Lyle Odelein

Lyle Odelein was not a flashy player, adding very little offense or finesse. But the native of Quill Lake, Saskatchewan was a player every fan and especially every player and coach could not help but appreciate.

"Lyle was a great team player," said Rejean Houle, president of the Canadiens' Alumni Association. "Guys always knew he had their back if there was a tough situation. It's a nice feeling for guys to know there is always someone there and ready to help."

This defensive defenseman showed up to compete every shift, every night. He started out more as a rugged presence, dropping the gloves often (though he was not a great fighter by any means) and throwing hard hits. But he worked hard at his game and became a valuable depth defender and, as one reporter put it, "a classic overachiever."

Odelein matured into a solid rearguard. For all his raucous physical play, he was very calm with the puck on his stick and made strong outs. He knew how to play within his limitations. He as an average skater at best, so he played a very conservative game. That made him reliable in the defensive zone, and, outside of an average shot from the point, a non-factor in the offensive zone. That being said, Odelein did have magical night in Montreal. On February 20th, 1994 Odelein matched Doug Harvey's team record for defensemen with 5 assists in the same game. A couple of weeks later he somehow recorded a hat trick against St. Louis.
The Montreal Canadiens drafted Lyle Odelein from the Moose-Jaw Warriors in the seventh round (141st overall) of the 1986 Entry Draft. He scored his first NHL goal on December 19, 1991 at Chicago.
Odelein, who was most often paired with Mathieu Schneider in Montreal,, not only was an essential component for the Canadien's Stanley Cup winning team in 1992-93, he also played in 83 games and led the Canadiens with a plus 35 rating. The next season, he posted career highs in goals - 11, assists - 29, points - 40, power play goals - 6 and . He also had a career high 276 penalty minutes, leading the Habs. That was not unusual. He did that 6 seasons in a row from from 1990-91 to 1995-96.

His penchant for fighting and physical play was definitely brought about by his rural Saskatchewan upbringing. They make hockey players tough in places like Quill Lake.

"Well, when we played minor hockey as kids, there would nearly always be some kind of a fight, either during the game or right afterwards," Odelein once said. "I can tell you names of guys who played their age-group hockey in that area and you won't ask me if they could fight. Guys like (future NHL tough guys) Wendel Clark, Joe Kocur, Kelly Chase, Kevin Kaminski.
On Aug. 22, 1996, Montreal traded Odelein to the New Jersey Devils for Stephane Richer. He led the Devils in penalty minutes in 1996-97 with 110 PIMs. He would often be paired with Scott Stevens as the Devils' top shutdown pair. In fact, Odelein was so highly thought of around this time that he was included on Team Canada at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

On March 7, 2000 he was traded by the Devils to the Phoenix Coyotes for Deron Quint and a conditional pick in the 2001 draft. He was then selected by Columbus Blue Jackets in NHL expansion draft on June 23, 2000, where he was named Columbus Blue Jackets first ever team captain.

Like most players, Odelein was a bit of a vagabond late in his career as teams looked to him for his experience. He rounded out his career with short stints in Chicago, Dallas, Florida and Pittsburgh.

All in all, Lyle Odelein played in 1056 hard fought NHL contests. He scored 50 goals, 252 points and 2316 career penalty minutes.

After retirement Odelein split his time working on the family 6400 acre ranch back in Quill Lake, and with North Shore Saloon in Pittsburgh.


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