goals and 422 points in 468 games with the Oilers, Toronto, Rangers, Quebec and New Jersey.

After hanging up his skates, Poddubny turned to coaching with Orlando in the old Roller Hockey International InLine league. That led to a head coaching job in Daytona Beach with a Sunshine Hockey League team and later an assistant coaching job with the AHL's Worcester IceCats, where he had played his final pro season. He later went on to coach the Anchorage Aces of the Wet Coast Hockey League.

Poddubny remained in Anchorage until 2003 and then returned to Thunder Bay after having spent roughly a quarter of a century in professional hockey.
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