In 1978-79, a young rookie from Roseau, MN., named Neal Broten set the University of Minnesota freshman scoring record with 50 assists in one season. He then left the Gophers for one year, serving as a center and the fourth-leading scorer on the heralded 1980 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic Team. He returned to the Gophers for his sophomore season and earned All-America honors for his efforts, leading the Gophers to the NCAA Championship game for the second time in his collegiate career. That year, Broten was the first recipient of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, winning it in 1981.
The end of that 1980-81 season marked the end of Broten’s collegiate career. But for Minnesota hockey fans it was only the beginning. For 11 seasons Broten entertained hockey aficionados of his home state as a member of the Minnesota North Stars. He was an instrumental part of the Stars’ two Stanley Cup final appearances, and was the first American player to notch 100 points in an NHL season in 1985-86. He is one of the top scoring American players in the history of the NHL. When the North Stars moved to Dallas, Broten played a season and a half in Texas before being traded to the New Jersey Devils during the 1994-95 season. Broten was the final piece in the Devils’ Stanley Cup puzzle. He ignited New Jersey’s offense by scoring seven goals (four game-winners) and 12 assists in the playoffs, becoming the first U of M player to have his named inscribed on Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Neal LaMoy Broten (born November 29, 1959 in Roseau, Minnesota) is a former American professional ice hockey player who played for the Roseau Rams, Minnesota Gophers, 1980 Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Team, Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, and the Phoenix Roadrunners.
Broten is considered by some to be the most accomplished Minnesota born hockey player. He is the only player to have played on teams that won the NCAA championship, the Olympic Gold Medal, and the Stanley Cup. He made a total of three appearances in the state tournament. His 1978 individual high school record of four assists in one period still stands today from Roseau High School.
As a college freshman, he played hockey for the Minnesota Golden Gophers under coach Herb Brooks winning both a national championship in 1979 and the inaugural Hobey Baker award in 1981. During his tenure at the University of Minnesota, he reunited with his Roseau linemates, Aaron Broten (younger brother) and next-door neighbor Bryan "Butsy" Erickson. Both Aaron and Butsy spent significant time in the NHL and became NHL journeymen with Butsy being known as "the good looking Roseau hockey star." As a small sidenote, Aaron and Neal's younger brother Paul eventually was also a professional hockey player, with a majority of his NHL career spent with the New York Rangers.
Broten was member of the United States Olympic team that won a gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in an event known as the Miracle on Ice.
He played 17 seasons in the National Hockey League and won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995, where he scored the game-winning goal in Game Four against the Detroit Red Wings which clinched the title. Doing so allowed him to become only the second player in hockey history to win both an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup (Broten's teammate at the 1980 Olympics, Ken Morrow, had been the first). Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan accomplished winning a gold medal and a Stanley Cup in 2002, bringing the current total to 4 players.
During the 1982-83 NHL season, Broten participated in a rare fight against Wayne Gretzky. It was one of only a handful of fights during both his and Gretzky's career. Broten later recalled how he and his teammates would "later have to deal with Gretzky's enforcers, Marty McSorley and Dave Semenko".
Broten served as the captain of the Dallas Stars for 2 months during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 NHL season. He had previously served as an alternate captain on a number of occasions.
All told, Broten remained with the Stars' organization for 15 of his 17 big-league seasons. He is the franchise's all-time leader in scoring, assists, games played, seasons, shorthanded goals, playoff games and playoff assists. His number 7 was retired by the Minnesota/Dallas Stars organization on February 7, 1998. As well, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in the year 2000.
Drafted: Minnesota North Stars, 2nd Round (42 overall), 1979 NHL Entry Draft. Pick was obtained by the North Stars in a draft-day trade that sent Dave Semenko from the North Stars to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for 2nd and 3rd round draft picks.
Traded to the New Jersey Devils for Corey Millen, 2/27/95
Traded from New Jersey Devils to Los Angeles Kings for future considerations, 11/22/96
Claimed on waivers by Dallas from Los Angeles, 1/28/97
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM
1978-79 University Of Minnesota WCHA 40 21 50 71 18
1979-80 United States Int. 55 25 30 55 20
1980-81 University Of Minnesota WCHA 36 17 54 71 56
Minnesota North Stars NHL 3 2 0 2 12
1981-82 Minnesota North Stars NHL 73 38 60 98 42
1982-83 Minnesota North Stars NHL 79 32 45 77 43
1983-84 Minnesota North Stars NHL 76 28 61 89 43
1984-85 Minnesota North Stars NHL 80 19 37 56 39
1985-86 Minnesota North Stars NHL 80 29 76 105 47
1986-87 Minnesota North Stars NHL 46 18 35 53 33
1987-88 Minnesota North Stars NHL 54 9 30 39 32
1988-89 Minnesota North Stars NHL 68 18 38 56 57
1989-90 Minnesota North Stars NHL 80 23 62 85 45
1990-91 Minnesota North Stars NHL 79 13 56 69 26
1991-92 BSC Preussen Berlin Ger. 1BL 8 3 5 8 2
1991-92 Minnesota North Stars NHL 76 8 24 32 16
1992-93 Minnesota North Stars NHL 82 12 21 33 22
1993-94 Dallas Stars NHL 79 17 35 52 62
1994-95 Dallas/New Jersey NHL 47 8 24 32 24
1995-96 New Jersey Devils NHL 55 7 16 23 14
1996-97 New Jersey/L.A. Kings/Dallas NHL 42 8 12 20 12
Although his accomplishments are known throughout the hockey world, Neal's huge popularity may never be fully understood outside of Minnesota. Not many players can say that they managed to play all of their hockey in their home state. But, for almost his entire career, Neal Broten could make that claim.
He came from a small town called Roseau in a state where high school hockey is televised and watched by thousands. With the Roseau Rams in the State High School tournament he got his first opportunity to showcase his talents. They never won the title, but the kid with amazing talent would go on to bigger things.
Like most of the state's top prep players he choose to attend the University of Minnesota. As a freshmen he was named WCHA rookie of the year and helped the Gophers reach the NCAA championship. In the final game against North Dakota he scored on a incredible effort as he side stepped one defender, fell to the ice from a check by another and chipped the puck over a sliding North Dakota goaltender for the game winner. His coach, Herb Brooks would later say, "He's the best player I ever coached at Minnesota." The next year Brooks selected him to play on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. The entire country looked on as his team shocked the world and won the Gold Medal.
After the Olympics, Broten went back to the University and simply had an incredible season. He was named to the NCAA All-American squad and was the first recipient of the Hobey Baker Memorial Trophy as the country's top player. Playing alongside of his brother, Aaron, he helped lead his team to the NCAA championship game where they were upset by Wisconsin. In total, he recorded an amazing 142 points in only 76 games.
The North Stars knew of Neal's ability for a long time and they were determined to get him in the 1979 Entry Draft. But, Lou Nanne was sure that Edmonton would pick Neal before the Stars turn came up. So he made a deal with Glen Sather that gave them back tough guy, Dave Semenko, in return for a pick order swap. It worked well for the Stars. They managed to get Craig Hartsburg, Tom MacArthy and Neal Broten all in the same draft.
Neal signed his first pro contract late in the 1981 season and was immediately inserted into the North Stars lineup. His speed fit in complemented a squad already known for their fast skaters. The Stars advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals only to lose the NY Islanders in five games.
For the next five years Neal's star would shine. He was runner up to rookie of the year, Dale Hawerchuk, in 1981-82. He scored 405 points in his first five seasons and led his team in scoring in three of those years. The entire line of Broten-MacArthy-Ciccarelli was invited to play at the 1983 All-Star game. In 1985-86 he scored a career high 105 points which marked the first time that a U.S. born player has ever reached the 100 point mark.
Misfortune struck Neal and the Stars in 1986-87 season. During an October game in Detroit Neal Broten picked up a pass and broke toward the net when Lee Norwood of the Wings checked him from behind. He slid into the boards hard and badly injured his shoulder. Broten came back to play later that season, but he injured the shoulder again. The Stars missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
After the injury, Broten's game eventually evolved into a more defensive style. His scoring was down, but he became one the NHL's premiere penalty killers and he was often seen playing the point on the powerplay. In 1989, he was paired with Mike Gartner and Brian Bellows and for the first half of the season, they were one of the hottest trio's in the league.
The miracle season of 1991 saw the Stars advance to another Stanley Cup Final and Neal played a big part in it. The North Stars aggressive play and potent powerplay left them only two games short of winning it all. Neal finished ninth in playoff scoring with 9 goals and 13 assists in 23 games.
The Minnesota fan's loyalty to Neal was unconditional. A contract dispute in the summer of 1991 turned Broten into a hold out. After starting the season with Preussen in the German League, his return to the lineup was met with a standing ovation from the fans. Although he probably had his worst season that year, trading Neal was unthinkable as far as Minnesotans were concerned.
With the franchise now in Dallas Bob Gainey dealt him to New Jersey for Corey Millen just prior to Neal's 1,000 career game. The trade turned out to be a blessing for the 15 year veteran as he won his first Stanley Cup. During the playoffs he scored some key goals including an overtime winner in the Conference Semi-Finals.
Neal Broten is a true hockey legend. His unique accomplishments make him a serious contender for the Hall of Fame. Here's a few of his career highlights.
3 State High School Tournaments
NCAA Hockey Championship
Hobey Baker winner 1981
Member of 1980 Gold Medal Olympic Team
NHL All-Star games 1983,1986
USA's Canada Cup Team 1981,1984
North Star club record for assists (76)
Member of 1995 Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils
copyright © 2010 Vintage Minnesota Hockey.com all rights reserved