You'd be hard pressed to find Darius Kasparaitis at the top of any kind of NHL scoring list. Scoring just wasn't his forte - except for one goal in which we'll get to later.
But if you wanted to find Kasparaitis anywhere you'd more often than not have the best chance of doing so by following the sounds of boos, cheers, curses, broken bones and injured players on the ice. If even that fails, look towards the penalty box.
Kasparaitis spent six seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1996-2002. In that span he scored only 15 goals, added 68 assists and tallied a baffling 661 penalty minutes.
Known mainly for his dominant hip checks and dirty hits, Kasparaitis was the kind of guy you were happy to have on your team. Very much the Jarkko Ruutu of yesteryear, Kasper could easily get under any opponent's skin.
Perhaps 1998 was one of the finer years in Kasper's career, when he rose to cult-like status with a devastating hit on Eric Lindros.
How many times did people have to tell Lindros to keep his head up? Nothing wrong with that hit. Surprisingly it was one of the cleaner one in Kasparaitis' career.
Again, while Kasper was hardly known for his goals, one of the most memorable ones to ever grace a low-scoring defenseman in Pittsburgh history came against Buffalo in game seven of the 2001 playoffs.
Silenced the crowd...
For those interested, I made mention of this exact play on D.O.'s Die By the Blade piece on Buffalo Sabres rivalries.
Two years after that goal, our friends at Mile High Hockey were graced with the presence of Darius in a mid-season trade. While he hardly played more than a dozen games (11 to be exact) it wasn't long before he shot back to New York to pester the Penguins for four seasons.
One of my personal, fondest memories of anything associated with Kasparaitis is watching him as a kid. The first time I heard his name mentioned, my father turned to me and said, "He sounds like a disease." That was the general opinion of practically every fan in Pittsburgh. Sure enough, this disease plagued the opposition to the best of his abilities when in the black and gold.